The Dark Side Of Early Retirement

Darth Vader MaskIf you look carefully around the web, you’ll read scores of articles about the desire to retire early. Yours truly wishes to finish up no later than 45, as I believe working for 20 or so years is a long enough time.I’ve done the math with various living and return scenarios and it can be done. But the question is whether it’s a good idea? Perhaps not.

Now that the economy is in recovery mode, it’ll be interesting to see how attitudes change towards early retirement. Will those who’ve short circuited their careers feel the pull to return to full time work and maximize their earnings potential again? I believe so. What about all our “lifestyle design” and “digital nomad” friends who had a rough time landing something stable they truly love? Possibly they’ll come back too.

Those who are able to retire early are often cherished. I certainly admire those who are able to cut down their desires to the bare bones and live a very frugal lifestyle. I also admire those who’ve been able to strike it rich very early! That said, perhaps early retirement isn’t a good idea for the large majority of people. Let’s explore several reasons why people want to retire early, why they exist, as well as understand why we should all think twice about pulling the rip chord too early. Someone has to argue the other side, so it might as well be me.


1) Haven’t found the right job. The number one reason why people want to retire early is because people haven’t found a job that gives them enough fulfillment to do for the rest of their lives. Nobody quits a job they like. If there was a job paying $80,000 a year to hike in the mornings and get massages in the afternoon, I’d do that forever!

2) Easier way out. If you are a sub-optimal performer, you tend to experience a sub-optimal lifestyle. It’s easier to just give up as a result. Let’s say you are a research scientist who after 10 years never produces any relevant research and finds no cures. Instead of going on with failure, you decide to give up and get out of the game. Early retirement is like the cowards way of not having to be the best any more. Some even liken it to suicide.

3) People are lazy and want things now. Society has shifted our ideals from hard work and thinking long term to instant gratification. Nobody has the patience to work for decades before being eligible for a pension. We all think we know more than we do and deserve to be the rich boss now. When we don’t get our way, we quit, rather than letting people know we couldn’t reach our potential.

4) A feeling of hopelessness. During the downturn a tremendous amount of people began writing about location independent lifestyles that allow one to break free from the 9-5 and “really doing what you want.” In actuality, we all know that what they really wanted was to have a good job and be accepted by society. It’s because of the downturn of 2008-2010 that so many were displaced with nowhere to go. If they did, perhaps they’d think differently. In an economy where everybody is losing money left and right, what’s the point of working some think. Well, the economy has roared back with a vengeance and if you aren’t working, you are falling farther and farther behind.

5) Realization that time is precious. With the median lifespan hovering around 80 years old, you only have 15 years of retirement to enjoy your life if you retire at 65. People in this camp have a heightened awareness of time and therefore do everything possible to make sure they are financially stable sooner, rather than later. I’m a strong believer in this thought process, but at the same time, I don’t want to cut short my potential. The worst is running out of money and being too old to do anything about it.


1) Oops, you change your mind. Imagine retiring at 37 after 15 years of work after undergrad. You spend the next 3 years traveling the world, living a leisure lifestyle and experiencing new things. At age 40, you realize the reason why travel and play is so fun is because of work! You have the urge to get back into the game, but who’s going to risk hiring a 40 year old with a 3 year employment gap? The employer will suspect you are rusty, and that you may just bolt after a year. As a result, the employer simply chooses to hire someone with no gap in their employment, or someone else from another firm.

2) You run out of money. No matter how conservative we are in our retirement money needs, something unforeseen may happen. Maybe you have a medical disaster, or your house blows down. Maybe your investments tank due to a massive economic downturn. Who knows what the future holds. But if you partake in “normal” early retirement, without the mega-millions windfall, you may find yourself needing more one day. Again, a large employment gap is perceived as riskier by the employer and you may be un-hireable. Here’s a savings guideline by age you should consider.

3) You lose touch with friends and family. It’s nice to have all the time in the world to do whatever you want.  But, if your friends and loved ones are busy working all day, they can’t join you on your midday hike or adventure to Bora Bora. They may also have a family to tend to during the evenings and on weekends. If you’ve ever taken a staycation by yourself, you’ll soon realize how lonely it is when others are busy leading their own lives.

4) You may find it difficult to start your own family. Unless you have a tremendous amount of money, raising a child may be too expensive an endeavor to undertake as early retirees. If you never wanted to start a family, chances are you haven’t been saving for a family. Let’s say you’re a woman who turns 35 and suddenly realizes the safety window for having a baby is closing rapidly. It may be tough to even get pregnant, let alone support a new born without the right support network.

5) You lose your own self-respect, and the respect of others. Unless you’re out there saving the world,  you might start getting depressed you are contributing very little to society.  Others will stop respecting you because you aren’t doing anything productive either. Traveling the world and writing about how great your life is a very unproductive endeavor. You better be learning a new language and volunteering in the local community, or else you’re just a travel bum. A great many rich early retiree friends from the Dotcom bubble have mentioned they wish they didn’t get rich so quickly.  Instead, they wish they worked a little harder for their money.


Early retirees will croon about how great their lifestyles are. I’m sure, in some ways they are spot on. But notice how they seldom write about the hardships they face. They can’t, because it’s important they continue highlighting how awesome everything is, to justify their decision to no longer work. Can you imagine spending 16 years going to school (grade school + four years of college) only to work for 10 years? Some would surely say that’s a waste, would they not?

The worst that could happen is some aspiring scientist, musician, lawyer, or teacher decides to give up their careers because they believe traveling around the world on a shoe-string budget is so glamorous. Years later, they realize their fingers don’t remember the notes anymore and the chemical formulas are one big haze. Maybe they would have made it as a concert pianist, or helped discover the cure for seasonal allergies, ACHOO! What a shame they never reach their full potential.


As I strive to fulfill my goal of retiring by 45, I’ve come to the realization there’s an unhealthy focus on self.  “What do I need to amass to be comfortable?” should be replaced with “How much do I need to be comfortable while helping others?

It’s absolutely selfish for me to even consider working less than the number of years I went to school. I think back upon my childhood years and how much effort my parents put into raising me. My mother would spend hours a week sitting down with me after dinner to explain mathematical equations My father would read all my essays and fix all the punctuations and grammatical mistakes. I would feel like a disgrace not to at least try and do great things.

45 is just an age goal. If I haven’t achieved my potential by then, I don’t plan on retiring even if I have the money to do so. The point of having an earlier-than-normal retirement goal is to help keep someone focused. Like an exam that’s 3 months away, we don’t study until the week before. Hence, better to believe the exam is only a week away so that we are better prepared.


Early retirees sometimes like to pity those who have to work. Yet perhaps we should empathize with those who are lost and haven’t found something they truly love to do (point #1). It’s impossible to all be great humanitarians working tirelessly until the age of 65. It’s easier just to give up and tell the world how fabulous your life is, and how you’ve retired on your “own” terms.

As the economy recovers, perhaps we’ll be able to bring back our lifestyle design friends to their home countries to work again. Our early retiree friends will stop fearing failure as employers open their arms wide open and allow them to succeed. Entrepreneurial ideas flourish once again due to an abundance of capital. The more the wealth gap widens, the more the early retiree crowd will want to get back to work, and realize their full potential.

There comes a point when working isn’t about money anymore since we have enough.If we all reach this point, we’ll no longer be focusing just on ourselves, but on helping others as well. We’ll be doing something we love, that provides a sense of purpose. Here’s hoping we all get there!

