The #1 benefit of retiring early is better health. I didn't really expect this until I retired early myself and experienced much improved health.
Right before I left work in 2012, I was starting to sprout grey hairs. I thought uh oh, the dam had finally broken and all my grey hairs would start coming in at once. I was 34 years old, a reasonable age to start greying. Yet, I realized I finally felt old.
I also suffered from TMJ (pain and tightness in my jaw). It got so bad that I went to a dentist who filed down some of my molars so my jaw could close more easily and provide relief.
Better Health: Benefit Of Retiring Early
About 6 months after I negotiated a severance (please never quit, get laid off instead), my TMJ pain went away. Then about one year later, I noticed I had stopped sprouting grey hairs!
I’m 44 now and I still don’t have a single grey hair, nor do I have any wrinkles around my eyes that I thought I’d finally start getting as well.
I was just at a wedding party and introduced myself to two William & Mary graduates who were married. I’m an alum, and it is rare to see other W&M alum in the SF Bay Area.
I asked the woman, who is a White House correspondent for CBS, what year she graduated since I told her I was an alum too. She responded, “Oh, my husband and I graduated way before you. We’re dinosaurs. 2004!”
Hilarious! Since I was a 1999 graduate. You might think this is another one of those fake “I look so young stories,” which it does sound like, especially since I don’t post a picture. You might think the woman was simply a poor judge of age. Possibly. But she is Asian and is used to the same thing of people thinking she looks younger than she really is. And when she told her husband, he was surprised too.
OK, enough with the bragging.
You cannot put a price on health. Health is everything. Think back to the last time you were so sick. You would have given everything to feel better again.
Other Great Benefits Of Retiring Early
In addition to the huge improved health benefit of retiring early, there are even more positives. Here are just a few examples.
Discover your passion. Having free time when you are still relatively young is better than having those same hours when you are older. Think about the ability to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu or climb the steps of Santorini while young. You can do so many great things like travel, play music, and do something entrepreneurial if you retire early.
Save more and make more. Many retirees don’t spend as much as they used to because they have more time to look for good deals. Think early bird specials. You can simply wait for something you want to go on sale. You can also save on many events and attractions if you go during non-peak hours, which is easy to do once you no longer work. The same strategy works for travel. The fact that you can travel off-season will save you a significant chunk of change.
Find other early retirees who share a common interest. It’s wonderful to play tennis at 11am on a Wednesday morning instead of when the crowd gets off work at 5:30pm. You will naturally find new and interesting people you never knew existed.
Develop new income streams. Even if you no longer want to work at your current job, you might find other activities that end up making you money. For example, I’m a high school tennis coach for four months a year and make $1,100/month. I also like to write about personal finance here on Financial Samurai.
Not a day goes by where I'm not thankful I retired early. Yes, it was tough to give up lots of money during my prime years. But I used my 30s to travel the world, build up Financial Samurai, and sneak in a child right before turning 40!
Life goes by so quick, you will not regret retiring early if you got your finances in order and have the discipline to live on less. Having freedom is truly priceless.
Related: Investment Amounts By Age In Order To Comfortably Retire Early
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