What are your options for retiring early?

Are you looking forward to the day where you can stop working full-time? I know I am! Even if you really love your job (like I do, I hasten to add!), there is little that can beat the prospect of taking a step back from the world of full-time work. Retiring isn't something that should be done on a whim, however, and you'll need to think carefully about how your golden years will be financed.

Indeed, while it can be easy to dream about being a person of leisure during your retirement, the fact that you won't have a full-time salary coming in any more means that you need to have solid financial plans in place. In fact, research carried out by Aviva shows 80 per cent of Britons over the age of 55 are concerned about rising living costs, while 41 per cent are worried about the prospect of dealing with unexpected expenses.

Add to this the ongoing problems in the national economy and the fact life expectancy rates for Britons are on the up, and it may be the case that retired life may not be a complete bed of roses, even if you're hoping to stop working early.

So, how do you go about making sure that you have a good retirement plan in place? Building up a solid pension fund is definitely one thing you ought to do, but if you're lucky enough to be able to stop working on a full-time basis before reaching the state retirement age you might be wondering how you will manage financially. Generally speaking, you won't be able to access your private pension savings before the age of 55 nor can you claim a state pension.

Consequently, you might be asking yourself if I can 'sell my pension in advance?'. Technically, you can't do this - and you should beware of companies that claim you can - but it is possible to unlock a substantial proportion of it early.

Doing this is a great way to supplement your income if you're keen to carry on working part-time after retiring from your main job. In fact, research carried out by Aviva shows 41 per cent of 55 to 64-year-olds will work on a part-time basis, so releasing pension funds in this manner could be a great way to supplement your earnings.

Findings from the organisation also indicate 23 per cent of 65 to 74-year-olds received wages or some other type of earned income during the fourth quarter of last year. This represents an increase from the 18 per cent who were doing so in the first three months of 2010, so there is definitely a keenness for older people to keep working, even if they choose to retire early.

If you are considering withdrawing money from your pension savings, however, I can't stress enough that you should seek out expert advice before committing to anything. By obtaining guidance on early retirement fund release you can get advice about how much money you may need to withdraw to finance your lifestyle after you have left the world of full-time work behind.

Are you approaching retirement? If so, let us know how you plan on financing your golden years by posting a comment below.

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