Recommended Actions For Retiring Earlier Than Normal


Shop Around For A Mortgage: LendingTree Mortgage offers some of the lowest refinance rates today because they have a huge network of lenders to pull from. If you’re looking to buy a new home, get a HELOC, or refinance your existing mortgage, consider using LendingTree to get multiple offer comparisons in a matter of minutes. The Fed is signaling interest rate hikes due to inflationary pressures now. When banks compete, you win.

Manage Your Money In One Place: Sign up for Personal Capital, the web’s #1 free wealth management tool to get a better handle on your finances. You can use Personal Capital to help monitor illegal use of your credit cards and other accounts with their tracking software. In addition to better money oversight, run your investments through their award-winning Investment Checkup tool to see exactly how much you are paying in fees. I was paying $1,700 a year in fees I had no idea I was paying.

After you link all your accounts, use their Retirement Planning calculator that pulls your real data to give you as pure an estimation of your financial future as possible using Monte Carlo simulation algorithms. I’ve been using Personal Capital since 2012 and have seen my net worth skyrocket during this time thanks to better money management.

Want to make extra money quickly and easily? I’ve recently tried out driving for Uber in 2015 because they are giving up to a $300 bonus after you make your 20th ride. After 25 hours, my gross pay is $32/hour, which is not too bad! I can see how people can easily make an extra $2,000 a month after commission and expenses with Uber or any ridesourcing company. I’d definitely sign up and drive until at least the bonus . Every time I plan to drive somewhere, like my main contracting gig down in San Mateo, I’ll just turn on the Uber app to try and catch a fare towards the direction I’m going. Why not make extra money?

$32/hour is a huge pay cut for me and it’s a humbling experience as well. But discovering the whole ridesourcing experience first hand is fascinating! I’ve got so many stories to share in the future about my experiences picking up random people.

Updated on 6/25/2015. I experienced two years of early retirement from 1/2012 to 12/2013 and I stand behind everything I’ve written in this post. Early retirement is somewhat selfish and nobody retires early from an activity they love to do. Although I tried hard to stay retired, I was given an offer to join Personal Capital, a financial tech startup as a consultant for 25 hours a week. My follow up post is, “Once You Retire Early It’s Impossible To Stay Retired.”


Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

You can sign up to receive his articles via email or by RSS. Sam also sends out a private quarterly newsletter with information on where he's investing his money and more sensitive information.

Subscribe To Private Newsletter


  1. says

    Under a bulky amount of assumption in this article, I see an unrefined sense that retirement does not mean one quits having life purpose. Working to earn does not = purpose. Working for purpose does = contentment. Define the difference in your own life, chase the dream, work your tail off, and don’t forget to be happy and content in whatsoever situation and/or circumstance befalls you.
    .-= Matt Jabs´s last blog ..DFA Link Rally: I Have a Week Off =-.

  2. Search with in says

    What I think man cannot be retired at any age in life. He always have something to do , he can stop earning but still he will need money and it become quite difficult for him to get it from some else. Mostly what i think those people retire early those who either have some hidden mean or some earning coming easy or some one helping him in his loving.
    .-= Search with in´s last blog ..3rd Time i failed to get google Adsense Ads =-.

  3. says

    I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently, especially after I was unemployed for about a month, which was horribly boring! I’m not so sure I’d like to retire early, but just have the option, which is why I like living below my means. I think you bring up a lot of good points including that the lifestyle design movement may shrink if more people are gainfully employed rather than sitting in front of their laptops.

    What kind of things would you like to be doing when you hit age 45?
    .-= Ryan @ Planting Dollars´s last blog ..Adding Content To Your Travel Site – Waikiki Site =-.

  4. Parag says

    Early retirement holds its pros and cons. But I personally was not in favor of early retirement from the beginning when this ideology came up. One of elder cousins is working with a big MNC having very good salary. He planned to retire early (around the age of 45) and in doing so he is not able to dedicate any time for his family. Also what early retirement does is that when we are completely skilled after a certain age and experience, we waste all those efforts we put to get those skills. In fact that is best time to yield all the benefits of those hard efforts put in.
    Personal finance

  5. says

    Sometimes people do have to stop working at something they really enjoy – if their health won’t allow for them to do so. This can happen with age, despite the best intentions and management of one’s health.

    It is great for folks to have the OPTION to work as long/short as they want to. Its that type of control that having money can provide. Invest early, invest often, actively manage your assets and let compounding lead the way. Then your options open up later in life. Sound so easy, right? :)

    I do like this post and topic – thought provoking.
    .-= Squirrelers´s last blog ..Remember Rule #1 – Don’t Lose Money =-.

    • says

      Retiring early is a good hedge against bad health. It’s part of the reason why I want to retire early. What if I get really ill at 60.. at least I’ll have 15+ years to enjoy something before my health deteriorates. One never knows.

  6. says

    Selfish?!? What’s wrong with selfish? Are we only here to be slaves to society and submit to its whims? Why not work fewer years than you went to school. Did your mother and father work so hard educating you to see you grow up and be a drone, working away your life feeling shamed at thoughts of self, or did they want you to be happy?

    Retirement isn’t about social status, obligations to society or standards of living. We accept certain changes to our lifestyles to avoid work. Even doing what you love if fraught with compromises when you do it for others. Ignorant management, bad bosses, corporate policy, government regulation, etc. get in the way. Retirement, especially early retirement, allows us to do what we love for it’s own sake. The freedom retirement brings can far outweigh the perceived negatives, allowing us to pursue out life on our terms.

    • says

      Dan, sorry you have such anger. Don’t worry, I’m pretty happy go lucky. I just think it’s a shame people don’t recognize their full potential. What’s wrong with selfish is that it’s selfish. Others could use your helping hand. Try it out sometime, then you wouldn’t be so angry.

  7. says

    Wow… I find it really fascinating that people see such a distinct line between being employed and being retired. Have you considered the idea that there’s a lot of grey area in between? There are plenty of ways to make money without “having a job”.

    I haven’t been employed for 3.5 years, and I actually think that if you average it across the past 10 years or so my income has gone up… and I KNOW that my stress level has gone down.

    I would encourage everybody to get beyond the “selling your soul to the company” model of life. Just a thought…

    Yours in Frugal Green-ness,
    Rebecca The Greeniac
    .-= Rebecca The Greeniac´s last blog ..The Cable has been Cut! No More Comcast! =-.

    • says

      Is there a chance that you didn’t make too in your day job? I ask because it is quite rare to make more online or by yourself than a typical $40-50K/yr day job. Thnx for your insights.

      • says

        Well, I did work in the non-profit world so I didn’t have an enormous salary. But actually, I made nearly $100K online the first year I did it. It’s dropped off significantly, but mostly becaues I got lazy. I live on less than $20K annually, so it just wasn’t worth it to me to work so hard.

        • says

          Gotcha, thanks for the insights Rebecca. Making $90-100K online is a GREAT feat that is not easy to do! To be able to live off $20k annual is also another good thing I give you props for. I think 50K/yr for the two of us would work well, provided we don’t have rent or a mortgage.

      • says

        I actually seem to manage just fine on about $20K and I still have a $500/month mortgage, but it will soon (hopefully) be paid off! Perhaps there is a fringe benefit to living most of your adult life surrounded by starving musicians!

  8. Jade says

    I have to disagree with the statement of our monetary system is bad. Take away govt intrusion and all these social programs and you will see the “free market” start working at it’s best. I’m liberal capitalist and an economist at heart. The capitalist system works just fine. Look at how some people can retire, new talented individuals opening their own companies, being better educated etc. When we stop stuffing people into a dependency cacoon and let their genius and creativity flourish you will see a whole new person. Retirement isn’t in any way selfish. No one owes anyone anything. Those who are persistent are rewarded and if I had to reward the “not so persistent workers” the amount or perks, what’s the point of me working so hard? It’s true not many people work because they want to and not because they have to. It’s not that easy, then again maybe it is. It’s all a matter of perspective. Those who criticize early retirement forget that we are not retiring to our bedrooms but to the conquering of the rest of our lives, be that what may be.

