Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Guest Post: Planning on an Early Retirement despite the Terrible Economy

For anyone who makes it to the ripe age of 65, you should be able to expect a retirement full of relaxation, enjoyment, and stress free living. At least, that's how it used to be. Retirement now brings with it a whole lot of additional considerations, such as: can you afford to retire?, are my investments safe?, will the government continue to support me?, what if I run out of money?, what state is my 401K in?

Unfortunately, given the financial pressures being faced these days, the truthful answers to most of these questions may not be as reassuring as they used to be. The first two question above can almost never be answered with a reasonable amount of certainty. The following 3 questions do present real risks if you were to retire too early. So, if you are approaching the "traditional" retirement age of 65, how do you actually reach a decent decision or make the "correct" choice. Furthermore, if you were previously considering an early retirement, is this still on the cards, or is it impossible?

There really is no way I could answer these questions for you. Every person always has a unique financial situation, and hence these types of things need to be analyzed on a case by case basis. What I can do instead is give you some valuable advice on how to reach a decision yourself. You don't need a financial advisor to make this decision for you! Instead, follow the 3 steps below, and you'll be well on your way to a successful outcome.

1. Look at the Big Picture:
Sit down one weekend by yourself, or with your partner, and bring out that ring binder. It's time to sort out all of your finances - and I mean EVERYTHING. There is no point in continuing with your retirement planning unless you know your exact financial position and cash / asset reserves. Think of it like a corporation. They need their yearly financial statements to help them direct their decisions for the year ahead. Companies who make decision blindly run the risk of choosing the wrong path - and this is easily what could happen to you.

2. Be Realistic About Your Living Costs:
It's now time to work out how much it costs you to live each week. Whilst you have those ring binders out, calculate your expenses for the previous 2 years. This should include expenses from all categories. Make it look pretty if you wish, but more importantly, come up with a total figure. Now, add $10,000 to that (to account for unexpected expenses that you could have faced in the last 2 years), and divide the total by 104. The resulting figure is how much you will need PER WEEK throughout your retirement.

3. The Final Calculation:
Now, take your total net worth, including all the items you accounted for in step one, and divide this by the weekly requirement in step 2. This will tell you how many weeks you can currently afford to retire for! Clever isn't it. Of course, this is very much an estimate - there will be many other things you need to consider - but as I said, case by case.

Can you retire early? Well, your definitely on the way to being able to work that out for yourself.

About the Author
Andrew Wang lives in Seattle area. He writes about Travel Reward Credit Card & International Travel Medical Insurance. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact Seattle Simplicity at the Email address listed in the sidebar.