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Take This Quiz: Are You Ready to Retire – Or Not?

Category: Retirement Planning

January 15, 2017 — Not everybody wants to retire, even if that is the popular expectation. Many more people, even though they are old enough, aren’t ready to retire yet. This article will help you determine if retirement is right for you, and if this is a good time to do it.

Retirement is a big step and one that is hard to reverse. Our previous surveys at Topretirements indicate that there are a significant number of people who feel they retired too early. We urge you to be sure you are ready before you take the plunge. To help you with your decision we have prepared this quiz. Keep track of how many Yes and No answers you have and at the end we will provide you with an informal, non-scientific score.

1. Do you wake up in the morning wishing you didn’t have to go to work? __YES ___NO
A No answer is usually a pretty indication you might not be ready to retire. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t another job or line of work you might enjoy. And if you love what you do, why would you want to stop?

2. Has your spouse or significant other retired? __YES ___NO __NA
If your spouse is enjoying retirement that might be a good reason to think about retiring yourself. That way you would be free to enjoy trips and activities together, and potentially move to a new location. If you are single, this and the next question might not apply. However if you have close family and friends they might have some application to your situation.

3. Is your spouse/significant other encouraging you to retire? __YES ___NO __NA
If he or she seems against you retiring now, pay attention to what those concerns are. She might just realize something you don’t.

4. Have you developed some strong interests, hobbies, or friendships outside of work? __YES ___NO
Our suggestion: Get started now with some hobbies or interests. You will be happier if you have some ideas and experience with how to stay busy, before you cut the cord. Some people don’t function well without a job to give their lives structure – these folks should consider working longer.

5. Have you completed a detailed budget of your post-retirement income and expenses? __YES ___NO
If you said no – stop right there! Nobody is ready for retirement who hasn’t done a thorough analysis of their retirement finances. If the expense side outweighs the revenue side, retiring before you sort that out could be a disaster.

6. If your post-retirement income (including pension, social security, IRA withdrawals, part time work, retirement savings, and investment income) is less your anticipated expenses, do you have a plan for how to make up the difference?
__YES ___NO

This is the biggie, because if you don’t have enough money to live comfortably, it will be hard to be happy. Our survey respondents indicate that having enough money is very important to a successful retirement. Most people can live on a bit less after they stop working, but most of your big expenses will continue. Medical expenses are likely to be higher than they were during your working days.
It is fairly easy to calculate how much your social security and pension will generate (see For Further References below), but figuring out what your investments will provide is more complex. If it looks like you won’t have enough money, your options included working longer, delaying Social Security, saving more, or finding a way to cut expenses.

7. Can you live without collecting Social Security until at least age 66? __YES ___NO
This question has to do with maximizing your social security benefit. If you have an average life expectancy and take your SS benefit before age 66 you are definitely giving up a significant benefit for you and your surviving spouse. Better yet, for each year you delay claiming between age 66 and 70, your benefit will increase 8%, plus COLA. So if you can delay claiming, either by working longer or by using other savings to live on, you will normally be much better off.

8. Are you not yet 65, will you have company paid health insurance after you retire? __YES ___NO
Many people severely underestimate how much it costs to provide their own health insurance until 65 years of age and Medicare kicks in. A husband and wife can easily pay over $1,000/month in premiums, plus have a $5,000-$10,000 deductible. Expensive drugs and dental care can add onto that. So there is big incentive to wait until you are 65 and are eligible for Medicare. This is an even bigger risk since it appears Obamacare will be repealed. No one really knows what will happen then, but it is likely we will return to risk-based premiums without subsidies, making it very expensive for people over 50 to get health insurance.

9. Have you made any scouting trips or seriously discussed where you might live once you retire? __YES ___NO
It is not essential that you know where you are going to live once you retire, but it does help to have thought about it. Even better is to have made some scouting trips to potential retirement locations. And if you decide to stay right where you are now, make that a conscious decision rather than something that just happened.

10. Do you have solid plans on what you will do every day to stay busy once you retire? __YES ___NO
Retiring without a plan for how you will stay busy in retirement is usually dangerous. Your plan has to be more than “we will travel a bit” or I” will get busy cleaning up the garage and basement”. Having a purpose is a good way to stay happy.

