Once you've turned 65, amassed a substantial 401(k) balance, and are eligible for Medicare, it’s time to retire, right? Not so fast. Retirement has many selling points, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be buying. Here are some reasons you might not want to pull the trigger just yet.
You love your job. Individuals who enjoy their work are very lucky. According to a study by the Conference Board research group, only 45 percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs, down from 61 percent in 1987 when the survey was first conducted. Only 51 percent of workers find their work interesting, down from 70 percent in the first survey. If you are one of the lucky few, why quit?
You love what your job says about you. A job can mean more than just a paycheck. For many people it’s who they are. The loss of that identity can be one of the most difficult transitions in retirement. Most people struggle with this loss to some extent. For those folks whose identities are entrenched in their jobs, it’s wise to start working on a new identity before you give up the old one.
You are sick of traveling. I never felt like I had enough time to travel when I was working full-time. The confines of three weeks of vacation each year were just too limited for me. But not everyone dreams of a retirement filled with travel. If you spent your career traveling for work, jet-setting may be the last thing you want to do. If there’s not some activity you’re longing to fill your time with, why create all that extra time to fill by retiring?
You get bored on the weekends. If you can’t even think of enough to keep yourself occupied for the two days at the end of each workweek, you’re probably not ready to sign up for seven of those each week.
You love stuff. For most of us, the fact that no more direct-deposits will be hitting our bank accounts during retirement means we have to give up a few things to make ends meet. If having the latest gadget, the most fashionable clothing, or the most luxurious car are really important to you, you may read budget as a dirty word. Despite what the personal finance gurus say, there is really nothing wrong with that. It’s your money. Spend it on whatever you like. But if, like many of us, retirement will require some austerity measures, you may want no part of this program.
You want a bigger house. Most of us facing retirement are at least weighing the possibility of downsizing our homes at some point. But some people would prefer just the opposite—to move somewhere bigger. You’ll get no argument from me. Your square footage is none of my business. But if those extra bedrooms depend on a steady paycheck, don’t reach for that gold watch just yet.
You already get enough sleep. The greatest gift of retirement is time. You will have time to travel, explore new hobbies, or just to get some much-needed slumber. All the time you spend getting ready for work, commuting to work, and actually working is a lot of hours to fill when that job is gone. If you’re not yearning for the extra time, you’re probably not going to like having so much of it.
Sydney Lagier is a former certified public accountant. Since retiring in 2008 at the age of 44, she has been writing about the transition from productive member of society to gal of leisure at her blog, Retirement: A Full-Time Job.