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Is the Pandemic Making You Think This Is a Good Time to Retire?

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

Oct. 12, 2020 — Many Topretirements Members are still working, wondering if and when they might retire. Enter the pandemic, and many new calculations enter into the mix.

So many corporations and small businesses have been affected in serious ways by the coronavirus. Airlines, restaurants, and hotels have been particularly devastated by people not traveling and going out to eat. States and municipalities, hit by extra expenses and declining revenues, are looking for ways to cut their budgets. Organizations like these are wondering how they are going to survive. One of their most obvious options is to layoff workers or encourage others to take early retirement.

You might be one of those people approached with a retirement package. Or you might have decided that the pandemic has made it too difficult to keep working. For example, if you are having to teach via Zoom and don’t find it rewarding. Or, maybe you found working from home so liberating that you don’t ever want to go back to the office. Worse yet, you might have been laid off and facing an early retirement you weren’t expecting. Whatever your situation, now is a good time to re-evaluate your retirement premises.

The Wall Street Journal just published an interesting article on what to consider if you are offered a retirement buyout (see Further Reading below). Here are some of their considerations, along with other thoughts about retiring now instead of later.

How close are you to retirement. The closer you are the smaller the decision, assuming the package is fair. So if you are ready to go, you might just decide to take it. If you are further away from your target date, it might not be such a great idea, depending on the deal.

-What do your finances look like. If you take the package or decide to retire now, do you have enough money saved to retire comfortably? Retiring early usually means that you stop contributing to your 401(k) and IRAs, and have to start taking money out. Do you have enough saved to cover your expenses and the lifestyle you want to have in retirement? Or can you take a different job, perhaps part-time, to pick up the slack.

-Tax consequences. Will a lump sum package push you into a higher bracket, and would you be better off declining for that reason?

Health insurance. If you are years away from Medicare eligibility (usually age 65) and you won’t have a package that provides company insurance, you need to calculate how much extra you might have to pay for health insurance for those years. That could be a lot of money.

-Social Security. Many people nearing retirement have maxed out their 35 year contribution average. For them, working a few extra years might not move their monthly SS benefit. But if you were out of the workforce for more than a few years, or if you have many low contribution years, you might be better off staying on the job in order to claim a higher benefit. Also, the more years you have to wait before you can collect your maximum benefit (at your Full Retirement Age, or even better at age 70), the more important the decision.

-Get expert advice. If you are one of the lucky ones getting a retirement buyout, it is probably complicated. Your financial advisor or accountant might have some good advice for you, so it would be worth your while to have them look it over. That applies even if you are retiring without any buyout – knowing that you can pull the trigger and have enough to live comfortably is important.

-It’s not all about money. If you like working, our advice is to keep doing it. If you have things to do and work isn’t fun, and you can afford to, maybe this is a great time to retire. Think it through, and make the decision that makes you happy.

Comments? Has the pandemic made you think twice about your retirement strategy? Have you been offered a package, either now or in the past? What was/will be your decision and why? Your experiences will be very valuable to your fellow Members. Please comment below.

For further reading:
Should You Retire in a Pandemic (Wall St. Journal- paywall)

The Coronavirus Pandemic and Your Retirement Portfolio – Buy, Sell, Hold?

3 Social Security Rules to Live By

How Much Do I Need for Retirement

Posted by Admin on October 11th, 2020


  1. That last item, “lt’s not all about money” is incredibly important. If you like your work/career, there should be other very important considerations involved before you allow a retirement decision. A satisfactory, fulfilling pastime can be almost impossible to replace — especially if you mostly define yourself by your work. One of my previous careers was as career counselor. I have always suggested thinking twice or more about giving up a job you like/love. The unknown ramifications are beyond expectation.

