When Can I Retire? Answers From A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional

By: Derek Hess, CFP®

“When can I retire?” is one of our favorite questions to answer as CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. On the surface, it can seem like a straightforward analysis:

  1. Total your retirement income sources (pensions, Social Security)
  2. Add up your investment assets (401ks, IRAs, non-retirement accounts
  3. Come up with your retirement budget (day-to-day living, traveling, healthcare)

The main question then becomes: “Can my retirement income streams and accumulated resources support my ideal retirement budget?”

This is one way to look at this puzzle, and it’s not inaccurate.

It’s More Than A Simple Math Problem

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Practitioner Will Review All Variables

However, when we have clients considering their retirement(s), we feel that a much deeper analysis is necessary for decisions of this magnitude, and there are usually more decision points than people anticipate.

We’ve done enough financial planning to know that when we gather some high-level details about someone’s situation, we usually have a decent idea of whether their retirement plans are feasible or whether there’s likely to be more work to do.

This can be a helpful litmus test for those looking for a quick answer just for general awareness purposes. When it comes down to committing to a retirement date and preparing for this next chapter, we prefer to look at things more comprehensively by doing a full financial plan.

We feel that it’s vital to understand all the variables and pieces of the puzzle to make sure that all resources are being optimized and aligned with what the client is specifically looking to accomplish.

It’s Never Too Early To Start Planning For Retirement

Proactive Planning Gives You The Most Flexibility

It’s all about making sure that everything is doing what it needs to as they “land the plane,” as we like to say. This is also why we encourage people to reach out to us a few years before they are thinking of stepping away. Timeframes can always change, but this gives the client time to implement our recommendations ahead of their planned exits instead of coming to us on the doorstep of retirement, where there isn’t much flexibility to make adjustments.

Landing A Plane Requires Different Skills Than Cruising At Altitude

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional Will Help Navigate The Transition Into Retirement

Another angle often overlooked in the retirement conversation is that retirement can be very daunting and uncharted territory.

Sticking with the plane analogy, I like to think that the instructions for operating a plane are very different when descending as opposed to cruising at 30,000 feet.

That’s very similar to how we look at the retirement transition; there is a whole new set of rules for generating income, managing money, tax planning, what insurance is necessary, etc.

It can truly be a reality shock and until people feel this themselves, they may not appreciate the gravity of this moment. So, while we can appreciate the surface-level question, “when can I retire?” that people often ask, there’s usually much more to unpack if they’re serious about it. It’s a significant shift to plan for and for people to cope with, and it deserves more than a surface-level analysis.

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional discussing retirement plans with a client.

Schedule A Free Consultation With A Hess CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional In Harrisonburg.

When you hire Hess, we work for you. If you want to learn more about when you can retire, schedule a free consultation with one of Hess Financial’s CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners today. Let us show you the way forward together.

Disclaimer: This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.