Why You Aren't Ready to Retire

Young couple calculating budget

Just because you reach a certain age or achieve a certain milestone, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to stop working. What is it that keeps you in the office? Whether your motivations are financial (a paycheck) or emotional (social interaction), here are some reasons it just may not be time for you to say goodbye to the working world.

1. You Haven’t Saved Enough

To be able to retire requires some forethought. Calculating how much money you will need for retirement can help you be ready but it will depend on the life you plan to lead in retirement, the savings vehicles you use and how much you set aside on a regular basis. Chances are, your monthly Social Security payments will not be enough, so you will likely need a 401(k), work-sponsored pension, some sort of IRA or a combination of all three options to be truly financially prepared. Many Americans have not been putting away necessary funds early or often enough to afford retirement comfortably.

Getting into debt in retirement can take a major toll on your finances, so make sure you plan ahead and put enough away before hanging up your work clothes for good.

2. Your Savings Took a Hit

Others have experienced investment or other financial struggles from the recession and had to use funds previously allocated to retirement for daily necessities. It’s important to adjust the allocation of your retirement savings as you get older. In general, the closer you get to retirement, the less risky you want to be with your investments.

Americans also tend to underestimate how long they will need to rely on these savings — be sure you do not forget about life expectancy when planning your retirement. You need to have enough money to cover health care during retirement in addition to the expenses of daily life. It all boils down to a simple statement: If leaving your job now will not provide you the lifestyle you want for the rest of your life, you are not ready to retire.

3. You’ll Miss Work

Even with the right amount of financial security to ensure the retirement you want, you may not be emotionally ready to retire. Although life on your terms may seem exciting, many who leave the workforce find they miss it. There are social and personal interactions that life outside the office cannot always provide. If you still look forward to work in the morning, if your closest social circle is at work, if your personal identity is wrapped up in your job title and if you are not excited by the idea of expansive free time, then you are not ready for retirement. Before you decide to leave your job for good, it’s important to have a support system in place and activities to spend your time doing that you find meaningful, in addition to financial security.

Getting older doesn’t have to mean retirement. If you are able, you can remain in your current job. If you want to start your own business or consult part-time to manage your financial, emotional and retirement-like needs, maybe that will help find your happy medium. Full retirement may sound like the ideal life, but if you aren’t ready, it will bring you discontent and stress.

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AJ Smith is an award-winning journalist with more than a decade of experience in television, radio, newspapers, magazines and online content. She currently serves as the managing editor for SmartAsset. AJ has a passion for meeting new people, sharing stories and helping others. She has degrees from Princeton University and Mississippi State University. AJ and her husband also write and illustrate educational children’s books.