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Retirement-how did you know you were ready?
Old 01-12-2021, 07:29 AM
  #1

Hi everyone! I looked for the retirement board, but could not find it, so I'm asking here......how did you know you were ready to retire-mentally, physically, financially, etc.? I am 57 and in my 35th year of teaching, and I really would like to retire after this crazy year. In addition to the stresses of online teaching, I'm spending weekends at my 89-year-old Mom's house helping to care for her. However, I'm not positive that I'm ready, especially financially. Any experiences or advice would be welcome!


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My advice
Old 01-12-2021, 07:40 AM
  #2

Seek out a good financial advisor. List all the goals you have for retirement such as travel, hobbies, etc. Be honest about your spending now so you can plan to have close to that same lifestyle later. Ask friends, but donít go by what THEIR retirement goals are, yours will be different. If you donít care for the first advisor you see, donít commit to him/her. Look until you find one you like.
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Old 01-12-2021, 08:00 AM
  #3

Feeling you're ready for retirement and actually being ready to retire are two different things.

Check with your state education department and double check your pension fund. They can give you an anticipated monthly amount you can expect. There may be papers you need to have on file to make the process go smoothly.

Make an appointment with your financial advisor. He/she can project your financial needs over the years and give you an amount you may count on if you need to withdraw from your investments.

If you can plan of paying everything off before you retire. Houses, car and outstanding loans can add up if you're retired so being debt free will give you an easier start to retirement.

Making the decision to retire is a bit scary but knowing your financial situation helps you to feel secure.

Good luck making this decision. You'll love retirement!
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Old 01-12-2021, 08:14 AM
  #4

Good advice from Macmama and Renea. I’m weird, so I didn’t consult my financial advisor because I did my own research and factored in a lot besides money. I informed him I was retiring.

My #1: absolutely positively do NOT retire if you are not financially prepared.
*Be sure you’re fully vested—your retirement system can tell you to the penny how much your pension will be.
*Is your pension (and any other income you will receive) more than enough to live on? Remember COL consistently rises.
*Do you have plenty in your IRAs to supplement your pension when needed?
*Do not rely on future possible work (like subbing). Plan for no work and then if you do, it will be a bonus. But I am philosophically opposed to retiring then working. If you want to keep working, keep the higher-paying job you have now.
*Is your health insurance covered? This is a major consideration.
*Is your house paid off?

I feel very strongly about financial preparation. I LOVE every minute of retirement and one major reason is because, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to think/worry about money. I spend freely.

There are a million other joys I’ve discovered in retirement, but they wouldn’t be joys if I weren’t financially prepared.

Good luck!
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I knew I was ready when...
Old 01-12-2021, 08:19 AM
  #5

Mentally and emotionally, teaching had become too much. The state and district requirements were leaving me with very little personal time and I was working for a principal whom I did not like. The district had mandated and micromanaged so much of the curriculum that I was not finding my joy. Colleagues were competing instead of collaborating and the evaluation system was also stressful. The focus on student data collection skewed how we taught, and they wanted a robotic sameness in the name of "consistency". The meetings were never-ending.

That being said, the financial piece, including health insurance, is huge for you to consider. At 57, you are years away from Medicare and Social Security, so you definitely have to make sure you are covered. You also are too young to remove money from a 403b if you have one without penalty. In my state, I was one of the dwindling teaching population who qualified for the state to pay my health insurance premium till Medicare kicked in, so I did not have that cost. At 57, you can consider working another job if you need to, so that might take care of any potential shortfall. If that is the case though, I would make sure I had something lined up and not just speculate on having that salary in my retirement planning equation. While working something else was not what I wanted to do, several folks I know enjoyed working at something that was a part-time job not related to education, and several others still tutor or sub.

I took advantage of retirement seminars my union offered, as well as a retirement consultation with the pension office in my state. That was extremely beneficial as they were able to project my pension earnings with a few different retirement year options. I discovered if I waited another year, I would not be making a significant jump in my pension, but as a working teacher, I would be using whatever increase i got to pay for my health insurance premium share, which working teachers have to do. My state also has a pension calculator on its website. We are able to sign up for an account without filing retirement paperwork and take advantage of the info on the website.

