Do You Have a Right to Retire?

If you haven't saved, do you still deserve a retirement?

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Let’s say you work very hard and after being on the job for 30 years, you’re ready to retire at 65. Most people would agree that after working hard for years and years, you have the right to do so.

[See 10 Ways to Boost Your Social Security Checks.]

But, in this example, let’s say you don’t have enough money to retire now. Should you do it anyway? Wise planning would argue against it. The folks who retire regardless of not having the resources to do so are asking for trouble. Yet, I see this happen all the time. Some people are so focused on what they deserve that they don’t care about the consequences.

On the other hand, there are people who never plan on retiring because they don’t have enough money to replicate their current lifestyle. These people aren’t willing to compromise either and they pay a heavy price as well. They give up lots of freedom they could otherwise have.

[Visit the U.S. News Retirement site for more planning ideas and advice.]

When you only focus on what you deserve, and pay no attention to your resources, you are going to end up losing in the long run. You might deserve a nice vacation to Hawaii, but is it worth wrecking your good credit score? Going the other way, you might want to cut your spending, but is canceling your term life insurance the best way to do it? When you fail to compromise between these two extremes you are asking for trouble.

[See Why Tax Deductions Aren’t Always a Good Thing.]

Forget about what’s fair and focus on what’s realistic instead. If you want to retire now, remember that what is economically feasible trumps what is fair. Work a few extra years, get a weekend job, or cut your spending. Be willing to compromise and make small sacrifices now so you won’t be facing a financial crisis later.

Neal Frankle is a certified financial planner and runs Wealth Pilgrim, a personal finance blog that helps people make smart decisions about their money. As a start, he suggests that you strive to understand your credit score range.