    Read up on Adam Smith, see what you get out of it. Russell Roberts is another good economist also.

    If I hadn’t the ability to retire early, I wouldn’t have the business I have now and that business is employing several other business and their employees. So early retirement isn’t about being idle but creative. Put a man in a room with nothing but a desk and a notebook and by the end of the day the man would’ve made himself a job to do. The mind needs to be constantly challenge. That’s what retirement to me is all about.

  9. says

    Another Dark Side to early retirement is that the risk of outliving your money could increase. You’ll want to make sure your savings will allow you to enjoy those relaxing years. Daniel Solin’s article offers guidelines on retirement planning to help your money outlive you.

  10. Kirsi L says

    I have never had any desire to retire at 45. In fact, I’ve always thought that I would love to to leave this world while still busy with action.

    I know, I’m one of those suckers who just love their profession. And yes, there are times when whatever I’m doing starts to feel like burden. Thats a signal that I need to switch, start a new business, or get another hobby.

    To be honest, all this early-retirement-stuff on the web baffles me. What on earth are you going to do with your life with nothing to do? I understand the early retirement only in the sense that you free yourself from 9-to-5 (model that so far has suited me well since otherwise I’d start slacking) and do something else, productive. Any human being needs a goal, a feeling of purpose, something to strive for. You do not need to start a new superbusiness (though for some that’s the way to go): for some, writing travel books or living off a farm or doing whatever feels right is, well, right. Without that vision, early retirement becomes the grave while you’re still alive.

    I do thing we need to rethink retirement. Working part-time should be norm for older people. Starting up businesses should be easier. Having a year off should be easier, and it could replace those pitiful weeks every now and then we call vacation. (One friend just did that – and he did have to threaten to leave the company for good before getting a sabbatical.)

    But whatever you do, DO. That’s the only way to be happy.

    • Kirsi L says

      I also find this discussion about “should or should not work be the thing rocking your boat” absurd. It simply shows how narrow our definition of work has become. And I do thing many people would find jobs that feel better than whatever they do now – even if that would not be their passion – if they thought at least a little outside a box.

      That said, if one can keep work as work and find fulfillment elsewhere, who am I to disagree?

    • says

      Hi Kirsi – What is it that you do for a living? Perhaps you are one of the lucky ones blessed with doing exactly what you’ve always wanted to do?

      • Kirsi L says

        Well, I must admit I’m one of those suckers doing exactly what they got excited about at 11 :) My field is IT, the tech side, which may or may not come as a surprise…I still remember browsing through all the it mags in the local library, and coding evenings at home (secretly, as admitting such a passion would have been a social suicide;)

        I think one reason I still love to work is the fact that there are plenty of things to choose from in my field. I started out of passion for coding: later, after finding interest in business and communication, I was able to start giving lectures and work on a business of my own.

        Another reason why I still love my work is that I don’t overdo it. As an European, I’ve enjoyed full 4-5 weeks of vacation each year – in my current company, where I am a partner, hours are even more flexible. I do work hard when I need to, but at some point, one must stop to breathe.

        I’ve also played the mom card: in my country, you can have paid leave of up to 9 months. I only used 6, and let my husband keep the rest. I used the free time (surprisingly enough, there’s free time when baby is small) to read into a new topics of interest: politics, economics, and environment. I also started blogging about those issues. If we get another, we might move abroad for the duration of the leave.

        I think work is considered too narrowly. People change, and interests change. One must be ready to change what they do when that becomes a burden. (There are always times in life when something does not feel exciting – sometimes the feeling passes, and sometimes you need to change the assignment, the job, or even the entire profession.) I’ve had my share of feelings about not being in the right place, and then I’ve done something about it.

        I’m not saying you could not follow your passion while no longer working. For me, it simply gives the structure in my life that I’d otherwise miss (4 weeks, and I’ve always been more than eager to get back to work). Maybe less lazy people work this dilemma better…

        • says

          Kirsi – It is a different world in the US. We only have 3 months maternity leave max, and vacations are less. Europeans are lucky, and I guess Greece is changing that by making Europeans work longer and harder now.

          BTW, your comments get caught in the comment/spam filter and are all there. I just need to release them. The system should learn.

  11. Suzan says

    Kirsi, I’d like to leave this world still busy with action, too. But if I had to rethink about my retirement, I would still choose to retire early. I am glad that I am retired now because I have been able to do things meaningful and enjoyable in the last two years.

    Someone has said “I feel rich because I do not need much.” I too feel rich because I do not need much, and my husband takes me on vacations once in a while. :O)

    If one enjoys what one is doing and has a good work environment, one should stay as long as he/she wishes. American Civil Service does allow CS employees to work as long as they want if I remember correctly.

    • says

      Glad you retired early Suzan and have done some great things over the past two years! Also good to hear your husband is treating you well and going on good vacations :) Gotta live life to the fullest!

    • Kirsi L says


      great it has worked for you! I’ve heard many stories where the transition has not been so smooth – and then many who do love their choise.

      I could imagine my mother would love to retire early. She did have a sabbatical a few years ago. She’s a gardener, and guess what she did the entire sabbatical…cultivated her own garden. She won’t have trouble to fill her days in retirement.

      But there are other stories, too. My husband knows an elderly man who refereed football for years and travelled even aged 70 years about 100 days a year. Then one day FIFA announced that he should no longed do that as he’s way past the retirement age. Two years later, he does not know his own name. They literally took his life away.

      In the end, it is about having that feeling that you are living up to your potential, according to your values, and have a reason to wake up each day.

      • Suzan says

        Kirsi, It’s amazing that you knew what you wanted to do so early in your life. I am seeing, in my mind, someone with very clear vision, striving to live a life to its fullest! What a beautiful and encouraging scene for everyone else to see and to follow!

        I am sad for the football referee though. He would have been very happy if he were allowed to do what he had the passion for until he couldn’t do it anymore.

  12. says

    I think perhaps the problem here lies in the definition of “retirement”. I never understand this idea that if you’re not trading your life for money you’re somehow just sitting around twittling your thumbs or watching TV all day! Is the only persuit in life selling your soul for money? I haven’t had a “job” in years and I’m busier than I’ve ever been… but it’s all stuff I LOVE, and I’m able to make a much bigger contribution to society now than when I had to work 80 hours a week and was constantly exhausted.

    Perhaps it’s different in Europe where sanity prevails, but here in America, the schedule that most employers expect is just not sustainable for a normal human being. To me, no amount of money is worth the constant exhaustion that being employed required. Eventhough I really loved the organization that I worked for, it was a choice between having a job or having a life, and I chose life!

    I just think that once you can get to a point of financial security, you’re able to devote your time and energy to things that matter so much more than acquiring more stuff that you “need” because you’re too exhausted to do anything for yourself.

    Just my 2 cents.

    • Joe G says

      I agree with you Rebecca. I have put up with so many people that concept you stated about the only way to stay busy trading your life for money. I don’t get it I am really shaking my head at these people. There are so many things to do out there. Having the freedom to come and go and do what makes you happy is a problem???? No such thing??? unbelievable.

  13. Betty Ann says

    I just started working in my early 40s; (due to being a Stay at Home Mom after graduating college) and I’ll be 50 in April..

    I plan on working for as long as I can…and I’m not bored yet of working outside the house.

