investment club, seized it. “I’ve always operated under the philosophy of paying myself first,” he says. “By making wise investments, living within one’s means, you can reach a point when a package like this gives you the freedom to do some self-determinism.”
Ball is just one example of how baby boomers4the oldest of who turns 55 this year4are redefining retirement. For most boomers, retirement doesn’t signal the end of work life, but a chance to pursue interests, change careers, or start new businesses.
Ready to retire?
But the question remains: How do you determine when it’s time to leave?
If you’re thinking about retiring early or accepting a package, you should first consult a financial advisor, says Richard Bayer, economist and COO of the Five O’Clock Club, a national career consulting and outplacement firm in New York City. “Get help evaluating the package, especially when it comes to the lump sum dollar amount, the benefits you will keep, and whether the package lets you continue your long-term goals,” he advises. Sometimes you can request a bridge to help boost the package. For example, if you’re 58, and your company offers full retirement benefits at age 60, you may request a credit for the years between the age you stop working and the age your company’s full retirement benefits start.
Another tip: Evaluate long-term goals. Again, sit down with your accountant to make sure the numbers make sense 10 and 20 years from the time you retire, says Bayer. If you plan to work later, try to negotiate additional benefits such as career counseling and outplacement. They have become standards in most companies’ severance packages.
“I was not going to work until I was 65,” says Washington, D.C., resident Vendra Hayes. After 31 years of working for both the local and federal government as a volunteer coordinator, Hayes, 53, eagerly accepted the early retirement buyout the D.C. government offered her. “If you have the time in, and you can have a life after retirement, go for it. You need to let it go and go into something else even if it means retiring from one job and going somewhere less stressful,” she says.
Which is exactly what Hayes did. She now works two days a week as a computer technician for The Financial Services Roundtable, a nonprofit membership organization. She found the job through Experience Works, a nationwide staffing service for mature workers based in Arlington, Virginia.
“I didn’t want to sit at home,” says Hayes, “I wanted something to keep me busy, but no more than two or three days a week and no weekends or holidays,” she says. And with her new job, Hayes has been able to gain new skills. “I’ve been taught more technical skills right on the job, which is great,” she enthuses.
But what if you don’t think you’re getting a good enough offer? Think before declining, advises Bayer. Turning down a package can present risks. “The offer may not be so good the next time around,” he warns. “The first round of