Did I Retire Too Soon?
We are all seeing headlines of market volatility, inflation and a looming recession. While concerning for anyone, retirees have a particular concern as the market declines. As they see their accounts dwindle, many wonder if they retired too soon. The question that goes hand-in-hand is: Will I outlive my money?
Seeing that nest egg shrink can rightfully elicit fear, but before retiring there are ways to stress-test your portfolio and plan for various scenarios to help ensure your savings are on track with your needs and goals. It can be helpful to run through the worst-case scenarios that show how market declines could impact your portfolio. You can then plan around the worst-case and feel more confident your plan can accommodate how you envision living your life during retirement.
Did you already make the jump into retiring and wondering if it was too soon? Ask yourself a few questions. It’s important to be honest and self-aware. While it’s not always easy to confront these questions it ultimately helps set you up for long-term success.
- Am I strapped for cash month-to-month?
- Am I meeting my fixed expenses?
- Is my credit card balance creeping up?
- Is my debt increasing from a lack of income?
- Is my current level of spending sustainable?
- If I have a healthcare event, would I be able to financially handle it?
Aside from the financial piece of retirement preparedness, there’s a social and emotional component as well. Did you retire from a high-stress job due to the demands but find yourself craving structure and connection? Perhaps a part-time, low-stress job can keep you emotionally fulfilled while also providing an income cushion.
Even if you didn’t retire “too soon,” it may be helpful to spend prudently during a market downturn. Here are some key considerations:
- Big expenses: If you can push back big, one-time expenses, like the vacation house you’d like to buy or the new car you were planning to purchase with cash, wait. Keeping that money in the market during a decline may benefit you in the long run as there is the potential to benefit from a future upswing when the market comes back. Obviously, pushing back all life milestones isn’t realistic, such as if you have a child getting married and you can’t push that expense off. But less time-sensitive, high-dollar items may be able to wait.
- Healthcare: Medicare doesn’t start until age 65 so for retirees in their late 50s or early 60s, healthcare can be a big expense in the open marketplace. A couple could spend significantly more per year after COBRA ends compared to what Medicare would cost for a couple once both reach 65 years old. To help lessen the burden of healthcare costs before Medicare kicks in, getting a part-time job with benefits is an option.
- 401(k)/IRA withdrawals: Unless you are over 59½, withdrawing from qualified retirement accounts will subject you to a 10% penalty upon withdrawal. If you need funds before hitting that age, tap taxable investing accounts first before subjecting yourself to an unnecessary penalty.
- Cash reserves: Having cash savings that would cover three to six months of your expenses is always a best practice but is even more essential if you’re not generating income to cushion any times of financial turbulence – whether it's a market event, a home maintenance issue, or a medical expense.
- Reduce risk: Complete a detailed review of your budget and financial plan to ensure both are still aligned with your goals and current situation. Do you need to reduce stock allocation to have less risk in the market? Do you have a plan for when you will take Social Security? Can you wait until full retirement age (67) to maximize that benefit? Having a full picture of your finances can help decrease risk and allow you to feel more confident during your golden years.
Retirement is evolving. It may not look like it did during your grandparent's or previous generations' retirement when they worked at the same company for 30+ years before retiring. Due to longer life expectancy, “retirement” could be 20+ years for many. That may look like having a part-time job for supplemental income or volunteering for a non-profit to keep the structure and emotional and social connection in your life.
Ultimately, if you feel as though you retired too soon, there’s nothing wrong with that! You can go back to work for a period of time doing something you enjoy to secure some benefits and extra cash. While a market decline is a stressful time, this is not the first downturn you have navigated, and it will likely not be the only one you weather during retirement. By working with a trusted partner to create a financial plan aimed at meeting your needs for the long term can help you enjoy a long and happy retirement. If you could use advice on planning for retirement, the team of Girard advisors is here to help. Contact us today to have a conversation.
This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. The information in this article, and any opinions expressed therein, do not constitute a recommendation or an offer to buy or sell any security or financial instrument. Viewers should consult with their financial and/or legal professionals before making any financial decisions.