We will be the first to admit this is a non-scientific quiz. But we feel you should examine your answers carefully – retirement is a big deal and a second chance on life. So here’s what we think:
All Yes answers – Congrats, you are ready to retire. Good luck!
1- 2 No answers – You will probably be OK , but think twice about what your No answers were. Obviously, some questions are more important than others. But, if you answered No to questions 5 and 6 (post-retirement income), those answers alone are a good reason to stay working. If you don’t have enough money your chances of a successful retirement are severely impaired.
3-4 No answers – We strongly suggest you consider postponing retirement until you have had a chance to work on your outstanding issues.
5 or more No’s – Retire at your own risk!

Bottom Line
We hope that you find this quiz useful in your retirement preparations. Please add your suggestions and reactions in the Comments section below!

For further reference:
Topretirements Survey Results: Less Than Half Expect to Maintain Pre-retirement Lifestyle
Which of These Fantasies Could Wreck Your Retirement
Social Security’s Retirement Benefit Estimator
A Roundup of All Topretirements Member Surveys

Posted by Admin on January 14th, 2017


  1. Another very important consideration is your health, mental and physical. I would ask myself if continuing to work, at least in your current job, is having a negative impact on your well being. Is your level of job-related stress or physical exertion resulting in adverse health issues? When I reached the point where it was apparent to me that my level of stress was likely to cause serious medical conditions, I knew it was time for me to retire.

    by LS — January 15, 2017

  2. Two of the questions ask about a spouse. I would note that for single seniors, the considerations are different. I think for single seniors the question is whether you have family and friends nearby to spend time. I don’t know the stats ,but I think there are a large percentage who are divorced, widowed, or never married.

    by MaryNB — January 15, 2017

  3. L.S I am glad that you were able to retire. I am a single divorced woman and I do not know if I will ever be able to–it is expensive to live in DC, yet moving elsewhere I may be bored. I do have job related stress at times and they know that I am 62 and will be 63 next September. They have me up against a wall if I do not take the stress–where would I find a decent job with healthcare at my age??? It may not be impossible but it could be tough. I have a one bedroom now and have had for the last 20 years. I am reluctant to downsize to a studio….well being is a big consideration but not all of us have the option.

    by Jennifer — January 16, 2017

  4. LS, I agree that well-being is a critical factor in retirement, even for those of us who are healthy. I pushed back my retirement a year to age 67 due to financial reasons, and I can see how my well-being has been impacted negatively by staying in this job. Because of this insight, I have been saying “No” to my job for additional responsibilities they try to load me with, and it has helped. I mentioned this to a colleague who said, it’s the curse of someone who gets things done: more work. There doesn’t seem to be any backlash to my saying No, at least that I can see. Maybe this spring they’ll say, we don’t want to recontract you for next year, and then I will retire from this job. I’ll continue working to age 70, however, because I need the money.

    I am single and family is urging me to retire. I envy that they are retired, but they are much better off financially than I am, and I will not allow myself to entertain thoughts of their “helping” me in the future. I already made several lifestyle changes that are helping me healthwise. My job’s stress level is high, as are the expectations, and to continue working through the end of the calendar year would increase my Social Security; however, to do this, I must handle stress in healthier ways than I have in the past. I’m working on that.

    by Elaine C. — January 18, 2017

  5. Personally. ….I’d rather live in a studio or tiny house and be stress free. You only live once and with the extra money you can travel or do the things you’ve always put off when working . So I’m retiring at 62 in 2 months! !

    by areti11 — January 18, 2017

  6. I’m a doctor and had to retire shortly before 65. I’m taking early SS. I have no spouse and no debt.
    I’ve never seen a column written about people forced to retire because of health and not able to do part time work

    by Mark singsank — January 18, 2017

  7. I will be 63 in August. I still work. I am a Realtor. My spouse retired 9 years ago. He is encouraging me to work till I am 65 to delay SS. I am not enjoying the job as before. I failed to mentioned we moved to Florida from Illinois about three years ago. I work in real estate now in Florida. The work is steady and I am able to save more toward retirement. I know my husband means well encouraging me to work a bit longer. If I retire too soon, I will have to be careful how I spend. I am in good health and could work longer, but its not the same since I moved to a new location. Its like starting over again in the real estate business. I am not enjoying the business as much as in Illinois.
    The two income, I feel we will be okay financially.
    The quiz is a great tool.

    by Martha Reynolds — January 18, 2017

  8. Jennifer, I can relate to what you are saying. I am divorce and 65 and realistically, I will have to work until I die. It’s just the way things are and there is not much I can do about it. Life sometimes is not what we planned.

