Is early retirement good or bad?
Does early retirement work for everyone? Is early retirement good or bad? Should people retire early? Or work to the age of 70, as Suze Orman suggested?
From my experience, I feel early retirement is great. I can do whatever I want, and live a life without work-related stress. Here are some of the early retirees in the personal finance blogging community, who are enjoying their early retirement life:
- Retire By 40: Joe retired at 38. He is a blogger, landlord, stay-at-home-dad, husband, and wears many hats. Joe described “Why Retiring at 65 is a Terrible Idea”
- Root of Good: Justin retired at 33. His retirement life involves a lot of learning, playing, relaxing, doing and helping.
- Mr. Crazy Kicks: Mr. CK retired at 34. He shared what it’s like in the first 6 months of his retirement.
- Our Next Life: Tanja and Mark just retired early in December 2017. They are exploring their next chapters of life and excitement.
On the other hand, you might also have heard about the dire warnings: don’t retire early, or simply don’t retire. Here are a few:
- “Retire early could kill you”
- “Want to Retire Early? Think Again”
- “Why Even Thinking About Retirement Can Be a Bad Idea”
- “Best retirement advice for many: Never retire”
Check my book on Amazon:
Who is right? I think every article has its valid points. The answer is: it depends. One size can’t fit all. Here are some questions we have to ask ourselves:
- What am I looking for from the early retirement? What matters to me the most?
- What am I going to do after retirement, as I got 9-10 extra hours every day?
- How important is my job to me? Can I live a fulfilled life without working on a regular job?
Before digging into the details, let’s assume money is not a big issue anymore. You have achieved finance independence. Financially you are ready to retire.
Let’s look at the three questions one by one:
What am I looking for from the early retirement? What matters to me the most?
What are the goals you want to achieve by retiring early? How important is each goal to you? If you choose to retire early today, can each goal be attained?
In my case, before retiring early, I went through this process thoroughly with myself. I had 6 goals in my mind:
- Sleep as much as I like to, and get up whenever I feel like to. – Importance: High
- I don’t want to be bossed around and judged, and don’t like to deal with office politics. I hate the performance review, period. – Importance: High
- Run the time in my terms, do whatever I like to. Don’t like the deadlines, tedious tasks, and on the call 24 by 7. – Importance: High
- I don’t want to drive in the rush hours. It’s so crowded. In the winter with snow and ice, I would rather stay at my comfortable home. – Importance: Medium
- Have enough time to cook the healthy lunch and dinner, and don’t feel tired. – Importance: Medium
- Travel in US, China and around the world. – Importance: Low
When retiring early in the spring 2015, I was able to achieve the first five goals. Only the last goal (travel) was not realistic. To me, seeing the world is nice, but is not a necessity.
I’m sure as time goes on, my finance will get better. I’ll have the chance to travel once a while. After all, I’m a homebody, and don’t need travel to make myself happy.
What am I going to do after retirement, as I got 9-10 extra hours every day?
For many retirees, this is probably the hard part. What are you going to do with the extra 9-10 hours at hand?
This may need some planning, and a dry run or rehearsal. It would help if you could take a couple of months off before pulling the trigger of retirement. That gives you enough time to figure out the daily routine that fits you the best.
I heard a story about one couple. The wife was a homemaker, and had a network of friends she socialized with every day. She was content and happy about her life. When the husband finally retired, he was getting kind of lost. The wife said: “Don’t follow me around the house, please. Just do whatever you want to.” Unfortunately he didn’t know what he wanted to do. That’s not a great situation for retirees.
Fortunately this is not an issue for me. I always have something interesting going on. I’m not bored. Reading, writing, listening to music, playing musical instrument, learning Spanish, visiting parks, walking in the neighborhood, cooking, catching up with friends, watching football, etc.
How important is my job to me? Can I live a fulfilled life without working on a regular job?
If you love your job, that is great. I feel you are super lucky. The job is part of your identity, and you feel the joy and fulfillment from the job every day. It may work the best if you keep doing what you are doing.
Some examples are like Warren Buffett, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Larry King retired from CNN for a while, and started doing his internet show. David Letterman retired, and came back to the stage again. Letterman said. “Here’s what I have learned, if you retire to spend more time with your family, check with your family first.”
In my case, job was never part of my identity. It was just a way of making a living. Leaving the job was very easy, and I don’t miss the job a bit.
To summarize, early retirement could be good, as long as you plan well, and figure out what you want. If you love your job, just keep it and enjoy it.
Do you know anyone who retired early? Do they enjoy the retirement? If not, why? Any regret?
Take a look at my eBook, a mini-memoir on Amazon: “DAD’S BICYCLE: Journey of A Chinese Family”.