While many of us like to dream about retirement, too many of us don’t actually take the steps to ensure a financially stable life once your 9-to-5 schedule comes to a close. No matter your age, it’s a good idea to be putting money away for the future. A retirement calculator can help predict how much money you will need. But these days it seems like there isn’t just one way to retire.
Check out four different kinds of retirement below to see if one of these might match your needs.
When you have saved enough to last the rest of your life ahead of turning 65, you can retire early and reap the rewards of your high income or savvy saving at a young age. You likely made saving a high priority, or hit it big in your career or with a great investment. Early retirement usually means you follow the model of an uninterrupted period of work followed by permanent retirement, but you stop working in your 30s, 40s or 50s instead of in your 60s. If this is part of your plan, it’s important to think about saving for retirement a little differently, since to withdraw money from some specified accounts can bring penalty fees.
This model involves actually retiring several times. In other words, you have periods of intense work but also periods of complete rest. You might work hard and save a substantial amount, travel for a year or two, then return to the work force. This allows you to experience retirement-like activities at a younger age. However, it also often means you likely must work well beyond typical retirement age. During those breaks from working you may not be able to contribute to savings very much. It’s a good idea to have a separate emergency fund in addition to the savings for the mini-retirement breaks so you always have a financial cushion to fall back on.
3. Financial Independence
This is generally what the average person imagines about retirement. You can stop working at age 65 after saving money in a 401(k), IRA or other option. With your own savings, any pension or Social Security income, you are able to support yourself for the rest of your life. In this situation, you don’t need help from your children, you are free from major debt and can probably enjoy a sort of “permanent vacation” lifestyle. But financial independence can also mean you are free not just for a permanent vacation, but to pursue a passion unencumbered with having to make money from it.
4. Part-Time Work
“Semi-retirement,” or retiring from a full-time job to a part-time or consulting-style career can be great for those who would miss work if they retired completely. This means you don’t necessarily save as much money before you leave your full-time job. It’s appealing for people who really enjoy what they do but want more of a work-life balance.
None of these styles are better or worse than the others. It’s important to know retirement doesn’t have to look one specific way and that you can work toward the type that seems right for you.
Finally, it’s important to ensure your lifestyle in retirement doesn’t exceed your budget, or you could find yourself getting into debt to keep up with your expenses. If you spend your way too deeply into debt, not only can it strain your finances, it could also have a negative impact on your credit, especially if you miss payments or you max out your credit cards. (You can see how your debt affects your credit by getting your free credit scores on Credit.com.) Evaluate your budget and expenses regularly, and make adjustments as needed along the way.
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