Many people considering retirement have also made an appointment with a financial planner they trust. Since you are unsure of the financial aspect, that might be a good additional step for you.

Finally, if you could afford it financially, I would think about how you plan to be spending your days. I have rarely been bored in retirement, especially pre-Covid. Before the pandemic, I went to the gym almost daily, had a monthly lunch date with other retired teachers, read lots of books, went to library program, saw tons of movies and traveled, among other things. My neighbor across the street, also a teacher, had a tougher time. She needed more of a fixed schedule to her day than I did. Retirement has been the BEST decision I ever made. Good luck to you.


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Old 01-12-2021, 08:59 AM
  #6

I had a few rough years of teaching, but was too young and unprepared to retire, so I stuck it out. It made me very aware of the financial ramifications of retirement, so when I was able to do it financially, I knew it. I had been working toward being debt free and having enough savings to cover extra expenses not covered by my pension, so I didn't need to take Social Security immediately. I also had a serendipitous inheritance which made me feel comfortable about potential unanticipated expenses. By that time, life had changed, and school was generally going very well. I decided to retire while I was at the top of my game.

I gave a year's notice to my school district, which qualified me for a salary "bump" for my final year. I savored moments with my students, and my "last times" of doing certain favorite activities, projects, and celebrations. I started my pre-retirement year making binders for the teacher who would succeed me, with one copy of each lab, test, worksheet, etc. I just stuck those copies in the binders once a week while purging all the extras I had. I took time as I went along to clear out drawers and shelves, getting rid of junk I had been storing "in case I need it". I gave away useful things that I had no use for.

I relaxed about the parts of being a teacher that I hated. I begged my way out of planning meetings, curriculum meetings, and staff meetings whenever they involved preparing for the next school year. I smiled through my evaluations, knowing that it didn't really matter. I experimented with some "out of the box" ways to teach and evaluate student learning, just for fun. I was a little kinder and gentler about grading.

I do think it all starts with finances! Especially health insurance. Please know that until you qualify for Medicare you will likely need to pay for health insurance, and the cost will likely be the largest expense in your budget, by far. As we age, we truly need good coverage...you just can't be sure what's ahead, healthwise. (My dh, who took no meds, was completely healthy, and never went to the doctor, died of cancer two years after I retired. I could never have predicted that. He thought I should just cancel his health insurance when I retired because he never used it. Boy, were we glad I had kept it, even though it cost almost twice a mortgage payment every month!)

Also consider: how much does your mom need you right now? How long is this situation likely to continue, and is it likely to become better, or worse? That might help you decide whether you need to take a leave (instead of retirement) to see her through a temporarily difficult time, or whether you need to just seek out a different kind of employment so you have more time to be available to her, or whether there are other care alternatives available for your mom, or whether retirement truly is the best option right now. My dh used to say YAHOO (You Always Have Other Options). Take time to explore them, to write out pros and cons of each option, and to truly assess your current situation. The craziness of this year won't be forever. Your mom's needs won't continue forever. You have multiple choices available and I encourage you to evaluate and choose with the knowledge that things are likely to look better in a year or two.
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Old 01-12-2021, 09:05 AM
  #7

I agree with everyone else about checking if you are financially ready to retire. My husband and I retired at about the age you are now. We did a lot of checking before we retired. My husband was a farmer so he was self employed which added additional things to research.

Big things to check:
- Look hard at your bills. What do you have to spend each month to live? to enjoy life?
- Are you eligible to retire?
- Are there any benefits to you staying on longer?
- What kind of increases will you get from your pension over the years?
- What will your health insurance look like? How much will you have to pay? Will it cover you if you move out of state? My retirement's health insurance for me is reasonable, but if I wanted to put my husband on it, it was extremely expensive. We had to come up with a plan for him.
- Definitely talk to a financial advisor.
-Will you work part time once you retire?

Retirement is wonderful, but it is an adjustment. I struggled at first after I retired with what my purpose was in life now. Also I had trouble with suddenly not always being busy and having things to occupy my mind. Not that I have adjusted I love retirement!

