When timing is (just about) everything

Earlier this year, The Washington Post published an obituary of a woman who retired from the government in the early 1960s. Her retirement lasted longer than her career, which was a full one.

Obits of people whose retirement lasted 30 years or more are not uncommon. The old advice, make sure your last check bounces, is fine. If you know when that will be. Most of us don’t.

That’s something to remember.

A retirement planner once told me that a useful aid for planning your retirement are those birthday/anniversary cards which show what a car cost in 1946, what a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas cost in 1972, or the cost of the average house, car or salary was in 1984, 1992 or any other year. It’s an eye- opener.


He suggested that everybody get one of those cards for the year when they started working full-time. Then compare it to now. Then think about how long you may spend in retirement. Ten years, very likely. Twenty years, quite possibly. Thirty, could be. Bottom line is what are things going to cost when you are living on a pension. Food for thought.

Today at 10 a.m., on our Your Turn radio show, benefits expert Tammy Flanagan is going to talk about why you should plan for retirement the way you plan for your first (maybe only) bucket list parachute jump. The bottom line is you want to be very careful, and make sure you do it right. That all systems are go.

A lot of that pre-retirement planning starts with the best day (or days) for you to retire. In December and January (the two most popular months), that’s generally a no-brainer. Usually, but not always, FERS employees should retire Dec. 31. CSRS people should consider Jan. 1, 2 or 3.

Retiring on the “best” date in December-January guarantees you can carry over (and cash in) the maximum amount of unused annual leave. And be paid for it in the year you retired when your tax bracket should be lower. Retiring on the best date in February, July, September and other months can jump-start your annuity payments, and maximum the final check you get and perhaps extend your service time.

Listen if you can (1500 AM or online), and if you have questions email them to me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or call in during the show at (202) 465-3080. The show will be archived here.


By Jack Moore

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