American workers retire for all sorts of reasons, some good, some not so good. If you’re nearing retirement (or are just really good about envisioning your future at retirement), ask yourself: just what will be the one “big” factor that will cause you to make that final decision? Initially you might think the decision will be based on money. “If I have X dollars saved up by age Y, then I’m going to retire.” But money is surprisingly only 2nd or 3rd on the list of reasons, depending on gender, according to a recent retiree survey from Ameriprise Financial.
What was number one? Illness or health issues were the main triggers for retirement, for both men and women. Pause and think about the ramifications of that information for a moment (I’ll wait…). How you feel physically is the number one reason people retire. Ideally that means workers choose to retire when they are feeling good and can continue to remain active, to enjoy their retirement years. But on the flip side, it could mean—and often likely does mean—that poor health has forced workers into early retirement, which is what this survey seems to indicate. Which reason would you rather have for retiring? And what does that imply for what we should be doing now, in terms of exercise, diet, weight levels, blood pressure, social activities, family relationships, mental health, etc., to prepare for a healthy, robust retirement?
For men, the 2nd main reason for making the retirement decision was achieving financial freedom (aka money). For women though, the 2nd reason was that their spouse/partner retired (money was 3rd). For men, the 3rd reason was a layoff or career setback. Other factors indicated in the survey were reaching a significant birthday and having an empty nest. Surveys like this give all of us pause to consider what the “big one” will be when it comes to making our own individual decision.
And being good Americans, we like to be in control, in charge of our retirement readiness. And even when it comes to our health, we can exercise (pardon the pun) control, to a degree. Yes, money does continue to be an important factor in the retirement decision. But based on the actual experiences of retirees who’ve been there and done that, there are other variables to add to the equation. So we can all take advantage of some of this wisdom from our elders. Look at your own retirement plan. Are you maximizing your retirement readiness? Be sure to expand your definition of retirement readiness to include intangibles like your health, your spouse’s plans, and your home situation. Don’t let poor health be the last straw for your retirement planning.