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Old 01-12-2021, 09:15 AM
  #8

Financially, I checked with the state retirement people, a few different times over my last few years, to check the numbers and to make sure I thoroughly understood the benefit options and the whole process of retiring.

Mentally, I just knew. I just KNEW!

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Retiring
Old 01-12-2021, 09:16 AM
  #9

My DH and I both retired the same time. We tried to live off our estimated retirement income for a year and saved the rest. We found out we could do it. I subbed for the two years after I retired not for the money but for the adventure! I was offered a bunch of teaching positions from subbing which was interesting. Good luck. Retirement is awesome!
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Retirement ready
Old 01-12-2021, 09:24 AM
  #10

I started thinking about it 3 years before I pulled the plug. I was getting tired, and could see what was coming down the pike in the world of education. (That was thanks to PT.). Started wondering how much stamina I had left.

The first thing I did was sign up for one of the ďAre You Ready to Retire?Ē Seminars offered by our State (county?) teachers association. Learned a lot and it informed my decision as to a time line.

Do not retire if you canít afford it unless you know with 100% certainty you will have a different job for income.


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Old 01-12-2021, 09:35 AM
  #11

Oh, for sureóI would never even consider retiring if I wasnít completely debt free.
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Old 01-12-2021, 09:38 AM
  #12

I retired a month before I turned 59. But I started planning 15 years before that. I loved teaching, I loved my school and had great experiences so it was hard to leave. But Iím a two time cancer survivor and I knew that I wanted to travel and enjoy other things. So I used a great financial planner. I also met with the pension planners at my union.

Being financially ready was important to me. For 15 years I put the maximum amounts in my 403bís and paid off the house. By giving the district a 4 year notice I received substantial bumps in pay for 4 years and a large bonus. DH retired at 56 but is able to keep us on that health insurance until he turns 65. Health insurance is important to figure out. DH is working another job but we still keep the original health insurance because it is less money and better coverage.

Iím glad to not be teaching at this crazy time. Iím sure that adds to making this decision. Good luck.
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:08 AM
  #13

Quote:
Mentally and emotionally, teaching had become too much. The state and district requirements were leaving me with very little personal time and I was working for a principal whom I did not like. The district had mandated and micromanaged so much of the curriculum that I was not finding my joy. Colleagues were competing instead of collaborating and the evaluation system was also stressful. The focus on student data collection skewed how we taught, and they wanted a robotic sameness in the name of "consistency". The meetings were never-ending.
I could have written every single word of this statement. Teaching used to be a joy and passion for me, but when schools started being treated like businesses and students like products, I knew it was no longer for me.

As PPs have already said, if you are not yet financially secure, you may have to stick it out until you are. I'm in California where public school teachers cannot receive Social Security, so make sure that you know the status in your state.
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:10 AM
  #14

Our finances were number one with my decision because we wanted to maintain our same lifestyle post retirement. We saved and invested for over 30 years so we accumulated a lot over time. When finances were in place then 2 weeks after school started one year I just knew that I was ready and hubs agreed. No second guesses and no regrets. I love retirement!
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:42 AM
  #15

You've been given so much good advice so I'm not going to repeat what has already been said. I'll just share my experience:

I retired last May - like you, I am 57 with 35 years. I had considered it 2 years prior and crunched the numbers. I discovered I could make $200 more a month in retirement each extra year I went. For example, by waiting those 2 years, my retirement is $400 more now than it would have been 2 years ago. My decision to retire was made at the beginning of last year, and Covid/virtual teaching just sealed that decision. My husband has worked over 40 years (he still loves his job), and we have saved/invested well.

I am really surprised I don't miss it like I thought I would. I did sign up to substitute teach - thinking I would love it. I didn't. But when my principal approached me about tutoring instead, I jumped on the chance. It only involves 10 hours per week, and it pays well. I still see my teacher friends (although we still talk regularly) and tutoring gives me that sense of joy of helping struggling students that teaching used to give me on a daily basis. The money made from tutoring is extra, so we are not dependent on it - in case I decide I no longer want to do it.