    I am rereading the book Your Money Or Your LIfe… and the authors retired early; but then did volunteer work; including donating all the money from that book and other work to charity.

    If you never read the book it is a KEEPER… it is by Joe Dominguez and Vickie Robins. It is about reaching Financial Independent to not have to work.. well, not have to work for MONEY.

  14. says

    Absolutely awesome post, Sam! Up until now, I never thought that early retirement had a dark side. I agree with you on all points, and I do think it’s selfish in a way.

    The number 1 reason I want to retire earlier is that I want my time “back” from the system! I want to spend the best years of my life they way I want – those are the years when the body & soul are in complete harmony, and you have all your human abilities at full power…(even if I had to spend all that time alone, but I doubt it)

    Having a lot of money when you are 30 and 60 makes big difference. What good would money be to me if my hair is white, my eyesight is weakening and so is the hearing …

  15. says

    At first thought, early retirement is not selfish if you have a family. I’m guessing most people want to build a big enough nest egg to take care and enjoy the world with their families. However, for those who don’t have familes, what’s wrong with seizing the day and living their lives to the fullest? On second thought, you do have a great point about parents slaving away… Two birds with one stone, retire early enough so you can treat your parents for the sacrifices they have made. Dunno if there is an ideal age. 50? Reach your potential, but still be healthy enough to enjoy your free time? When is the right time? I’m sure you’ll know… With a raging bull market, definitely less people will retire early. Most people are naturally greedy so of course they have to fully partake in the money grab! :)

  16. says

    For me, it was an achievement of a goal I set out at 31 years old. I knew I did not want to work for someone forever. At age thirty-eight, I was a full time entrepreneur. It was everything I thought it would be and more! Was it selfish? No, because my wife and I discussed it extensively before I took the leap. Our lifestyle actually improved, because I had more freedom. In many ways, late thirties is an ideal age for this kind of career change. Young enough to enjoy the opportunities that are available and energetic enough for the additional responsibilities. I thought I picked the perfect time to strike out on my own. Although I returned to the working world, I have no regrets. I was able to do what few have accomplished.

    Success in the market has little to do with a desire to be financial independent. A bull market may make it easier to retire or to become financially independent. That entrepreneurial spirit is there or it is not. It is what drives people to success.

    • says

      Good to hear about your entrepreneurial endeavors at 38. How long were you an entrepreneur for, and at what age did you return to the “working world”? Why did you return to the working world, and could you have retired and never work again at 45 or 50 years old?

      I agree about late 30’s, early 40’s even being a good time to strike it out on your own.

      Thanks for the insight.


      • says

        It was seven years later (45 yrs. old) when I returned to the working world. I returned because I was bored! I was not prepared for retirement and it was not stimulating enough for me. The income from my income property was sufficient to maintain a certain level of comfort. The business became a drain emotionally and financially. I ended up selling it all off and invested the proceeds in the stock market. I have no regrets!

        I am much more prepared emotionally and mentally to retire this time. I am preparing now starting this blog, starting volunteering, downsized home, children are grown and a much lower lifestyle. My income stream is fixed and guaranteed and my retirement savings will create a very comfortable standard of living. Truly passive earnings versus active earnings.

        • says

          Ah, I see! One of the fears I have of retiring early is boredom too.

          It’s interesting how you say you are more emotionally prepared this time. What is one or two things I should emotionally prepare for if I retire? I just wrote out a post for discussing how to decide when to retire. I didn’t know the answer until the very end… I love writing b/c of these self discoveries.

  17. says

    Your question gave me an idea for a post. I realized many people prepare for the financial side of retirement, but few prepare for the changes that occur naturally in retirement. It is already published as you read this. Thank you for your question and comments.

  18. says

    People wants to retire early so they will be able to enjoy life with no worries. There is nothing wrong about it. It is a normal human instinct. But you need to work for your retirement. You need enough money or even start with a good business early in your life.

  19. says

    I pretty much agree with all your points, Sam. I don’t think I will really retire one day. I mean, I might retire from a field or another, only to start a new project. I think the more passionate a person is, the more chances this person will work its entire life. Only the purpose of working will not necessarily be having money but instead achieving something to be proud of.

  20. says

    I think it is kind of selfish, but then again, what isnt? When people go on a diet, who are they really doing it for? Sometimes they say they want to be healthy because of their family or kids or whatever, but they may just want to get healthy so they can look and feel better about themselves.
    I also think that people who want to retire may not have found the right think to do yet. Like Do Not Wait, I dont know if I’ll ever “retire” in the sense that a lot of people think retirement means sitting around and playing bridge. I cant ever see myself doing that- I’d get too damn bored. Even though it may not pay well, (or pay at all) I’d still like to be doing something active. Right now, I just need to keep my health up so that I can transition to that later in life.

    • says

      Yeah, I get pretty damn bored too if I’m not creating something and making the most of the day. I do believe after 10 more years working though, I’d like to do everything 50% less as I’m sure I’ll burn out.

  21. says

    Let me know when you find that $80K/year hiking job, I’d be in! ;) As for retiring early, it’s not an option for me right now. I’m going to have to stick it out at least until 60, thankfully I like what I do.

    • says

      Nope, haven’t found that job that pays me to hike in the morning and get massages in the afternoon yet! One day though!

      Can you imagine if our blogs lasted for the next 20 years? We could easily retire from our blogs by then imo!

  22. says

    Retiring early may have its flaws but it has its privileges as well. It is a personal choice which should come with proper consideration of so many things. Be it financially, emotionally, psychologically and physically. What ever people may say, an article like this could only let you see what options and choices you have. You cannot box retirement to either good or bad.

  23. says

    I also run my own company and because of this, retiring early is not as big of a wish as it was when I worked for someone else.

    While I hope to not have to put in the same amount of hours as I do now, I think I will continue to contribute past my 40’s. Both my father and grandfathers worked way into their late 60’s, early 70’s, but this was because they enjoyed what they did.

    This is why I think your first point on not finding the right job is so important.

  24. says

    I’m glad you brought this back out, Sam. So here I am, off from work for two weeks now as I transition from my old city to another due to my job; I’m still getting paid and will still continue to get paid for the next two weeks that I will be off–a hefty amount if I may add.

    I have no other responsibilities other than the daily house chores and driving my son off to school every morning, and putting up with my annoying cat. But do you know what I do in between the time that my son is at school and then comes home? Things that I would much rather do than work, whether I enjoyed my job or not.

    What’s that? I need to purchase something from Wally world? I’ll just get it a 1pm when no one else is around. Oh what’s that, a tune up for my vehicle? No long weekend rush to get behind. etc. etc. Retirement is not about being bored. It’s about freedom of choice. Hell, traveling the world is only a bonus. When I eventually retire, with hopefully no children in the house, I’m going to sleep my ass off, wake up, watch Dr. Oz, blog, read, work-out, and blog some more.

    Retirement is what one makes it, it’s not necessarily about being “stupid rich.”

    • says

      I hope retirement will be everything you want it to be. KrantCents wrote an interesting post where he talked about not being emotionally ready the first go around. I thought that was quite insightful.

  25. says

    Great article. I have a question for you: How do you think sentiments about early retirement will change over the next couple of decades? When my generation is reaching retirement do you think people will still want to retire early even though there will be no social security payments?

    • says

      I’m pretty sure there will still be Social Security, just not 100% benefits that those are getting today. I think so long as people ate being productive in their early retirement, they have a chance of doing whatever they want.

      • says

        There is a trend between social security benefits and retirement. The average age of retirement is 62 and one could receive SS as early as 62. So i wonder what will happen if only partial benefits are being handed out.