    Having personally retired early from another longtime career that I once loved (due to several years of unsatisfactory work environment), I also understand that a bad job/career is not a long term tenable condition. If you are self-motivated (self-driven), you can have a great retirement.

    by RichPB — October 12, 2020

  2. Rich, I would hope everyone would consider your sage advice.
    My guess is that many watch the calendar click down towards their ” last day”, without a thought as to what comes next….just can’t wait to be released from the harness of their work.
    For better or worse, many define themselves by their work. It’s a place where they fit in, are needed, and play a vital role. Part of one’s social life is there a work, amongst people you interact with on a daily basis.
    All of that network and interaction vanishes with your first day of “freedom”. The life you’ve known for all those years….gone.
    Suddenly, you have no role to play, no where to contribute, nothing to do, nowhere to go.
    If you’re not addicted to golf, it can be hugely unsettling.
    It was for me, and volunteering was my salvation.
    The ” emotional income” derived from those pursuits was every bit as important as was the former paycheck.
    It’s important to have a plan for the ” afterlife”.
    Hope you’re doing well in these uncertain times!

    by Doc Stickel — October 13, 2020

  3. I totally agree with Doc Stickel. I have found great satisfaction in volunteering (prior to Covid-19) and I work a part-time job three days per week, I am able to still help others. It does help to know I can still contribute. I found I could not go from 60mph to 0 as it were, so I am easing into retirement slowly.

    by Jennifer — October 14, 2020

  4. The pandemic has changed everything for me. After a cancer diagnosis and a very long treatment, I changed jobs from a very time consuming,stressful, and demanding position to a very rewarding job teaching in a high school. I am 69, divorced, and being treated for cancer and I am very high risk, so I could no longer be in a school. Life is about change. I have no intention of “retiring”, but this pandemic leaves me wondering what comes next? I have lived a purposeful life, and sitting around is not my style. I have never taken government handouts, so I hope this pandemic ends soon. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was my role model. So, I am trying to get creative, doing a lot of reading to stay current, and praying that a vaccine comes soon, and looking for another way to contribute and earn at least a small salary.

    by Maimi — October 14, 2020

  5. I felt that way for the first two years of retirement, like a zoo animal released into the wild. Now, after seven years of freedom, I don’t think anyone could force me back to work. Maybe it depends on your personality type. You’d be surprised how your brain rises to the occasion with creative ideas when given a free pass. I started out with a rigid retirement plan A and B, but have since thrown it to the winds.

    by Daryl — October 14, 2020

  6. I was told that July 1st we’d have to go back into the office. Working location being in a large university library on the 3rd floor I wasn’t looking forward to that. I was under-utilized and under-valued in my job. Thankfully, I turned 62 in late June and at that age they still were offering a monthly contribution that would pay for almost half of the insurance cost. Of course the day after I gave my noticed they changed the required date to come back into the office to August. I was tempted to stay but I’m so glad I stuck to the retirement idea. It is so helpful to do outside projects or errands on my schedule, and not a weekend, especially when the weather is an issue. Is it the retirement I had hoped for? NO! We had plans to move out of state by 6/30 but we’re not buying or travelling in this COVID environment. But am going to convert part of my machine shed to be able to hit tennis and pickleballs against an inside wall. Maybe by the time we get to our location I won’t need to be in the beginner group!

    by Vicki — October 14, 2020

  7. Have been retired for 7 years and really don’t miss working. I enjoy doing everything I couldn’t do when I was working. If you get involved with others or have time to enjoy your hobbies you won’t be bored.

    by Mary11 — October 14, 2020

  8. At almost 74 years old – I remain employed in South Korea by a defense contractor coordinating instruction via computer wargaming. As a retired Army Officer since 1996 – and a computer gamer – it’s been a centerpiece of my last 24 years – 7+ years overseas. Up until the COVID-19 plague – my wife and I have made good our wish to tour Asia, the Pacific; the near and far east … Japan/Okinawa, China, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam, Indonesia (Bali and Komodo Island), Malaysia, Singapore (4x) Australia, and New Zealand. We hope to do Tahiti and the Philippines if/when we can – then perhaps returning to the US or see the rest of the world. My wife- a retired Special Ed teacher has her online businesses to run-we enjoy our lives immensely. South Korea is a safe country, vibrant democracy, rich in tradition, culture with gracious people, and has astoundingly good health care covered by our insurance. By continuing employment which I enjoy and making a difference in a world I know well – we are able to travel more often and in greater comfort than retiring and traveling from the USA.

    by Michael Horn — October 21, 2020

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