Posted on Friday, 7th December 2012 by

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Updated 7/25/2021

Yes, there are ways to retire with more than you can imagine!  There are many parts to this puzzle that YOU have control over and those who take responsible actions now will be handsomely rewarded when they decide to retire.  Having more in retirement doesn’t necessarily mean having a larger annuity, although that too is desirable. You can improve your financial position through promotions, by fully funding your THRIFT plan, saving more, delaying Social Security, working in retirement, to paying off debt.  It’s not too late to start, even if you are only a few years away from your target retirement date.  Notice that I emphasize target date.

A retirement target date is simply a date that you think may be a good time to change course and leave federal service. Often times, including in my case, we revise our departure dates for many reasons; uncertainty, insufficient retirement income, health issues, and for a thousand other reasons. I revised my target date twice and still left when I was 55, not when I first turned 55 but at the end of the year to increase my retirement income and to be able to sell back the maximum amount of annual leave as possible.

A career development plan can help employees maximize their retirement income and provide considerable personal satisfaction along the way.  Your annuity is calculated on your average high three years base salary including locality pay.  By developing and completing a realistic Individual Development Plan (IDP) while still employed you can add thousands to your annual retirement income.  I used these methods successfully throughout my federal career and wrote Take Charge of Your Federal Career;  A Practical, Action-Oriented Career Management Workbook for Federal Employees that is now in its 2nd edition. This book’s companion web site at will help you start your plan and includes free downloadable career planning forms.

Career development isn’t only for those in their early to mid careers.  There are career development initiatives for those within 3 years of retirement that can benefit from this approach.  Actually, most of us have a plan at least in draft form in our heads. We think about it occasionally and then the desire dies off and we go on to other things. To make your plan work you have to write it down and work the plan, baby steps at first until you get the feel for it and understand where you are going.

To increase your high three you have to earn more and to do that you have to explore opportunities for promotion, including reassignment, to boost your salary for those last three years of work.  You can explore reassignment to regional or Washington headquarters or seek a promotion within your department.

You can also maximize your TSP contributions, $19,500 for 2021, and if you are over 50 add the additional $6,500 catch up contributions if possible to retire with more.  Paying off your mortgage also makes sense and the less debt you have in retirement the more you will have to spend on necessities, travel, and entertainment.  This does take some sacrifice and it isn’t always easy. However, if you learn to do with less while employed just imagine how much better off you will be in retirement.

If you still come up short and want to retire anyway or just don’t have anything else planned for retirement you can always consider going back to work. Many find more enjoyable or less stressful opportunities and a change of venue can be refreshing.  Explore your employment options on our federal retiree’s jobs board to find opportunities in your area.

Request a Retirement Benefits Summary & Analysis. This 27 page report includes projected annuity payments, income verses expenses, FEGLI, TSP projections, and more.

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The information provided may not cover all aspect of unique or special circumstances, federal regulations, and financial information is subject to change. To ensure the accuracy of this information, contact your benefits coordinator and ask them to review your official personnel file and circumstances concerning this issue. Retirees can contact the OPM retirement center. Our article is not intended nor should it be considered investment advice. Our articles and replies are time sensitive. Over time, various dynamic economic factors relied upon as a basis for this article may change.

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