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When Can You Choose Retirement?

If you’re like most people, your work has been a central part of your life. So, wouldn’t it be nice to have the flexibility to decide when you no longer want to work?

Many people of retirement age have achieved this type of control. In fact, two-thirds of workers age 65 and older say they work primarily because they want to, not because they have to, according to a 2021 study by Edward Jones and Age Wave. But that means one-third of workers in this age group feel financially compelled to work.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they dislike the work they do — but it’s probably fair to say they would have liked the option of not working. How can you give yourself this choice?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

• When do I want to retire?

You’ll want to identify the age at which you wish to retire. You may change your mind later and move this date up or back, but it’s a good idea to have a target in mind.

• What sort of retirement lifestyle do I want?

When you retire, do you anticipate staying close to home and pursuing your hobbies, or do you hope to travel the world? Would you like to spend your time volunteering? Open your own business or do some consulting? Clearly, some of these choices will require more resources than others, so you’ll want to follow a financial strategy that aligns with the retirement lifestyle you intend to pursue.

• Am I saving and investing enough?

As you chart your course toward your retirement journey you’ll want to assess the sources of income you’ll have available. If you think you may be falling short of achieving your retirement goals, you may need to consider saving more.

• When should I start taking Social Security?

You can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as 62, but your monthly payments will be much bigger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be between 66 and 67.

Your decision about when to take Social Security will depend on several factors, including your other sources of income and your family history of longevity. Of course, as you’re probably aware, the Social Security system is facing significant financial stress, so it’s possible we may see changes to Social Security, based on actions Congress could take.

In any case, you might want to be fairly conservative in estimating how much Social Security can contribute to your retirement income.

By addressing the above questions, you can get a clearer sense of when you might reach the point at which work is optional. But you’ll need to consider other factors, too, such as how much you enjoy working or when your spouse or partner is planning to retire. In any case, the sooner you start planning for this next phase of your life, the better position you’ll be in when it’s time to make the transition.

Bill Hammond has been a financial advisor with Edward Jones since 2009. He can be reached at 1961 Route 6, Suite U1, Carmel; by calling 845-225-5410; or at


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