What’s the Ideal Retirement Age?

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By Jeffrey Hauser

I was incredibly lucky. I was hired on to a major corporation at age 30 and worked for 25 years. They offered a buyout to anyone with 25 years service and who also reached the age of 55. It was a lump sum offer equal to 3 years income. Now that may not sound like much, but without revealing the actual offer, with conservative investing it would reach a million dollars in 10 years. So, at age 65, I could draw social security and have a $50,000 a year income with a five percent investment strategy. Not bad considering also I have no mortgage or other payments. But, let’s go back a few years to the summer of 2004 when that event occurred.

After a brief retirement party and I drove home, I was now technically unemployed, albeit with a tidy batch of money fully invested. My wife worked as a professor at a local college and we could get by nicely. I spent a few weeks goofing off as I became acquainted to; not driving to work, attending, meetings, checking voice and emails, and dealing with clients. I had been in commissioned sales and formed a bond with many customers. I still called them on occasion to make sure the rep that followed me was treating them right. But that was my only contact with the old job. Anyway, one can only read, play online games, or go to the store just so often. What was I to do? I was a 55 year old bum.

I had met some people younger than myself that were also retired. Most had started businesses at a young age and either sold them or been bought out. One was an inventor that made millions. Another sold his stock in a company of which he was CEO and also made millions. They were both a few years my junior. The both had jumped right back into a variety of businesses. It obviously wasn’t for the money. They both simply needed to work and get out of the house. Assuming good health, they could live as a retiree for 40 years or more. That’s a long time without the need of being employed.

My generation had figured we would be retired at 65 , collect our social security for 10 years and pass on. That was before modern medicine. Organ transplants, miracle drugs, better health care, and early warnings on various diseases and ailments had altered the landscape considerably. Now we were expected to live into our late seventies or at least 80 and beyond. There was another big change with the corporate scene. Retirement didn’t have to wait until we were 65. Many workers that were hired around age 25 or 30, like myself, could retire by 60 at the latest. Now they were facing 20 years without employment. It’s both good and bad. It’s good if you have a plan to cope with all that time and bad if you are clueless and flounder. Of course your own particular financial picture dictates a lot of what will happen. For instance, if you are economically set, you can do a lot of traveling and fun things. If not, you go out and get another job to cover your present expenses.

Getting back to my situation, I talked my wife into retirement so we could both stay home and start a website together. It’s called the www.thenurseschoice.com and offers health information and doctors referred by nurses and patients for a small membership fee. We spent a year designing it and still manage to do a lot of traveling. It can provide additional income while our nest egg is growing.

So, what about my thoughts on an ideal age? They are as follows. If you are young and in good health, retire ASAP. Then start that second career like we’re doing and take time to enjoy your spouse, home, hobbies, or whatever interests you. I’m learning the guitar, collecting art and coins while my wife is learning to draw and paint. She’s younger than myself but I’m somehow keeping up, thank goodness.

If on the other hand, you retire at an older age, then skip the second career and head straight for the travel websites to plan your next trip. Start reading, writing, exploring, and having fun again. Enjoy the freedom and stress-free lifestyle. You’ll find that you’re never too young or old to reap the rewards of retirement. It’s a wonderful time of our existence and one that simply goes by too quickly.

Jeffrey Hauser was a sales consultant for the Bell System Yellow Pages for nearly 25 years. He graduated from Pratt Institute with a BFA in Advertising and has a Master’s Degree in teaching. He had his own advertising agency in Scottsdale, Arizona and ran a consulting and design firm, ABC Advertising. He has authored 6 books and a novel, “Pursuit of the Phoenix.” His latest book is, “Inside the Yellow Pages” which can be seen at his website, http://www.poweradbook.com and he is currently the Marketing Director for http://www.thenurseschoice.com a Health Information and Doctor Referral site.

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