Ellie Greenberg

Dear Ellie

Think of Dear Ellie as your very own kitchen table, where you can discuss the things that are on your mind. Now that the boomers are turning 60 and those in the Greatest Generation are in their 70s, 80s, and 90swe are all blazing new trails in the third third of life. So, have a cup of coffee and let’s talk about life: the past, the present, and the future. [Editor's note: Dr. Greenberg no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]

Is Early Retirement a Good Idea?

By Elinor Miller Greenberg, EdD

Dear Ellie:

I am in my late 50s and my friends are already talking about retirement. I have worked for a state government agency for almost 30 years and have the option of retiring early (by age 62), waiting until I am 65, or putting off retirement until I am 70. My retirement pay would increase the longer I work. How should I make this decision? Mary Sue

Dear Mary Sue:

You are very fortunate to have a good retirement plan with your state employer. And you are especially fortunate to have so many choices of when to retire.

As economic conditions tighten, I have been advising people to stay on the job as long as they can. Think of it this way:

  • Our lives are getting longer as we stay healthier over a longer period.
  • Women now have an average life expectancy of more than 80 years.
  • Do you want to be in a retirement mode for 10, 20, or 25 years?
  • If you live until age 90, or more, your retirement could stretch to 30 years.
  • That’s about the same length of time that you have been working, if you started in your 20s.

So, if you have plans for another career and want to begin on that new pathway as soon as possible, by all means, take early retirement, begin to collect your retirement benefits, and start your new career while you are healthy and energetic. You’ll be able to earn new income and have the nest egg from your current employment also.

If you enjoy your current job and see opportunities to continue to learn and grow, give it a few more years and stay, at least until age 65. Then, your benefit package will be more robust, you will be eligible for Medicare, and it may not matter if you have additional earnings, especially if you also have some investments that can back up your retirement benefits.

And, finally, what’s the hurry?? If you can keep earning on the job, enroll in Medicare and only pay for a Medicare Supplement Health Policy, and negotiate a “phased retirement” schedule that will allow you more free time to travel and spend time with your grandchildren and friends…why not keep the work component of your life?

Everyone’s circumstances are different, and all of us have a different mix of priorities in our lives. There is an infinite number of ways to make retirement an exciting and rewarding experience. But, no matter which option you take, think about how you will spend your time and how you will support yourself. After all, your retirement years may turn out to be as long as your work years!

Good luck, Mary Sue. Please write and tell us what you decided to do and how it’s going. I know others are facing the same kind of quandary. Ellie 

By Elinor Miller Greenberg, EdD

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