    by MaryNB — January 19, 2017

  9. MaryNB, why do you feel that you have to work until you die? You can do a roommate or get assistance from the govt if your social security is low. You do have options not having to live with stress in your life.

    by areti11 — January 19, 2017

  10. MaryNB–that is true you do not have to work until you die. I have decided to maybe work three days a week–just to keep myself active and make extra money. I will choose something fun to do. I could always change my plans too. Once the mortgage is gone, the only steady bill I should have is healthcare (Medicare once 65), and my co-op fees–which are not going down anytime soon. I can work on food costs, but in DC I have polled single people in a situation such a mine and we cannot seem to spend less than $100 per week or $400 a month for food and household supplies. I am not even a meat eater. I am trying to adjust to what will be a lower income in future years.

    by Jennifer — January 20, 2017

  11. Arte and Jennifer,

    I think I will have to keep working until I die for financial reasons. I will not take help from the government as long as I can stand and work and I do not want a roommate. It is just the way it is for so many divorced women. We were quite well off, but ex. hid assets successfully. Such is life.

    by MaryNB — January 20, 2017

  12. Jennifer – my husband and I live in sandiego and spend less than $400 monthly on groceries. DC must be very expensive.
    MaryNB- I would like to know what companies will allow any of their employees to continue working pass early 70s. I was let go at 58….I wish you luck with that. Also, I mentioned govt assistance such as SNAP because I see so many single retired women struggling with putting food on the table.

    by areti11 — January 20, 2017

  13. areti11, I too was laid off at age 58 and I tried getting an equivalent job to what I previously had with no luck. Later on I applied for an office job at a retail company and they turned me down after a GROUP interview for that job but offered me a job in customer service. That is the last job on earth I would consider and turned it down. Other than that one stupendous offer making minimum wage, no other professional jobs turned up for me. So I waited 4 years and applied for SS. If I were eligible for food stamps or any other Federal assistance I would take it. I was on unemployment for 73 weeks after I got laid off. I diligently applied for jobs every week with no luck. I feel no shame for collecting unemployment. I have a girlfriend who works in retail and barely makes ends meet and she qualified for food stamps. However, she was only entitled to about $17 a month! Not much! She came into a small inheritance and was no longer qualified for food stamps. She has worked around 40 years and is still working and plans to keep working due to not have much savings. She is divorced and I would encourage her to take any Federal assistance she might qualify for. Employers typically will not continue to employ older workers. Many corporations clean house every so often and offer all employees over age 55 a package to leave. Sometimes generous, but not usually enough to survive till age 62 to start collecting SS. I worked for a big corporation that offered packages at least twice in the 18 years that I worked there and then they closed the doors and gave a package to all not offered jobs elsewhere. Even though there is supposedly no discrimination against older workers, there is. My husband’s old company offered a package to everyone in the company and said no one would be denied the package. They wanted to downsize. My hub was one of the first to raise his hand to take the package and then a few of the higher ups just about cried and said they didn’t want him to go and tried to deny and then delay him leaving. He had enough of the company after 20 years and demanded the package since it was offered to all. He got it but they didn’t expect some of the people to take it.

    by Louise — January 20, 2017

  14. Louise, thanks for your input. I also will be claiming my social security in 2 months. After I got layed off, my sister passed away, and I needed to move in with my mother who has dementia. She needs constant care so I was not able to look for work even though some companies were interested in me. After my unemployment ran out and cashed out my 401K we were all living on a limited budget. I’d rather not claim SS so early but we need the money. We did qualify for full SNAP and Obama Care benefits but will probably be losing that soon. In my case I will inherit my mother’s home so I most probably won’t be needing further assistance from the govt, but one never knows what the future may bring. I’m just praying that Mr. Trump won’t mess with our Socialsecurity or Medicare benefits.

    by areti11 — January 21, 2017

  15. Note: This Post used to have a very long thread with budget and cost saving ideas that is quite interesting, but off topic. So we moved it to its own new Post, “Living in Retirement on a Budget: Member Ideas“. You can see everything over there and make additional suggestions there, so lets stick to “Are You Ready for Retirement” on this post.

    by Your editor — January 21, 2017

  16. Group: Just an FYI from a recent news article that I believe is applicable here?

    by Rich — June 11, 2019

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