  26. igotadose says

    Hello again, Sam.
    Personally, I’m intending to retire by 55, i.e, in the next few years (enough info there.)
    I am not counting on Social Security doing much for me by age 65 and I have saved carefully during my 30+ year career. Fortunately, there will be something available in 2014 for acquiring health care should I have trouble obtaining it through other channels.

    I think people must be prepared to be forced into retirement, or into the ‘part time/low paid/no continuity’ phase of their careers once they hit fifty. As I always harp on the fact that there are too many people competing for too many resources, including jobs, this should not come as a surprise. Older employees are edged out through many means, and companies know when you hit 50 your needs for medical care go up.

    So, my message is: “Early retirement is likely to not be a choice. Once you’re in your fifties, be prepared to lose your job and not be able to get one that provides as well for you going forward.” It’s what we’ve planned on for the last few decades.

    Also, I came across this really neat article that clearly expresses what’s going on in the USA in terms of income inequality. Basically, the current state of things is awful, D.C. is bought and paid, and most importantly, the trends are dreadful.

    take care, save your money.

    • says

      55 sounds like a great time to retire, but I have no idea really since I’m not there yet. Very good insight on “forced retirement” at 50. I believe that what you say probably does occur, even though it might to be overt. That really sounds like good advice. What is your age currently?

  27. says

    Well said .. from top to bottom.

    Is early retirement selfish?

    I used to want to do just that. In June 2002 I did just that, but went into business (co-owner w/father). Despite that working very well, and even not-so-well … I realized that I wanted to do something more. I probably would have needed to get back to work anyway. Money doesn’t grow in/on trees, unless you have the right fertilizer. Either way, it’s still work. My caste is not blue (as in blood).

    I agree with the “wishes” of early retirement you mentioned. But then … as I sat around for a year or 3 … spending money, not making it … I started wondering and asking myself questions. “Why?” “Why me?” Almost self pity when I look back. Looking at others who “did the dream” and it not working out so rosily (?) (rose-e-lee?), I saw people who lost self respect. Those who’ve never been there, can’t see it coming. Depression, self doubts, even worse (for some).

    I think everyone will work until they die. The key is to find/DO something that you love. Something that makes you want to do it everyday. Learn it inside and out. Be all you can be … only push yourself to be better. I found life to be a lot like the markets (financial markets) … utter chaos. But there are repeating patterns. meaning, you can make something out of nothing. You can change your mind. you can still retire from the RAT Race. Just stop racing around with rats. (Maybe you are in the wrong profession? .. is what comes to mind). One might reinvent themselves many times over the course of their life, including those years when others are saying, “I want to be retired, and not working at my job when I’m [that] age.” If this were the 1940’s – 1960’s and we were near that “early retirement age” as touted by so many … then yes, maybe you would collect a pension, have a second home in Venice Florida (or wherever). In the early 60’s I was still in elementary skool. :)

    If a person loves their work, why would they retire? (unless some health issue said, enjoy what you got left kiddo … or your parents left you a huge amount of money — $10million+ and you are 40+ now). Even then, you’ll still want to work, or find a way to get that money working .. which means you’ll be working. With or without that windfall, you’ll want to keep working … and (imo of course), they (anyone wishing early retire) just doesn’t know it yet.

    Boredom. I remember boredom. Sitting out around a pool, reading books from my favorite authors. Sleeping later. That got old quick, and my authors don’t write as fast as I read.

    Someone mentioned “forced retirement.” Maybe that was doing that person a favor? They can still go back to work, if they like. they can change the type of work they were doing. They can open up a taco stand and only work breakfast and lunch crowds. They can use their mind to keep “thinking” instead of going brain dead along with their health from stagnation. Retiring without money coming in … is just that. The balance sheet gets smaller, not larger.

    But, what if (a scenario), you started buying real estate or had enough dividends coming in to live off of? Anything that generated income, right? Or a business was generating money (you owned 2/burger kings making YOU $$80K?Yr. after everything else is paid? You see, you might be retired, but you are still working … and better yet, your money is working for you … even tho’ you are still managing it in whatever ways/means necessary. IMO (again), no one (in the normal so-called middle class range) will ever retire and just graze the golf course, like the uber-wealthy do. But … even they still work, managing their money. They just do it with aggressive abandon. They love to do it. There’s a payoff to it. And I’ll bet they don’t sleep until noon. Instead, they’re up early, reading the latest news, getting involved. Learning more. Some might call that “Work!” LOL. There’s always time to golf, or bowl, or sail, or surf the net, and even … do nothing at all. These people still work, just not for the same reasons most of the population does.

    I wish I had the formula for “make it easy for me .. ‘cause I want to be lazy from here on out!” Retiring early is not that easy. J Especially if one does something they really like to do. Go ahead, force me to retire …. I won’t stop trying to find “the next thing.” (sorry for the long post – maybe I could’ve condensed this some? The abridged version? Ha! Passionate topic for me as I’ve tried to retire early, but life, or God, or whatever it is, has a way of saying “not yet!”)

      • says

        I was 44 when I started to retire … from working for someone else. A distinct difference compared to just “stop working.”

        The industry I work in (O&G) is just “giving away” too much money right now to NOT be working and making premium $’s at this time. I can still manage trading (part time vs. fulltime). And despite the downturn in 2008, there is always money to make (alittle OT with that but …) and here’s something people can do their research into … and don’t wait too long … anything regarding natural resources, or comes out of the ground, is going to be the next bubble. And it’s got a way to go. Depite what Gold is doing, SIlver is has been the best bang for the buck. WHether it’s futures, miners, or you buy bars & rounds (I have #2 and #3, and for some time now). Selling portions at highs, buying back at lows (highs lows are based purely on technical data, NOT financials). Even tho’ I am now working, my money works for me, and I also do something I love and it pays quite well (at the job I;m working at now).

        Find a way to get your money working for you. Learn the markets, or learn everything there is to know about real estate, or what it takes to run a specialty business (restaurant, etc, etc.) … and once learned, yo have an edge-up on everyone else who just “works for money to pay their bills.” Married, Single, with or w/o kids … you can do it if it’s a burning enough desire. DOn’t expect miracles or overnight success’ … but expect changes in the way you see “things.” Especially in yourself and the way you view possibilities/probabilities. Everyone wants to retire early … but if the opportunities are there … don’t stop working. Instead, leverage what you know, have learned from past mistakes and success’ and make it work for you. If I knew what I knew now back in my 20’s? I would probably not know what to do with it. HA!

        Sam, your thoughts about why people want to retire early are very true. All of those and probably more… related to the same theme. As mentioned in post below, retire on your own terms. Just be wise and think ahead. Retire at 45, but living until 72+ yrs. old? Hopefully that person is a trust fund baby, otherwise it’s slim pickings. I do know some much older folks who work in grocery stores, WalMarts, etc… they are well set for retirement, but they just want to “be around people” and still have the health to be able to keep mobile.

        Sam, you asked, “How did I know it was the right time?” Truthfully, I didn’t. But took a chance (went into business w/Father @ 75/25% .. I do all the work, he spends all the money, and why that didn’t work out as planned, but another learning experience). What I learned was that despite wanting to retire and do something I loved, it’s still work to keep the money growing, and keeping a sane head doing it. I’m still not where I want to be from a retirement standpoint. Not like the unreal visions I originally had. I know I want to keep working, but doing something I enjoy doing (like now). P/T Trading (Swing, Core) and working fulltime is almost like having ones cake and eating it too. With great health benefits at that! I am not medicare age – not for awhile – but retiring early isn’t a good plan if you aren’t using (literally) someone elses benefit plan.

