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Have the Coronavirus Lockdowns Got You Thinking About Early Retirement?


When the coronavirus lockdowns started back in March, many employees who were able to perform their job duties from home were instructed to do so. For some, this has opened their eyes to what retirement or semi-retirement might look like — and many of them like what they see.

For example, not having to commute to work has given back one to two hours or more each day to some employees. And working from home provides many employees with more flexibility to handle routine chores during the day as well as engage in hobbies and activities they had very little if any time for before the pandemic forced them home.

Accelerating Your Retirement Date

As a result, a growing number of people who are nearing retirement are thinking about accelerating their retirement date. In an informal survey of those 55 years of age and over conducted by Wes Moss, an investment strategist and host of the radio program “Money Matters,” 25 percent of respondents said they would adjust their post-lockdown life permanently after the pandemic ends and keep things much the same way as they were during the lockdown.

If these results were projected onto the entire U.S. population of those age 55 and over, this would mean that about 25 million people are planning major adjustments to their lifestyle when the pandemic ends — including possibly retiring early or entering semi-retirement.

If you’re one of these people, you should start planning now for how you’ll make your early retirement or semi-retirement dreams come true. Of course, you need to plan for how semi-retirement or retiring early will impact your finances and household budget. But you should also think about some of the non-financial aspects of retirement.

5 Questions to Ask

Moss suggests that anyone considering accelerating their retirement date or entering semi-retirement ask themselves a few non-financial questions, including the following:

  1. What does retirement look like for you? It’s ironic that many people spend much of their lives planning the financial side of retirement without giving much thought to this question. Or put another way: What do you see yourself doing after you retire?

For example, do you and your spouse plan to travel extensively? Do you have a favorite vacation spot where you’d like to purchase a second home? Would you like to spend more time with your children and grandchildren? Maybe up until now you thought you’d be happy just staying at home most of the time, but the lockdown has changed your mind about this.

  1. How important is routine to you? Commuting to a job on a regular basis usually imposes a set routine: getting up and leaving the house at the same time each day and following the schedule dictated by a job. If the lockdown has forced you to work from home, this routine has probably been disrupted somewhat — just like it will be in retirement.

How have you adjusted to the new routine, or the lack of routine in your life? Has it made you uncomfortable or have you thrived without as much work structure in your life? These are important questions to ask yourself before you retire.

  1. How will you spend your time each day after you retire? This is similar to the first question but more granular. It’s one thing to say you want to travel or spend time with grandkids after you retire, but it’s another thing to fill up eight or 10 hours of every day that you used to spend working.

Moss has conducted research in which he discovered that the happiest retirees have several core pursuits that make it easier for them to fill their days in retirement. These are hobbies or activities they are passionate about and pursue regularly that bring joy and provide a sense of purpose, as well as an opportunity to socialize. Are there two or three core pursuits that will help you fill the hours of each day?

  1. How closely are you defined by your job? For many people, their job is a big part of their identity. As a result, they sometimes struggle with their identity after they retire. Give some careful thought to this question before you retire so you can begin to seek your identity in something besides your job after you retire. For example, maybe you will take up a new social cause in retirement from which you can derive a sense of identity.
  2. How will you avoid becoming socially isolated in retirement? While “social distancing” and staying at home have been encouraged during the pandemic, remaining socially isolated for long periods of time generally isn’t healthy. In fact, isolation has been scientifically proven to harm both physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, some retirees aren’t proactive when it comes to replacing the socialization they experienced every day in the workplace with new friends and acquaintances after they retire. It’s important to plan for this now so you don’t find yourself socially isolated after you retire.

Start Planning Now

Now is the time to think about questions like these — regardless of whether you plan to retire early or semi-retire due to the pandemic. Doing so will help you be better prepared for the non-financial aspects that go along with retirement.

The commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to Frontier Wealth Management, LLC’s (“Frontier”) investment advisory services. This information should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy or a recommendation for any security, market sector or investment strategy. There is no guarantee that the information supplied is accurate or complete. Frontier is not responsible for any errors or omissions, and provides no warranties with regards to the results obtained from the use of the information. Nothing in this document is intended to provide any legal, accounting or tax advice and Frontier does not provide such advice. This information is subject to change without notice and should not be construed as a recommendation or investment advice. You should consult an attorney, accountant or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.