People told me I would know. . . and I did. I think you will know, too. It's a huge decision as for many of us, teaching was a HUGE part of our life. I thank God often that I'm not teaching as I listen to my friends describe their world right now. Good luck!
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Old 01-12-2021, 11:05 AM
  #16

I retired at 56 due to taking care of my parents. I started to feel like my outside job was taking more time and energy than my teaching job. I stopped with the idea that I would sub one or two days a week. Instead, I was done. I got a per diem job at the library that I loved and it was flexible, so I hoped to keep it until 65. (Unfortunately COVID messed with that, so I'm not sure when/if I'll work again.)

Both of my parents need care so it has been a lot - even though they are in a facility - because we have to travel constantly. None of us live near them and they wouldn't budge. My sister ended up retiring early too at 59. Honestly, she affords it because we are gifting from my parent's estate. If that is an option, it can be very helpful to the family members who are caregivers. Basically it's getting part of your inheritance early, a set amount each year up to 15K a person. Because gifts are done equally to all the heirs, it has also bridged the gap for me and my brother during COVID. (My mom is aware that she is gifting as recommended by her financial advisor for tax reasons, she isn't really aware that we retired early because of her or that we actually use/need that money because of that. She doesn't really connect those dots.)

Last edited by MKat; 01-12-2021 at 03:11 PM..
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Old 01-12-2021, 01:11 PM
  #17

My own situation was different from what the majority are describing. I chose to work several years after Medicare kicked in because I did not feel done yet. Possibly because I was out of teaching for about 15 years while raising my kids.

Anyhow, I was still really enjoying teaching and there wasn't anything that I wanted to do instead of teaching. And then...my district made a lot of changes to the program I taught in and I didn't like them. I already knew that our finances and insurance were in order, so I was done!

And it turned out that after a period of adjustment (and a wonderful trip to Spain at the same time the next school year started), I am finding all sorts of very enjoyable things to do in retirement.

But do take time to think about what you plan to do with your retirement time.
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Old 01-12-2021, 02:28 PM
  #18

I suspected I was getting close to leaving. The some of the "new" stuff coming along was very uninspiring. My district was big on throwing out programs without explanation. This seemed very unprofessional to me. My district, once a leader in the state, become less and less proactive and more embarrassing with decision making. Student disapline and some families were tougher to deal with. I was more tired at the end of the working day, even though I was in very good health.
My district, along with the state, offered to cover health insurance until Medicare kicked in. Health insurance was going up. My father was living with us and we weren't sure if he would need more supervision or help, but it seemed like a good idea to take advantage of being more available for him.
One thing I can advise: I had quite an accumulation of days off and the amount was a tidy sum. My district kept trying to nudge me into putting it towards a health insurance account. I had to be persistant about rolling it into an IRA.
DO sit down and think about what you want the next ten years or so to be like.
DO sit down with a financial advisor and go over your funds and opportunites.
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Old 01-12-2021, 03:27 PM
  #19

I agree with all of the advice given. I will just say make sure you have enough money put aside to cover health care/insurance. That is our number one expense every month. It is unbelievably expensive even with my husband on Medicare.
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I am retiring this year.
Old 01-12-2021, 05:09 PM
  #20

It was easy to make up my mind. Our district's retirement incentive that added considerable $ bumps for the final four years of career was going to run out. The state changed the rules and the this was the final chance to lock it in. My financial adviser, number cruncher, and dear friend figured out that I'd have to work at least 7 more years to possibly earn the same amount of money.

I am enjoying each day, saying goodbye to favorite units and topics. I've loved teaching and look forward to whatever adventures await.
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Thank you!
Old 01-12-2021, 05:28 PM
  #21

I really appreciate the time that you all took to respond. And, by the way, I did find the Retired Teachers board! I had looked at the list to the right of the home page earlier, but not down below the Teacher's Lounge. Your advice and experiences kind of make me think that we need to take more time to prepare, both financially and emotionally. I do worry about the adjustment of not having to go to a job every day, and finding a new purpose, as one poster said. And we definitely don't want to struggle financially at a time when we should be enjoying life. I think it would be prudent to talk with a financial advisor, and then plan for 1 or 2 more years and just 'suck it up, buttercup'!
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