        It’s hard to understand the want to keep working … until one has been there, done that. One day … many will understand that in full detail. By then, hopefully it won’t be too late for them to change “their plan.” Happy Friday! Keep up the great work! >:

  28. says

    Not selfish at at, there are a lot of good things that can be done in retirement. Non-profit work, spending more time with the family, pursuing a dream, etc.

    I think people should retire before someone else tell them they have to. Do it on your own terms.

  29. Jennifer says

    This is such a thoughtful and interesting blog/thread. I found it by googling “early retirement good idea” because I have reason to hope I will be offered early retirement in about 4 months at age 55 (which is early by my standards though I know you are thinking of doing it much earlier), and I am looking for encouragement. In my organization I have been successful, promoted, etc. but do not learn much substantively any more, and when I am not learning I am not fulfilled – even though I am stressed by a ton of work, I feel bored. With many employers trying to get by with fewer people, I am sure many have reached a point when leaving is an act of self-preservation. I cannot wait to use my energy and intellect for things that interest me, like college courses and volunteer work (probably as a tutor). I would like to encourage you and others to make changes in your work life sooner rather than later if you are not happy. While it was necessary for me to work these years to amass what I need to retire, I wish I had done it somewhere else – by the time I hit 50, it would have made zero sense financially to leave because of a very good pension plan, so I stuck it out. But whether it is retirement or just a job switch at age 45, I’d say that’s a very good age to make a change if you can. As to whether it is selfish to retire young – I agree with those who say you are doing a good thing by creating an opportunity for someone else to work. Indeed, I think many twenty- and thirty-somethings probably wish we boomers would get out of the way. Good luck with whatever you decide.

    • says

      Hi Jennifer, welcome to Financial Samurai! Glad the search engine brought you here. I wouldn’t leave my job at 50, if I knew at 55 I had a juicy pension waiting for me either! I would just take all my vacations and then some every year until then.

      I think you will enjoy your retirement in 4 months. 55 is a great age to go explore and do whatever it is you want to do!

      All the best! Sam

  30. says

    Good points! I know someone who retired early in his 40’s, but became extremely bored within a couple of years. All of his friends still worked, so he really had no one to do anything with except for much older retirees.

    I agree with the saying – find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

  31. Ddd says

    Don’t forget a middle ground – working less… I just negotiated my own pay cut in exchange for more increase of vacation time from 5 to 7 weeks and ability to work from home or exotic locales. When I deduct the tax, it will only have about 7-8% impact on my take home pay, yet I get to enjoy the life and my job (which I love) even more.

    I will work to my grave and would come to work even if I won lottery (which I do not play), but I would not judge those who do retire early. If it makes them happy, and they are not living off social assistance, they should go for it. And, by the way, most of the mortals can make much bigger impact through unpaid work then their job. Take for example stay-at-home moms (and dads) or those volunteering to feed the hungry and heal the sick. They can make more difference in one year than I can managing my company for 30 years.

    My retirement goal is different – I want to save enough so that i do not have to work when I am 50 if I chose not to (for example if I get sick, or can’t find work I like etc).

  32. scrabbler1 says

    I found your list of “dangers” to be a lot of bunk. I retired in 2008 at age 45 and it was the BEST thing to happen to me in my life. I hated the commute, even 2 or 3 days a week, so I had to make that zero days a week. I will never change my mind.

    I won’t run out of money. All I have to do is make it to age 60 intact (12 more years now) when I can tap into the first of my “reinforcements” (Social Security, unfettered access to my IRA, company’sfrozen pension). I have health insurance and upped my car insurance limits last year.

    I have not lost touch with local friends and family. In fact, being retired has made it easier to get together with them with my added availability.

    Starting a family? I am childfree so I never wanted to have kids of my own. Your “What if you change your mind?” is an insult (“bingo”) to us childfree. Wold you ever ask a similar question to someone who wants to start a family? (“What if you change your mind and regret having thrown away your chance of an early retirement?)

    I have my volunteer work to keep me busy, activities I began when I was working part-time for 7 years and can now do more of it and do it more easily without that work “nuisance” getting in the way all the time.

      • Jim Lopez says

        So Sammy Samurai, you keep saying that you’re dying to retire at 45 but you’ve not said how old you are now??

        I’m curious, how old are you?

        I’m 47, work for a public school district, but I am not teaching, currently I am an Instructional Specialist so I get a tease every year of what it’s like to be retired, at least for the summer, anyway.

        I’ll admit that I get bored during August, and I want to go back and do something, but not go back work full time!! I’m blessed NOT to have the 2 most expensive personal items in the world: a wife, or children. Both are an incredible albatross around one’s neck and massive consumers of personal energy and resources!! instead I have boyfriend who has an executive position!!

        It really sucks when I’m driving along Kelly Drive to one of the schools I monitor, and I see some Hot guy having the luxury of logging serious miles cycling along the esplanade on the drive.

        It just seems do deliciously luxurious!!!

        One thing I have to mention, is why did you not include in your warning about early retirement to have one’s house paid off, or consider selling, and buying a duplex or triplex, to have passive income with no mortgage payment? Also selling car!! No insurance and No gas$$$ to pay!!

        I intend to retire around 51- 52. (basically 4 years) I’m willing to take a penalty in my State pension. My father got his first heart attack at 51 and totally bit the dust at 58, his father before him died at 43, and so on.

        So I figure I might last til about 66- maybe 68 if I am lucky. SO the sooner I can finish my Sentence, (Yes I consider working a Sentence like one would get for murder or something) the BEtter!!!

        As for giving back to the community or doing something great: guess what, it’s NOT all that great!!!
        My life with the School District has been working with the Poor!!! Poor people suck!!! I hate them!! They’re demanding and obnoxious!! I come from the working classes but I rose to achieve a master’s degree so I would consider myself part of the Intelligencia, now.

        Working class people at least know their place and know how to behave!! The poor should be forced to work to do something for their money!!

        I’m much more interested in dogs!! THEY are my charity!! They are at least appreciative of getting things for free!!

        • says

          Hi Jim,

          Thanks for stopping by. I’m 36 this year and decided to take a leap of faith and retire last Spring 2012! Pretty gutsy eh? Have a read of this post:

          I thought I would work until 40, but found the love of the internet as an X Factor which allowed me to accelerate my early retirement by 6 years. This post on the Dark Side of Early Retirement is my post to make sure I’m not missing anything BEFORE I made my decision.

          Here is a 1 year old passive income report which shows what I live off. I’ll be updating the post shortly. Take a look:

          Spend time reading my archives. All your answers will be found!

          Cheers, Sam

        • Chris says

          Way late here, but nobody else has said it. Women aren’t all bad! Poor people aren’t all bad! Turns out both are just people! I know a lot of rich, male jerks myself.

          My wife is awesome and at least as thrifty as me. We are achieving FI together (right about now actually) and both enjoy our careers and plan to keep working in some reduced capacity. We’re both early 30s.

  33. Banjo Steve says

    What an amazingly negative article. Full of extreme of the old Protestant ethic” system of shoulds and shouldn’ts. And so wrong on all of the over-generalized points.

    I’m in my third year of retirement after 40 years of teaching. Gave it all I had – left because I could and was burned out from “realizing my potential”. Have enough (diversified) savings that i can live off of interest if need be (haven’t started collecting SS yet).

    Most friends (of which I still have a rich network) are impressed with how much younger my stress-diminished Me is.

    And this family issue? Who is likely (maybe a few rare ones) to retire so early as to make child-bearing an issue? Me? My wife and I are totally savoring the extra time we have with grandchildren.

