BOSTON (CBS) – I found that early for most people was age 55. If you want to retire early you’ve got to rev up your planning.

  • You’ll need to save aggressively in your retirement plans as well as outside your plan. Most retirement plans can’t be accessed until age 59½, an exception would be state employees and the earliest you’ll get at your Social Security is 62 unless you are widowed or disabled. So you’ll need personal savings to support yourself until you can get at the tax deferred savings without paying the 10% penalty.
  • Retiring early means you’ll need to plan for 30 to 40 years of retirement living. You may spend more time in retirement than you did working.
  • Make arrangements for health care. This may be your biggest expense in those early years in retirement. You are not eligible for Medicare until age 65. You may have 10 years of paying your own way and for a couple that could cost $8,000 to $17,000 annually depending on the plan you choose. Many early retirees are working part-time to get medical coverage. It could cost $150,000 or more for those 10 years in early retirement.
  • Plan how you are going to spend your days. What will you do with your time? How much fishing, golfing and gardening can you do each week? What will make you want to get up in the morning?
  • Take a monthly calendar and fill in the days with how you will spend your time in retirement. Will you have playmates to golf with? Do you have a playmate? Many early retirees find that their peers are still working and they have no one to play with!
  • If you are coupled, be sure to include your partner in your planning. Does your spouse want to retire early as well? Often times a wish to retire early is just frustration with your current job.

The soft side of retirement planning is just as important as the financial side.