Page 20 - BusinessWest September 1, 2021
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Is Early Retirement for You?
How the Pandemic is Reshaping This Decision for Americans
By Jean M. Deliso, CFP
After a year of Zoom calls, a deadly virus, inflated real-estate values, and a crazy stock-market surge, many Americans, mostly Baby Boomers, who can afford to retire are taking the plunge.
This pandemic caused mayhem for everyone. It drove the healthcare industry almost to col- lapse, families lost loved ones prematurely, par- ents became teachers, and many businesses did not survive. But amid all the gloom and doom was a silver lining for many. The government became efficient with quick economic actions, families re-evaluated the benefits of family time, pollution got a brief time out, and businesses became more electronically efficient, to name a few.
Through all the challenges, people took time to re-evaluate their priorities in life. Many are choosing to rethink their future and what is important to them going forward. In fact, about 2.7 million Americans 55 or older are contem- plating retirement years earlier than they had imagined because of the pandemic, according to a Bloomberg report. Between increasing retire- ment-account values, those lucky enough to have pensions, an increase in home values, and government funds that have been put back into the economy, retirement is happening sooner
than expected for many.
As a certified financial advisor, I have met
with many individuals contemplating retire- ment who have decided “enough is enough — life is too short.” Some reasons include a scare with cancer five years ago that made my client reconsider his com-
mitment to climbing the corporate ladder, or “I’m just not happy doing what I’ve been doing for years; it’s no longer fun.” Potential retirees have either saved enough or have decided to spend less in their retirement years.
In contrast, many
Americans who were pushed out of their jobs by the economic slide of the pandemic had to take an early retirement against their wishes. This has resulted in them receiving lower Social Security benefits and pension amounts. Twenty-two per- cent say the pandemic has forced them to spend their emergency savings, 10% have reduced their retirement-plan contributions, and 12% have withdrawn money from their retirement accounts, according to a survey by the National
Institute for Retirement Security. Unfortunately, both scenarios have resulted
in increased stress to Americans in the workforce regarding retirement. None of us know our date of death, which makes retirement planning tricky for most.
“Whatever your circumstance, achieving your retirement objectives will not happen automatically. The earlier you start planning, the better off your chances are of enjoying a happy, fulfilling, and long retirement.”
Too many Americans rely solely on Social Security. This pandemic proved that those bene- fits do work; checks were consistently received by Americans as the pandemic raged around them. This experience shows that the Social Security system works. Also, checks were sent to those who couldn’t find jobs.
       Whatever your circumstance, achieving your
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