Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Should I stay or should I go? 30: retiring, and phasing out of work as a work-life transition 2

Posted in book recommendations, career development, job search, job search and career development by Timothy Platt on October 22, 2016

This is my 30th installment to a series on intentionally entered into, fundamental job and career path change, and on best practices for deciding both when and how to carry through on it (see Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 416 and following for Parts 1-29.) And this is also my second posting to this series where I at least begin addressing the issues of retirement, and phasing into it.

I briefly made note of a range of issues that I would address in this series, in Part 29. And in the course of writing that, I noted a few specific possible starting points when considering retirement, or at least phasing out of work as a career step toward it. One of them was that of why you might consider this type of move, and either now or in a shorter-term timeframe. What would prompt the emergence of this type of career change in general, as a possibility worth serious consideration and now? And I of course also raised the question of what you might seek to do, where as noted in the basic title of this series that might mean anything from full and sudden retirement or some sort of phasing out of work. But I stated that I would start a more detailed discussion of this general category of career move and stay-or-go decision, with an at least first step analysis of feasibility.

• What financial resources would you need to have, and with what levels of availability for their liquid value in order to make a move towards, or into retirement?
• And what do you in fact have?

I chose this as my starting point for more detailed discussion here, as “ideal” and “desired” can collide with “feasible,” and in a way that shapes what you can realistically plan for and do. So you might, for example, prefer to keep working but in a different type of job and at a more relaxed and even part-time pace and that might even be your ideal retirement path goal. But you might find it prudent to plan for such a retirement path this way, because the levels of your savings and overall investments, and consideration of your age and health and family needs make that more prudent, or even overtly necessary. Then, your available resources constraints might set you on a course that would mean tapering off from work in some way, working full time as is for some additional period of time, or both (e.g. where you simply keep working at your current job until you reach some decided upon age and then begin tapering off.) And your retirement planning will involve finding what for you would be the best path forward that would fit within your financial and other resource availability.

I offered a book recommendation in Part 29 of this series: part one of this phase of it, that I repeat here:

• Taylor, R.K. and D. Mintzer (2011) The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle. Lincoln Street Press.

And I stress in repeating this recommendation, one crucial word in its title that informs its content and organization: “puzzle.” Retirement planning is an exercise in assembling a puzzle, and more than that in discerning and shaping its pieces. And decisions made in any one puzzle piece here (e.g. resource availability) are likely to impact upon and help to shape and prioritize the options and considerations that would go into every other piece (e.g. timing and the precise details of how you would retire: at once or in steps and if the latter, in what types of steps.) And this is where planning enters this narrative too, as resource availability is not an immutably preordained condition. It is something that you can and should intentionally and strategically shape, to the extent that you can, balancing immediate and short-term needs and interests against longer-term needs and possibilities.

When should you begin saving and investing for retirement, and how should you do this? Ideally, you should start as early as you can, so as to capture as much value increase from compound interest and its equivalents as possible and so you can put as much as possible into this as new long-term funds. But here-and-now needs can intrude, and even force a reallocation of at least part of what have been your longer-term investments for more immediate use.

That can mean expected and predictable expenses that you could in fact plan your longer-term savings and investments around. There, you at least have the option of scaling your longer-term retirement and related plans and the savings and investments that would support them in terms of these expenses and needs, and their anticipated timing. But this can and will also mean addressing the more unexpected too, and for essentially all of us to some extent or other. And this can mean the cumulative impact of individually small unexpected expense, but it can also mean unexpected big events and their expenses too. The unexpected loss of a job due to a sudden downsizing, comes to mind as a scenario that many of us face at least once in our work life, and that too many of us go through more than once. Health challenges and healthcare expenses can arise suddenly and unexpectedly too, and be just as significant for their scale and even if they do not take you out of work for a period of time. Planning and the flexibility that it can at least potentially bring for addressing the suddenly unexpected, can be crucially important here, if you are to have the resources that you would need to achieve a meaningful and satisfying retirement and path to it.

And with that noted I offer a second book recommendation, adding that this is only one of many such resources available for retirement resources planning:

• Eisenberg, L. (2006) The Number: what do you need for the rest of your life, and what will it cost? Free Press.

This is not the type of resource that you should first look for and consider, when you are already actively approaching retirement. This is the type of resource that you need to look for and start using early on, when you first start saving and investing – and well before you are either ready to retire or interested in pursuing that course. The goal in this, is that when you reach a point where you would want to start moving in the direction of retirement, you have the resources that you would need to make that possible.

I am going to move ahead along the work life path in my next series installment where I will consider health and other non-financial resource issues. And with that in place I will start considering at least some of the retirement path planning details that can and do arise as important. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3 and at the first directory page and second, continuation page to this Guide.

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