Hit your 60’s and you are bombarded with lots of advice on when the best time to retire and start taking that social security check. Some advisors suggest you should wait as long as possible so that you receive a larger monthly check during your retirement. Others say you should start taking it earlier. They believe that you may be leaving money on the table for the long haul. And still, other advisors may suggest that the wife takes her check early and the husband delays as long as she can. The thought behind this is that most women will outlive their husband. As such when he dies, she will receive his check instead of hers. If he can wait, his check will be larger ensuring a better retirement for his wife.
The Truth is Everyone’s Situation is Different.
My own father was forced into early retirement when he suffered a stroke at age 63. After a couple of years, he took a part-time job doing real estate appraisal work. It was great because he could set his own hours and Mom could go with him and help. It gave them some extra “spend money” for eating out and watching a movie once in a while.
They were able to work into their mid-70’s. And they enjoyed what they were doing. Dad lived to be 91 and Mom 93. Going back to work was a smart step.
A couple of friends have recently taken early retirement. I have changed their names for privacy reasons. But their stories are being played out across the nation.
Bill and Angie Decided to Take Early Retirement.
The also decided to sell their “too large” home and move into an RV. They planned to stay on the road for about 5 years and then settle close to their children in Colorado in a much smaller home. Angie was 62 and Bill 63. They started taking their social security check at that time.
“We didn’t need the large home anymore. And we were tired of the upkeep. Getting rid of most of our possessions was freeing. And both Bill and I have not really missed anything.” Angie
But the cost of living keeps rising. Groceries were a lot more than they budgeted for. And the cost of living in an RV is not as cheap as we thought it would be. The gas to pull the vehicle is a lot and the RV rental places are not that cheap. Sometimes they boondock (a term that basically means Dry Camping parking anywhere without or with limited amenities) But places to do this are not always available and they miss having amenities like a place to wash your clothes and to dump your sewage.
The Honeymoon Phase Wore Off
“The first six months were great. It was like being on an extended vacation. But the honeymoon phase has worn off. We are getting bored. And we have to really watch our budget. This is something we have never really done before. A few health conditions recently ate into some of our savings. I think it is time to get back to work”
Since Bill is a master carpenter, he has been able to pick up a few jobs here and there. But the nomadic life does not make it that easy to create some steady work. This couple is now looking for a small affordable home where they can settle down. Bill can get a small customer base.
But Angie worked as a massage therapist and does not see that in her future. “Arthritis in my hands has gotten really bad,” she told me. She is looking into pet care. Dog walking and pet sitting may giver her the flexibility in her schedule she desires and will keep a few extra bucks coming in also.
“I wish we would have stayed at our jobs a few more years. We could have saved more money and our SS checks would be larger. But we can’t look back. We just have to look for opportunities now.”
When Retirement Isn’t Your Choice
Paul and Lisa were in a different situation when they took early retirement. Paul had been laid off from a job he held for 38 years. It is a common story these days. Having worked that long for one company did not make Paul a desirable employment catch he soon found out. His age was already a strike against him and the longevity with his company was strike two. Employers were concerned that Paul may not be able to blend into a new company culture very easily.
After a few rejections, Paul decided to claim his social security check at 62 years old. Both he and Lisa took their checks. And they continued to live life just as they always had done when he was employed. Big dinners out on the weekends and vacations continued. But they started having to take more and more money from their retirement accounts. Paul’s Mom became sick and when he realized how much it cost to bring in help, he got worried. What if something happened to Paul or Lisa?
From Retired To Working Again
At 65 Paul has returned to the workforce. He is hoping to be able to work until he is 70. Lisa continues to collect hers. But they both decided that as long as he is working, they will live off his paycheck. Lisa’s SS check will be put into a Roth IRA. This way they will be in a better place when they are ready to retire again.
Planning ahead for all of life’s twists and turns is important to do. The Hilbun Law Firm can help you make sure you are prepared for unexpected health issues. Attend an Estate Planning Workshop today.