How do you know when it’s time to retire?

Every year, millions of Americans start their retirement. But how do you know when it’s the right time for you to retire? It’s unique to each person, but we’ve put together a list of three guidelines to help you know if you’re ready for retirement, or if you aren’t quite there yet. 

Two-fold approach: It’s more than just numbers

The numbers are only half of the equation. Being retirement-ready is a qualitative and quantitative conversation.

Consider that it’s common to immediately want to focus on savings when talking about retirement, but one factor often overlooked is having a plan in place to fill your days. Aside from the saving component, it’s important to have a plan for a daily routine that will replace your current routine of going to work each day. 

If retirement is on your horizon within the next few years, start putting together a list of ideas for how you might maintain relationships and community. Having a plan for social engagements in place and spending time finding out what makes you happy—before you retire—is important to your overall wellness and happiness during retirement, according to a report by the American Psychological Association.

Some retirees aren’t quite mentally prepared for the change in lifestyle in retirement. The physical act of going to work every day can be too strong a habit to quit cold turkey. If going full-on retired isn’t your style, one alternative option is a phased retirement plan. This could help serve as a slower introduction to retirement, rather than an abrupt change to your day-to-day life. Additionally, this might reduce the burden of drawing down your investments, obtaining health insurance, and may help you to better enjoy your extra free time. 

Crunch the numbers

Of course, the flipside of knowing if it’s the right time to retire is looking at the numbers. This is where the quantitative approach comes into play. Some say that, in general, those who can save 20% or more toward retirement have the best chance of success. This is partly because they’re saving so much—and partly because they are accustomed to living within their means. Additionally, a good rule of thumb is that retirees who can keep their necessary withdrawals from their savings to 4% or less per year have the best probability of not outliving their money.

Reduce your expenses

Before jumping into retirement, you want to make sure you have a clear view of where you spend your money. Identifying your discretionary and non-discretionary expenses will allow you to be flexible and responsive if and when the time comes to cut back on expenses. And it can help paint the most honest picture of your priorities. For example, you might say that travel is important to you, but when reviewing your cash flow, you may realize how little you spend on it.

So, while it’s important to have your savings in check, it’s equally important to understand the amount you will spend once you’re retired. The amount you’re going to spend will inform other components of your plan. For example, if your monthly spending is low, you might be able to meet your needs with a pension and Social Security—in which case you might not need to save as much or take on unnecessary risk in your investment strategy.

And with reducing expenses comes eliminating debt. Although some debt, like your mortgage, is necessary and useful, the key to this game is reducing expenses. To that end, you’ll want to eliminate as many debt payments as possible. 

When it comes to retirement, everyone’s situation and timing is different. But if you develop a sound retirement plan with an experienced planner, it can help to ensure these guidelines (and more) are in place.


In 2005, husband and wife team Bob and Jillian Doyle decided to leverage their experience in the financial services industry and branch out on their own. During their years of service in the accounting world, they noticed that much of the large retirement community of Florida was severely underserved by other wealth managers. So, they founded Doyle Wealth Management with just the two of them and $45 million dollars in assets under management.


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