One thing has become abundantly clear to me in over six years of helping federal employees look forward to retirement: you cannot plan for retirement successfully if you don’t know and understand all of your options.
The retirement options available to federal employees are numerous and complex. Multiple federal retirement systems with many special rules and provisions are available. As a federal employee, your benefits package is made up of many parts that interact with one another, often in surprising ways. Planning for retirement requires a holistic view of all of your benefits, your finances, your needs, your lifestyle, and your budget. You must make decisions that will have permanent consequences for your future. The decisions you make now can determine your financial security during retirement.
The most frequently asked question we receive is, what will my bring home pay be in retirement? This is a critical planning piece because once you know your retirement income, you will then be able to estimate the gap between your retirement income and your current income while working. In addition to this comparison, we recommend having a written budget reflecting your current expenses and the expenses anticipated in retirement. When these pieces of the puzzle align, true financial freedom is visible.
Recently, an attendee of one of our federal retirement benefits training events suddenly woke up in the middle of the night. She began shaking her husband telling him, “It’s time! It’s time!” Of course at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, his first thought was “Time for what?” She began telling him that it was time for her to retire! The two had been planning for retirement for years, but she never felt truly ready to leave civil service until that point. You have heard retirees say you will know when it is your time to go. This is often the case, but success comes to those who have taken the time to navigate the path.
In the next 11 weeks, we will be shedding light on the key decision points you need to address as you work toward experiencing financial freedom as a federal retiree. Our goal at Retirement Benefits Institute is to bring peace to the retirement planning process. Next week we will jump right into the details of when you can draw your Social Security benefit.
Federal retirees’ two largest enemies in retirement are taxes and inflation. Learn more from this free whitepaper on Taxes in Retirement.
Brandon Christy is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.