13/04/12: When should I retire?

A question for baby boomers...

Older baby boomers are increasingly asking themselves a short yet often difficult-to-answer question: When should I retire?

The answer, of course, can depend on many factors including health, satisfaction or otherwise with work, the availability of work, the size of a person’s retirement savings, and the outcome of discussions with spouses.

Interestingly, an article in The Wall Street Journal this month headed – “He Wants to Retire…But She Doesn’t” – suggests that many spouses do not agree about when their partners should leave the workforce.

Journalist Kathleen Hughes quotes research by a US investment fund manager which found that 62 per cent of couples surveyed disagreed with the timing of their spouse’s retirement.

The latest issue of an ABS report, Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, shows that the average age at retirement of those who retired over the past five years was 61. (The average retirement age for men in this group was almost 63 compared to 60 for women.)

Not surprisingly, the ABS report shows that Australians are retiring at older ages than in the past.

Of the 3.2 million retirees aged over 45 in 2010-11 when these ABS figures were collected, the average age of retirement was 53. And of the male retirees in this group: 27 per cent had retired at under 55; 53 per cent between 55 and 64; and 20 per cent over 65.

The Wall Street Journal article and the ABS report on retirement are valuable reminders that we should carefully plan for retirement well ahead of any expected retirement date. And we should think of both the financial and social aspects of retirement – including, of course, the views of our spouses. Rick Maggi.