Last week I wrote about the decisions you have to make when picking a date to retire at the end of the year. I offered some variables to consider, which could have you spinning around mentally trying to decide which date is best.
This time I’m asking you to sit back, cool down, and think about a few other things you should consider before you make the big leap.
1. Don’t retire on an impulse. For example, don’t leave if you are at odds with your boss or simply fed up with the job. If you do, you’ll probably live to regret it. In other words, don’t retire because you want to get away from something.
2. Don’t retire unless you are sure that you will get credit for all your years of federal service, including military service if applicable. For example, quite a few retirees have ended up with a smaller annuity because they forgot to make a deposit to get credit for their active duty service or to include times they worked for the government when in high school or college.
3. Don’t retire if you haven’t compared what you’ll receive in your annuity with what you’ll need to maintain a comfortable standard of living. If you end up having to cut corners after you retire, it will take the shine off those so-called “golden years.”
4. Don’t retire if you won’t be able to carry your Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) coverage into retirement. To do that, you have to be covered for the 5 consecutive years before you retire (or from your first opportunity to enroll). By the way, the same 5-year rule applies to the Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) program, but not to the FEDVIP dental-vision program or the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program.
5. Don’t retire if you haven’t checked out all the options available to you and the timing of your departure. To do that you will need professional help, which you can get from the benefits officer in your personnel office, government agency websites, or even private sector specialists.
6. Don’t retire if you don’t have a plan for the future. As I mentioned above, it’s better to retire to something rather than away from something. What that something is could be another job, a new business, a hobby, travel, volunteer work, etc. What’s important is that you have a plan for what you are going to do with all that time when you’re no longer on the clock. Ideally, what you do should make you feel good about yourself and provide the greatest satisfaction.
7. If you are married (or have a special someone in your life), don’t retire unless you have discussed it with him or her, both from a financial viewpoint and from a lifestyle viewpoint.
Yes, there are other mistakes you can make than the ones I’ve listed. However, those are the ones that have generated the most post-retirement grief in my experience. The important thing is to consider all your options before you make up your mind to leave. And when you do leave, leave with a smile on your face and an eye on the future, not the past.