    It sounds like the writer is just a cynical, over-opiniated young’un who is glad to knock something before trying it. What a sad approach to life, whether you are retired or not.

    • says

      I think the writer is just pointing out that not everybody can be successful and achieve their full potential, so it’s OK to give up early. I wouldnt worry about it so much.

  34. Montrose says

    My position was eliminated two years ago (must have been a sub-optimal performer). Spent about a week looking over my financial situation and decided that at 55 I didn’t need to work anymore (divorced, no kids). I’ve looked for work, but I haven’t found anything I’m really excited about. The thing I’ve found is that people don’t really care what you do or don’t do for a living. Get over yourself. I’ve had a wonderful time. I eat healthier, get more exercise, more rest, feel much better and more relaxed. I’ve spent real quality time with my family, friends and hobbies. I’ve met a wonderful woman and fallen in love. I wouldn’t go back to my old job (stress, two hour commute) for anything and am thankful that I was given this opportunity. Maybe I’ll go back to some kind of work some day. It would have to be something really interesting though. I just don’t need the money – and that is a very nice feeling.

    • says

      Montrose, I’m glad getting eliminated 2 years ago helped you see the light! Congrats on your retirement. If you’ve got the money, you’re 55, and the average life expectancy is 79, then by all means, stop working and doing something else.


  35. Jan says

    Feeling a bit pessimistic these days? Ready to go back to working a 60 hour week and feeling you need to justify it to yourself?
    I am retired and enjoying it. We chose to retire–although not that early 53 and 60. We find ways to continue to add to the world- like taking care of our family while everyone else is too busy working. See- we don’t believe in nursing homes.
    Since my mother never worked outside the house and is still kicking at 81 and his father and grandfather both retired at 60 and 58 and lived well into their 90’s….I think it will be ok. You can check on us around 2030. We will still, probably, be eating homegrown tomatoes and fishing on the lake!

  36. Retired at 43 says

    Nope, sorry. You seem to be defining early retirement as lounging in a hammock. Early retirement for me and my spouse meant financial independence and financial freedom. Free to do whatever we wanted without worrying about money. Our desire for freedom and options didn’t make your list. Time is precious though, so I’d cosign #5.

    Regarding the dangers of early retirement, re: “oops, you change your mind”, we were self-employed so that doesn’t affect us. If we change our mind, we can simply rehire ourselves and go back into business. The great thing about being self-employed, besides being the easiest way to amass wealth: Your boss loves you.

    “Lose touch with friends and family”? Seriously? Because they’re busy living their own lives no matter what *you* are up to. And if you’re retired, you have the time to make plans, cook meals, make a home where friends and family love to gather. It enhances your social life, no doubt about it. There is *more* time to be with the ones you love.

    Raising children too expensive as early retirees? Nope. We have two children and we retired in our 40s.

    “You’ll lose your self-respect and the respect of others”? Ha ha. Nope. Here’s a nugget of wisdom for you: Doing so well with your finances that you can retire early is actually a boost to your self-esteem. Being able to then turn your mind toward tackling the things that really, truly matter to you? Boost. Having time to learn? Boost. Having time to contribute to society? Boost. As far as the respect of others, again I think you must be imagining a guy in a hammock with a scruff of beard who just swills beer all day, but as far as *myself*, I lead a life that is respected by my children and my loved ones, and those are the only opinions that matter to me. As far as the guy who thinks I should be sweating it in a 9-to-5 job instead of following my dreams, I don’t respect him, so the feeling is mutual.

    As far as early retirement being selfish, that’s ridiculous. If you work because you want to work, are you selfish? Are the only unselfish people the ones who are forced onto a path that they don’t want to be on? I retired early because I succeeded — at my business and at managing my personal finances. I now invest my time in my family, in learning, in doing, in creating, and in contributing to society. Is that selfish?

  37. says

    Early retirement or financial independence means more choices! Not being tied to a paycheck is a nice feeling. If you are running away from a crummy career or job, it will always be a bad decision. If your focus is truly on yourself, it is selfish. Goals should be formed in everyone involved because it affects everyone.
    The ideal age for retirement is around forty because you are young enough to still enjoy that freedom. Who wants to wait until a more standard retirement age when you are in your late sixties.
    The bull market may make more people financially independent because it raises wealth and encourages IPOs.

  38. Mark says

    Sounds like you’re jealous. I retired at 34 and am 39 now. I do not live on a shoestring budget. In fact I bought my dream car, a Lamborghini LP560, this year. It was my present for driving crap cars most of my life. I don’t “justify” to others why early retirement is great — I don’t need to. I don’t tell everyone how great my life is, either, because I don’t try to make people feel bad. I find it’s the other way around: people who have a 9-5 job they don’t like are the ones who tell me how they don’t want to retire because they’d be bored, and how they prefer their life over mine. Give me a break. Their jealousy is too obvious.

  39. freebird says

    These days with so many people not getting enough hours or advancement, I wonder whether not retiring early when you can afford to may be the more selfish option? So while I believe most people do look out for number one, I don’t believe that early retirement is intrinsically selfish. Folks who keep themselves out of the applicant pool in order to give others a chance to earn a decent living may be the heroes.

    I don’t think there’s an ideal age for retirement from a particular job, but I do believe there is a right time for it to happen, and that’s when one loses interest in doing it well. Simply marking time I think is a mistake for both you and for your employer. I would agree that when the job market heats back up that early retirement will become less appealing– mainly because more job openings means a greater likelihood of finding that perfect fit in work/life balance. Many of today’s early retirees don’t want to settle for a poor fit, and when the market recovers they won’t have to.

  40. BK says

    I think this is an excellent article with many well made points. I appreciate that you were willing to take an opposing view and provide a different perspective. Satisfaction and identity is often derived from doing productive, fulfilling work, and I concur that early retirement is oftentimes not the right solution towards achieving personal fulfillment. Having given up a career to raise children, I often crave and desire defining myself outside of the home. Being able to do intellectually stimulating work and meaningfully contribute to society is now what I want. A sense of self respect and identity I believe comes from doing work that benefits others beyond oneself. Many people who don’t have this do suffer from a lack of purpose or hopelessness. I also think one of the contributing problems is that many are stuck in dead-end jobs. However, those who quit early may never find their potential or fulfill their true calling in life. Thank you for a well written article and presenting many excellent points.

  41. Eve says

    I believe that all the previous comments have been harsh to the writer as I understand his objective in writing this article. Of course the people that are retired and live a great life are going to get insulted but what you haven’t realized is that this article is not intended for you or to insult you. This article is for people like myself, I am 19 years old and analyzing my financial options to endure a great lifestyle. As I was thinking, yes you can retire early if you definitely hate working or you just feel that you have given it all you have and are tired of it and have no need to continue working because you have made enough money in the years you have worked. Now, for those like myself that are starting out, all you read about in other websites is how amazing it is to retire early and live an extremely frugal life. Honestly who wants to live so frugal? What’s the point of retiring early if you can not enjoy a luxurious vacation if you wanted to or buy yourself a condo by the beach, or even if you can…. You have nothing coming in, the consumerism guilt is in the back of your mind, the subtraction to your savings for retirement. Not the.. “Its ok, I can purchase it because there’s still money flowing in.” Every one likes nice things, and like the writer said, what if you have a sudden inconvenience that you never expected. As in my short years I have realized, as I am a very honest individual. No one likes the truth, they like to be told that every thing will be ok, that every thing will go as planned and if it does not there will be a way. That is true there is always a way but I am a realist there is a big difference between being realistic and being a pessimist. I think as adults we all know that, like an old friend taught me ” You need to be able to have a professional conversation with out showing emotion even when the topic is about emotions.” If it is going fabulous for you, amazing…. But no need to insult the writer who is a realistic individual trying to warn those young ones of a promised land. As a dollar today does not equal the same as a dollar in the 1800’s don’t we all agree? Who knows how inflation may be 15 years from now……. Good luck, love, and respect to the now retired readers. :)

