Roadblocks to retiring early

Retiring early is a tough decision.  There are so many factors to consider.  People do the best they can in terms of planning.  But the roadblocks are always there.

Money is definitely at the top list.  Do I have enough money to retire early?  There are a lot of emotions involved as well.  Am I ready to retire?

Some might say, I don’t want to retire.  I fully understand it.  There are two groups of people there:

  • Group 1: those people love their jobs.  They have fun at work, and feel work is part of their lives.  They might question:  “Retire early?  Helen, are you crazy?  What for?”  I admire them.

Dr. E. Gordon Gee is one example.  Oh my, look at the big smiles.  At the age of 74, he is already at round #2 at WVU now.  Does he plan to go for round #3 at OSU in the near future?  Keep those Scarlet & Gray bow ties, just in case.

  • Group 2: they want to retire early. Some like the jobs, and some may not.  But their goals are similar:  do everything they can, and retire as early as possible.  Many probably fall into this category, and I’m one of them.

This post is for the Group 2 only.

In order to retire early, the most important thing is money, so called Financial Independence (FI).  FI could mean totally different numbers, as the situation for each person is different.  If you feel you have achieved FI, then you are right.  Nobody knows your case better than yourself.

After passing FI, when is the good time to retire?  Some feel that, being good is good enough (that’s me).  But, some argue it has to be better and the best.  Fears and concerns creep in.

The future has lots of unknowns.  There is no perfect plan to cover every possible scenario, even with the help of a good financial advisor.  Stock market, inflation, taxes, health of the family members, you name it.

Fear of running out of money:

How much is really enough to retire early?  Some say, follow the 4% rule, or 3% rule just to be safe.  Nobody really knows.  As a result, we are so afraid of outliving the money, and just keep working.

During the wealth accumulation phase, you probably had a target number to shoot for.  After years of hard work, saving and investing, finally you were there.  A big celebration ensued.  After the party, now what?

Are you going to set up another goal, and promise yourself:  I’ll retire, once this new goal is achieved?

Four years later, you have passed the new goal easily.  Now, is the money enough for you?

The shining dollars are so attractive, and motivate us to pursue it, which is good.  But, it could become a vicious cycle, as it’s never enough.  Sometimes we are distracted, and forget what matters the most.

I’m not an exception.  I love money, and was the slave of paychecks for decades.

But, once a while, I heard some who died young unexpectedly.  Those sad stories woke me up.  Just name a few, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, Gwen Ifill, Tim Russert, Beau Biden, etc.  It reminds me:  life is short, and vulnerable.

While working, my biggest fear was:  get seriously sick, and leave this world without enjoying a single day of retirement.  Luckily, this is not a fear to me anymore.

Health insurance concern:

I’m with you.  Health insurance is a big headache in US, especially for early retirees.  I spend quite a lot on my health insurance policies with poor coverage.

Some might not want to retire early, until the government sorts this out.  But the truth is:  this mess has been going on for 40+ years at least.  I doubt the government has a good solution.  I hope I’m wrong.  They might not even care about it, as those politicians are well covered.

Even MediCare is not that great.  The standard coverage (including Plan B) does not include prescription drugs, vision and dental.  Some supplemental plans have to be purchased to cover those items.  Plus, it can be changed for better or for worse at any time.

Waiting for the US health care solution is like to guess who will be the US president in the year of 2040.  That’s how I feel.

Sweet home and a beach house:

Americans love the big mansions.  Over the last 50 years, the average size of US homes has been more than doubled.  The average size now is at least 2400 square feet, and that is 223 square meters.

Retiring early means more time spent at home.  Sure, everyone needs a comfortable place to live.  How big is it big enough?  How much money do we want to put into the house?  The bigger house means more years on the job.

And a beach house would be nice.  I won’t refuse it.  It’s only nice if we could afford it.  If it means delaying the retirement for another 10-15 years, it may be worth weighing the pros and cons.

Concerns about kids:

As parents, we always want to see the kids doing very well.  Sometimes, kids are a big factor for parents to decide when retiring early.

When kids are in the middle or high school, some might say:  I want to wait for my kids to go to college before retiring.  Sure, that’s a legitimate concern.

When they are in the college, you might want to delay the retirement until the kid graduates, gets a job, and settles down.

Once the kid has a good job, now you can retire, right?  Not so fast.  Some parents may choose to hang on the jobs a little bit longer, because the kid is going to get married soon.  And the parents like to foot the down payment for the kid’s first house.

The concern never ends.  It’s part of the fun being a parent.

Summary:

There is no perfect time to retire early.  The roadblocks are getting in the way.  It’s up to each individual to decide, what level of risks they feel comfortable to take.

At the end, life is about taking the chance, isn’t it?

What’s your concern about retiring early?  Money, getting bored, or you need a perfect beach house?

 

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8 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    Another great post Helen. For me the toughest part of early retirement is knowing when you have enough saved to retire comfortably without running out of money. It doesn’t matter how many times you go over your numbers there is still many unknowns, especially when retiring at an earlier age than the standard retirement age.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Steve,
      Thank you. I feel the same way, the gut-wrenching feeling if I’m going to be okay financially. After 10 or 15 years, I’m sure my numbers will give me a better peace of mind then. Just the beginning of retirement is the tough time, as I’m very cautious in many ways in personal finance.

  2. Joe says:

    Those roadblocks are tough. It takes gut to retire early. The big one for me is health insurance. Healthcare is so expensive in the US, it’s crazy.
    Kid isn’t a big issue for me. I think early retirement is better for the kids. You can spend more time with them. They can find scholarship or get a loan if they really need to.
    Oh, I think you missed a big one. A lot of people are afraid they’ll be bored if they retire.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Joe,
      You are right. I missed the big one: fear of getting bored. It’s not an issue for me, and I thought that’s the case for everyone. Having been working for that long time, it could be tough. Suddenly, the highway speed becomes walking speed, and some are not used to it. It is a challenge. Yeah, healthcare is a big concern to me as well.

  3. GYM says:

    Great post Helen! I think people who are more extroverted or who define themselves with their job are more afraid to retire. Extroverts are usually the type of people who get bored without stimulation or talking or people around. Introverts are people who would rather spend time alone, reading, or on the computer or retired early, I find! It’s just a casual observation of mine. I know some people who are already 65 and are not retired yet and I commend them for having the energy to go to work every day Monday to Friday for 8 hours a day! I would not have that kind of energy at age 65, I guarantee that! 🙂

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      GYM, thank you. Very interesting perspective. This week, I’m reading some books about introverts, because I’m one of them. It’s good to know I’m not alone. Yeah, I’m with you. I just can’t imagine myself working till or beyond the age of 65. That would kill me for sure.

  4. I had no problem retiring at 60. Not that I had a lot of money I just hated work and never found a job I enjoyed doing for 45 years of FT work. It is a form of monetary slavery. It’s easier to retire if you don’t get into debt. Debt is what keeps you in slavery IMO. It also helps if you have a pension. Work is over rated as a lifestyle choice. Get out as soon as you can afford it.
    I now fill my days reading, blogging and being a house husband. Love It!

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      I’m glad you enjoy the retirement life. After those long working years, finally you made it. It’s a huge achievement, congrats!

      Yeah, to me, most of the time, the job was just a job. Only sometimes, I had fun. And sometimes, I hated it, and felt stuck there just for money. Debt definitely is a big roadblock to retirement, and needs to be tackled. In my eyes, retirement means freedom, choice, happiness, and good health.

      Thank you for sharing your thought.

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