Column: When Retirement Is Chosen For Us

October 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

Carla Seely Bermuda October 2018[Written by Carla Seely]

Please Note: This article is not intended to discriminate based on age or the challenges that a mature employee might face; this article is intended to help one prepare should retirement happen earlier than expected.

Perhaps you’re in the latter stages of your career and are consciously developing a succession strategy for your role to ensure a smooth transition for your organization when you eventually retire. While this is a sensible and forward-thinking plan, have you ever taken this a step further and considered what might happen if you’re forced into retirement well before your succession strategy can ever be executed?

Imagine this: You’ve spent countless years growing your career. You’ve contributed to the success of your organization. You’ve mentored new employees, navigated the politics and the bullying, and you’ve dealt with an increasingly egotistical workforce. You’ve done all this only to be replaced unexpectedly by a young, enthusiastic whippersnapper, fresh out of university with only a couple years’ work experience under his or her belt.

On the flip side—perhaps due to health reasons or other circumstances beyond your control—you find yourself struggling to remain in the workforce during the latter part of your career and realize that you’re going to have to force yourself into retirement earlier than first anticipated.

Sometimes these and other situations happen and the end result is that retirement is chosen for you ahead of schedule. So, what can you do to ready yourself if the inevitable is forced sooner than expected? Here are a few helpful tips:

Negotiate a Retirement Package, if Possible

If your contract is not being renewed or retirement has been strongly suggested to you, it would be wise to negotiate a retirement package. Perhaps it could be three to six months’ salary, or being allowed to stay on the health insurance with the employer covering 100% of the premium, but trying to get something out of the situation is important while you get your feet back on the ground.

Visit a Retirement Planner or Advisor

You’ll need to meet with a professional who can give you an independent view on how much you’ll need to retire. Perhaps you’ll be better off than first expected, or perhaps you need to make some life changes quickly in order to survive. The goal here is to look at your finances as a whole and determine what you need to do for a stable future.

Determine How You’re Spending Your Money

When times are good, most people don’t think as much about how they spend money and they pay less attention to daily spending. How much do you spend going out to eat? What is your weekly grocery bill? What about utilities and insurance? Being more aware of how you spend your money will cause you to spend it more carefully and allow you to determine any reductions that could be made.

Cut Back Financially

If you’ve been forced into retirement, you’ll stop receiving a paycheck and you’ll need to come up with a plan for cutting back expenses. Develop a budget that eliminates most unnecessary expenses, but don’t completely cut entertainment—you need to maintain your spirits and keep up with your contacts should you still be looking for work.

Downsize Now, Not Later

If your plan in retirement is to downsize the family homestead, buy a smaller property, and use a portion of the equity from the sale to fund your retirement, then perhaps now is the time to implement this plan. This might provide the additional retirement funds that you need and the only difference is that you executed your plan earlier than scheduled.

Find Part-Time Work

You’ll be able to stretch your savings if you have additional income. Consider part-time work or even develop a consulting strategy¬—this could provide the supplemental income you need to at least cover your health insurance or other expenses.

Add Voluntary Funds to Your Pension

I recommend to all my clients, younger and older alike, that they should start putting additional money into their company pension plan. Whether it’s an additional 1% deduction off their paycheck per month or an additional $500 per month, making voluntary contributions is the easiest way to build retirement savings. Furthermore, these additional voluntary funds are not locked-in, which means they are actually available to you and might be able to cover you in the short term, if you need them.

There are no golden rules on how to handle being forced into retirement, but what you can do is recognize that it does occur and financially prepare for it so that you are not caught off guard in the event that it happens to you.

- Carla Seely is the Vice President of Pensions, Life and Investments at Freisenbruch-Meyer. If you would like any further information, please contact her at cseely@fmgroup.bm or call 441 297 8686.

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