For years you were too busy raising a family, climbing the corporate ladder and running non-stop in all directions and you haven’t really thought about retirement. Retirement had a default switch that was always set on age 65. You’ve always thought “That’s when people retire.”

Whether it be a loss of a friend or family member, the loss of your job or simply the time you’ve had to think during the covid-19 pandemic, something has shaken you out of your automatic pilot mode.

Now that you are awake and I have your attention, let me share with you why you shouldn’t go back to “sleep” and just assume you have to work until you’re age 65.

1) Society set the default age of retirement to 65.

Over and over throughout our lives we’ve known countless people who retired at or around age 65.  The media, books and other publications have pushed the idea of retiring at age 65. Getting your full social security payment is set around age 66 along with the Medicare age being 65. Your friends and co-workers will discuss retiring at age 65 because “that’s what people do.” Don’t fall for all that BS. This is your life and it’s short. You have options and one of those options is to not fall in line, doing what everyone else is planning on doing.

2) You’re thinking about retirement and the freedom that comes with it.

Pulling off a successful early retirement takes three things.
1- Have your lifestyle in retirement planned out.
2 – Have your finances in order.
3 – Have an open mind.
You see, sometimes retiring early will come with a few sacrifices. Without an open mind and a willingness to compromise, you won’t see the rewards past the sacrifices. Those who aren’t willing to compromise will continue to work until they have enough so not to have to compromise.

3) You’re awake and realizing the things you could have done.

That corporate job just isn’t cutting it anymore. You want more out of life because you feel you’ve missed out on so many things over the last 25 to 30 years.

4) With planning you can fast track your retirement.

Your retirement goal has always been age 65 and now you’re 58 and ready to retire. Can you shorten your retirement by seven years? You can with some planning.

Here are the suggested steps to take.

1) Identify what you plan on doing once you retire.

This is what I call Lifestyle Planning. In order to get your finances in order (Step 2), you’ll need to have an idea of how you’ll be spending your days in retirement. Will you be traveling for a few years and how much is that going to cost? Do you want to grow your hobby? What will that cost?

2) How are you going to fund your retirement lifestyle?

Know your Money and get a Retirement Plan. You’ve done a great job saving and investing and you have all of these assets and different pots of money. How do you go about getting money out of your retirement accounts prior to 59 ½?   How best to use your assets to produce income? Now you have to pull it all together. This is where you might need help. A retirement plan should not be based on hope, “I hope we’re okay”.  “I hope my retirement plan will be fine.” You need to be as certain as possible that your retirement plan is solid so you can retire with confidence.

This is where you might need to hire an advisor to have another set of eyes on your numbers as well as give you some guidance on potential blind spots that you might not be seeing.

3) An Open Mind.

What if during your lifestyle planning and retirement planning, you find you come up a little short. This is where an open mind comes into play. For some, if they cannot do exactly what they want to do in retirement, they’ll keep on working. For others, they will make sacrifices in order to retire early. If you need to work for a few more years, now is the time to determine how many more years.
If you work until you are age 65, without a doubt you will be more financial stable. However, your freedom clock is running out. How long do you have to travel and do all the physical things you’ve wanted to? Will you stay healthy for another ten years?

Retiring early offers you a lot more freedom but might come with a few sacrifices. Perhaps you’ll only be taking a couple of trips a year when you once thought you’d be taking four or five. Maybe that brand new 40 ft diesel pusher RV now just became a ten-year old 40 ft diesel pusher.

And there will also be  folks who are willing to adjust their retirement lifestyle and financial plan that will succeed on the fly. Be willing to be flexible and open-minded.

If you just “woke up” and you’re ready to seize your freedom and fast track your retirement plan, congratulations and welcome.  We’ve been waiting for you.

Live free my friends,
Eric Gaddy