informed decisions blog

12 Signs It’s Time To Retire – Close But No Cigar!? Blog 218

13th March 2023

Paddy Delaney

Signs it's time to retire

This week we share 12 clear signs it’s time to retire from your full-time job. Perhaps it is to start some new professional journey, a new personal journey, or a combination of both.

I share this piece in the hope that it will give you hope! Give you hope if you are on the cusp of retirement and doubting if you can or you can’t. Give you hope if you are wondering if you are alone, mad, or simply wrong to retire.

Key Takeaways

  • Your pension fund is healthy and can provide you with a comfortable retirement income
  • Your children are financially independent
  • ‘Work’ is incapable of giving you a sense of purpose
  • You want to spend more time with family and other interests
  • Your health is starting to suffer

In my view, there is nothing worse than being ready and keen to retire, but not to do it because of misplaced fear or concern. If you are financially ready, emotionally ready, and personally ready, and you want to do it – just do it! You don’t want to be in the situation of ‘close but no cigar’! I’m intrigued by that expression…

A hundred years ago, when you hit the coconut, or threw the ring onto the hook successfully at a travelling carnival, the prize was not a bucket of candy floss or a pink stuffed elephant; it was a cigar, apparently! So when you missed the coconut or the hook, the stallkeeper would shout, ‘Close but no cigar’!

You have a financial plan in place and know you can live a comfortable retirement, but what other signs it’s time to retire might you experience?

Financial security is, of course, a big one, but that isn’t the only thing that can indicate its time to leave employment.

First, let’s take a look at probably the biggest signs most people worry about.

Financial Signs It’s Time To Retire

1. You Have Enough To Retire

You’ve spent years investing in your pension and/or other assets. You have crunched and stress-tested the numbers, and your plan comfortably sees your money outlive you, as opposed to you outliving your money.

While you might like to have ‘just a little bit more,’ you have enough! It’s clear that you will have a retirement income that will meet your expenses and lifestyle goals when you exit employment.

Even with risks of inflation and market changes, you will be ok. If so, you might or might not want to do so right now, but you are ready to step back from paid employment. Cigar time!

2. All Debt & Dependents Are Gone!

Getting loans and mortgages paid off is a great position to be in, particularly on your principal residence. Not having the worry about these payments reduces strain on your monthly cashflows. However, having no debt is not, in itself, sufficient to say it’s time to retire.

Any dependents you might have, have completed their education and have embarked on their own careers. They are ‘off the payroll’, and you no longer have to provide them with financial support. This can be a significant chunk of change every month freed up for you!

3. You Are Envious of Retired Friends!

This is a surefire way to realise that you really do want to exit. Even if there is still a sense of fear in the decision, this is your gut telling you that it’s time to go!

4. Your Money Buckets Are In Place

We spoke about your ‘financial bucket’ in Blog 226. Separate from that, it can be very helpful to have an over-arching structure to your financial assets, sometimes referred to as Buckets.

If your financial plan includes ‘buckets,’ and it should, you will have an emergency cash bucket, a short-term liquidity bucket, and one or more invested buckets for future use.

Having these buckets can give you peace of mind and help you feel comfortable transitioning to retirement. We wrote about how best to invest your retirement lump sums in Blog 204 also.

Physical and Emotional Signs It’s Time To Retire

5. You Have Health Issues

We all want to stay healthy for as long as possible but for most of us, health issues will rear their ugly heads at some point. If you are starting to suffer poorer health, it can be a trigger that you should start thinking about retirement.

This can mean you might miss out on some of the amazing things you have planned for retirement. If your financial analysis and plan show that you will have a comfortable income and you have health problems, it might be a good time to make the transition to retirement.

6. You Have No Interest In Your Job

Whether it’s because you are getting bored in your job or the work environment has changed, having no interest in your job can make it a chore. Having to drag yourself out of bed every morning for something you don’t enjoy can affect both your physical and mental health.

OK, you’re getting your paycheck, but your sense of purpose hiked out of there some time ago. This is a big sign that you are ready for a new adventure.

7. You Are Suffering Burnout

Sometimes burnout and losing interest in your job go hand in hand. Long hours and challenging jobs can burn you out. You end up over-tired, mentally drained and stressed. This can have a huge effect on your health.

If your health suffers, your retirement goals will suffer and can lead to you not being able to do some of the things in your plan.

Too much stress is one of the main factors that lead to premature immune aging, meaning your body is at higher risk of age related diseases, according to a study carried published by PNAS in June 2022.  

8. You Have Reached Retirement Age

While reaching retirement age doesn’t mean you have to stop working, except in some professions, it is certainly a major sign that it’s time to take the leap into retirement. 

In addition to your personal pension, you are also now entitled to the Irish State Pension.

9. You Want a Sense Of Purpose

If lack of interest and/or burnout has opened your eyes to changes in your outlook on life, it’s time to retire! If your sense of purpose has evaporated or never existed in your role, it will suggest you are ready to discover new passions!

For many years, a big part of your identity when interacting with others was likely your job, but you feel like this is no longer you. This is your brain telling you it’s time to move on. Life is too short to slog away unhappily without any enjoyment. Isn’t it??

10. You Have Test-Run Retirement with Your Partner

If you are fortunate to have a life partner at this stage in life, then deciding whether it’s time to retire will most likely be a joint decision.

The adjustment for both of you may be quite severe if you are going from a full-on role to having much more time outside of work. The decisions you no make mostly will take place within your personal life, whereas when you were working, most decisions were within and about your professional life!

Aside from having tested living on your predicted retirement income, you will ideally have had a chance to test your retirement lifestyle together, and have clear plans as to what you will and, more importantly, what you won’t be doing when you do retire fully from a full-time gig! If you have done this, then this is one of the biggest signs it’s time to retire.

11. You Are Ready To Explore New Passions, Hobbies, or Roles

As I touched on above, if you are feeling pretty done with your job, and are chomping at the bit to explore all those things you’ve been dreaming about for years, good for you!

This could be big bucket list ideas or more modest goals, such as learning to paint, playing an instrument, or taking up furniture restoration. I always get excited when I meet potential clients and they have clear plans for their future spare time – it gives us something attractive and tangible to strive to make happen.

It’s always nice to be striving to achieve something rather than to be striving to get away from something else. It’s a wonderful motivator and can add a strong layer of conviction to the decisions as one reaches their time to retire.

12. You Want To Enjoy More Time With Your Loved-Ones

If you are reaching retirement age, you might be more conscious of your own mortality than you used to be! You recognise that time with family, friends, and loved ones is the most precious thing we can achieve in life.

If you are looking at work as an obstacle to that, then perhaps it is a strong sign it’s time to retire, at least from the current role, and possibly into something that allows more freedom for you.

I was recently told about a concept of considering how many more times you are likely to actually be in the presence of some loved ones.

If you consider an elderly parent or friend, and let’s assume you see them once a month, for example. If they/you live another 5 years, that’s only 60 more times that you’ll be in their presence.

This isn’t being a pessimist, far from it; it’s about recognising how precious that time is. And if you are financially, emotionally and physically ready to retire, wouldn’t it be absolutely regretful to not seize that opportunity?

I hope this helps.

Paddy Delaney.

Retired or close to it?

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