Reg Jones Expert's View

The year is more than half over and you aren’t alone if you are thinking about retiring around the turn of the year, a popular time for federal employees to retiree (later in this series we’ll look at why that is). About six months out is a good time to start taking firm steps toward retirement.

However, first you will want to be sure you really are ready to retire.

Begin by asking yourself a few questions. Am I ready to give up what I’m doing now? Don’t discount the psychological benefits of your work, the feeling that you are making a difference. That’s a big reason why many people take (and remain in) federal jobs in the first place. Work also provides social interactions, travel, opportunities to meet interesting people, learn, and more. Don’t discount those factors either.

Is your reason for wanting to retire a negative one (bad boss, budget cuts, political climate, whatever)? If it is, take my advice: retire when you’re ready – not on an impulse.

If you can get over that hump, ask yourself what you’re going to do with your time after you retire. Depending on your age, you could spend as much time in retirement as you’ve spent working. If you are already on your way to realizing a post-retirement goal, that’s great. However, if you don’t have anything specific in mind, it’s time to start thinking hard about what you’ll do in retirement.

If you are married, what does your spouse think? Is he or she in the workplace and if so, is he or she ready to retire as well?

When you know why you want to retire and what you hope to do with your new found freedom, you need to figure out if you can afford to retire. Will you have enough income to enjoy the lifestyle you’d like to have? If not, are there any income-producing opportunities out there that will help you make up the difference? Depending on your skills and abilities, there may be quite a few. Or there may be few – especially if your federal career has been in a specialized area that doesn’t translate well outside of Uncle Sam’s walls.

The bottom line is this: make sure when you retire that your current and future income will be sufficient to cover your needs – and as many of your desires as possible.

In summary, decide if you are ready to retire, figure out what you will do with your time when you retire, and find out if you will have enough money to enjoy your retirement.

If you decide that this is the right time to retire, you’ll need to set a date. In my next two columns, we’ll talk about which date is best for you.