    • Steven says

      If you are really 19 then good for you. Getting the gist of the OP’s intent is beyond what most of the early retierees seem to have been able to do. And the biggest obvious oversight on their part is thinking that their “well laid plans” will remain stable. Yep; the dollar of the 1880s is worth about 1/60th of what it is today.Heck; its one tenth of what it was worth when I was in high school, and Im not all that old… Low inflation never lasts, and when inflation does hit it takes down the vast majority of those who placed all confidence in “the system”. The Tulip Bubble of the 1600s, the post civil war inflation decade, the panic of 1893, the post WW1 inflation, the fun times of the 30’s, the post WW2 inflation and the post Viet Nam inflation. These cycles are inevitable even in the best and most stable economies. It’s normal. And the results decimate peoples savings, and their lives. The current gen’s experience of the go-go years of wealth creation resulting from new businesses such as, cell-phone, internet and all its spinoffs, the personal computer and all its spinoffs, and then came along the ill-fated home price run-up decade and it’s unbelievable shock to the county and world. Well, it all added up to a very long growth period that is only recently came to its inevitable end. I’m afraid this 19 year old seems to better understand the inevitable problems that many of todays early retierees will face once thier safe and secure “investments” begin to pay far less each month than they ever imagined. It’s going to be a big shock. Over time this dimished income will be inevitable for 3/4ths of them. And only with careful and prudent planning will a handful of retierees be prepared for the inevitable etching away at what they were so sure was going to be a hefty monthly income.
      When in college I thought id never be able to buy a decent hoe. Then I was worried that we would ever get our home paid off, now we get rent from that house, and a couple more, every month and we’ve never had an empty month in 18 years. The freedom that paidoff rentals gives, what with rising rents (over time) in homes in desireable areas of cities that have been able to retain low unemployment levels. All my friends with paper investments brag about their ROIs, but when the stockmarket drops they stop bragging and my modest rents still keep chugging away. And guess who has a smile on his face at that point? Good luck to all of us, over time who knows who will really be safe. And whoever is 100% sure in his or her decisions, is invariably wrong anyway. But its sure fun to sit back and watch, isn’t it?

  42. 20's finances says

    Two points that I want to highlight. I agree with you about the fact that an early retirement plan is a great way to keep you focused. Secondly, most of the time, early retirement is selfish, but it doesn’t have to be. I don’t just want to sit around my entire life. Instead I want to use my time to make a difference. My early retirement plan isn’t the traditional plan as well, since i will still be working 3 days per week; but I’ll be working for myself too.

  43. Jeff says

    The question of selfishness is dependent on your reason for retiring. There are many good reasons and many selfish reasons to retire.

  44. Shelley says

    I have been thinking about retireing for a couple years now. My husband who is 9 years my senior retired four years ago. I have worked with the federal government for 32 years (2% pension for each year worked 64%) and would have a 15% penalty in my pension (5% for each year age is less than 55) should I retire now at age 52. The age for retirement with no penalty for me would be 55. I have been struggling with whether or not it is worth the 15% loss.
    My 17 year old daughter recently gave birth to our adorable granddaughter who are both financially dependant on us. My 91 year old soon to be 92 year old father-in-law has come to live with us. He is financially independant.
    I do not have any interest in my job any more and find it physically sickening everyday I have to be there. It is a time of cutbacks and reductions for the current government and the stress for all employees is noticeable in the office. Our mandate is no longer the same and everyone is feeling the stress of the unknown.
    I do have alot that would keep me busy if I did retire even if they are not the things I would like to choose to do. I would like to care for children who cannot care for themselves and I would like to be able to help make a day brighter for someone even if that only means reading the daily paper to someone who can no longer do that.
    I have to say that life is very short, It goes by very fast, you may not have your health physically or emotionally if you wait. All of these things keep me thinking everyday. Yet, I have not retired. Hopefully for me, it will happpen soon!
    Thanks for listening, I feel better having vented.

    • says

      Hi Shelley, first off I think it is VERY admirable that you’ve stuck with your job for 32 years! I know I could not do that.

      Secondly, you’ve got a pension, that is better than most people. The average life expectancy is around 80 for women. What will you do for the rest of your life?

      I’d take the leap of faith.

  45. says

    Glad you enjoyed the post John. Never heard of “feel like I’m being used as a large social experiment” before as a reason to get out!

    So long as I like my colleagues and bosses, I’m happy to work. Once you start working due to the work, and not for the money, it is very liberating.

  46. jmas says

    Interesting post…

    Is the purpose of education solely to support a work effort/career? Maybe I’m the oddball, but I enjoyed learning a great deal, and a majority of my education applies to life in general more than my work.

    As for “full potential”, we all have potential in different areas, work being only one. Less time at the office might allow me to achieve my full potential as a citizen, giving back or providing value for my community/world.

    • says

      Why not do both, provide value to your community and to your work? What’s the point of spending all that time and money to go to college to only stop working shortly thereafter? If that’s the case, best to just work from 18, or go to cheaper alternatives that provide just as good opportunities no?

      • Jim Lopez says

        Sammy Samurai,

        you really do have a very narrow vision of the value of education!!

        I’m saying this as a Teacher. You need to read Aristotle, Plato, and Sophocles

        You need to read Locke, and Rousseau!!

        and as this is NOT a class and there will be no grade, I doubt you’ll do it, but it really is a disgrace, that you are so ignorant that you think education is only for work!!!

        ALso, The issue of selfishness is about as relevant to whether or not to retire early as it is to be indignant that the sun does not ask our permission to rise every morning!!! It’s ridiculous quite frankly, and TOTALLY irrelevant!!

        One simply retires when one can!! One only works because one must to begin with!!

        The rich of old looked down on peasants who worked!!

        Have you never watched Downton Abbey!??? The true aristocracy doesn’t work!! They are SERVED!! They are the MASTERS!!!

        Perhaps a little time spent with history books would do you some good!!

  47. pcash80 says

    There’s really no such thing as retirement. You stop working, but you will always be relying on income streams (passive or otherwise). When you “retire” from your job, all you are doing is cutting off one income stream, and relying more heavily on others. The more you have, the more selective you can be. That’s how I view things. At some point, I hope to have enough streams that I can cut one off and rely on others, allowing me to adjust how I spend my time without affecting my material/personal well being. I would never say that I’m “retired”. That just sounds like being bed-ridden in a nursing home.

  48. pcash80 says

    When we have multiple income streams, we are allowed the freedom to spend our time as we see fit (to the extents that our streams allow us). I make the decision to stop working at my regular day job, because it truly does interfere with something I really want to do. Would I feel regret about doing this later on? Of course. Just as you may or may not feel regret about many other things in life (kids, marriage, not doing study abroad etc.). But it is not something to fear. The whole point is that multiple income streams allow you the chance to try this without any serious ramifications (other than regret). Just pick up hobby, or start volunteering. There are plenty of avenues to find fulfillment. Most people will never have the luxury to explore this, so be grateful.

  49. says

    Very interesting post.
    I started a little blog in downshifting and the like some weeks ago.
    and I share the view here, that early retirement is maybe not the silver bullet. I think working can be interesting and even some fun, *if* you don’t have to work too much.
    So I think a kind of middle-way is the best you can do: Reduce your working time here and now, reduce stress and maximize free time, but don’t aim to retire at 40.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *