Retirement: When to Pull the Plug

Plan now for a happy tomorrow

By Larry Casey  |   Jun 1, 2018
Photo University of Fraser Valley

Retirement is scary. The thought of leaving your comfort zone and putting yourself in a position to start over is simply terrifying. But when it’s that time, you’ll know. I understand that this may not be as helpful as you wish so I will explain a few steps I went through before my retirement nine years ago.

To begin with, I spent 30-plus years on the Chicago Police Department. The vast majority of it was good. At the end I was working days in the slowest district in the city. I had a 7-minute ride to work and I worked with some great people. But as I drove to work, I noticed I was getting angry the closer I got to the district. It was then I realized it was time to go.

Planning a retirement starts 20 years before the actual date. You have to prepare and do your due diligence. Work extra jobs to bank that needed cash. Construct a wealth-building stock portfolio, no matter how small. Pay that mortgage down even if it’s only a few extra dollars per month. Get all the education you may need in the future. Keep in relatively decent physical shape, and take care of any ailments or surgeries you may need before you retire.

Now listen to your heart. If it’s time to go, you’ll know it. If you still love the job, stay with it. If the job isn’t what you can handle in today’s police-bashing climate, get out before you put your pension in jeopardy.

Talk to the personnel department in person and make sure all your papers are in order. In my case, the city had me single with two kids. My wife wasn’t pleased. Make sure all the dates and birthdays are correct. Talk to payroll, if you can, and request a retirement figure that you will see on every check. Remember to save money for the 30 – 60 days you will be in hiatus between the regular paycheck and the retirement paycheck. Request a total sum payout from any duty related monies you will receive after retirement, sick time, vacation time, holiday pay, uniform allowance, etc. I received a nice check for my accrued time and rewarded myself with a car and new golf clubs. The rest went into a new stock retirement account.

Figure out what type of work you want to do after retirement. I suggest nothing close to police work, unless it’s extremely lucrative. Try something new and different: Something that if you don’t like it, you can quit any time. Whatever you do, it must be something where you don’t need the money and something you always wanted try. Maybe go back to school and take classes. Take judo lessons, learn to dance, volunteer work—do something! You need a reason to get up, shave and shower every day. Get into a rhythm.

Immediately after you retire, I’d suggest taking a trip. Maybe a cruise? The point is, go indulge yourself for the years of sacrifice and dedication. When you get home, you’ll feel like you’re on vacation. Work around the house and play catchup. Get all those odd jobs done.  Get out to dinner and a show. Get back into the social world. Start that part-time job when you’re ready. Don’t rush into anything. Relax, you earned it.


Remember: Even after retirement, you can always have coffee or lunch with old friends. Plan on it and you’ll find yourself busier now than when you were working. Enjoy the next level in your life

To all my police brothers and sisters out there, lock and load and protect one another. As always, stay safe.