Retirement is the dream for many. But some people have discovered the hard way that there’s such a thing as retiring too early.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Broken Relationships
You might lose friends and have a resentful still-working spouse, says a retired senior consultant about a harsh reality of retiring early, citing jealousy as the reason. From their personal experience, “at least 1/2 of the marriages I know broke up over this issue for early retirees.”
2: Tight Finances
Unless one has a guaranteed pension or retired ultra-rich, early retirement for many comes with a constant awareness that money could run out. An early retiree warns, “You are going to have to hustle to watch your money.”
3: A Motivation
A person who self-describes them as having retired “WAY too early” says one of the hardest things for them was finding “motivation to GET out of bed every day.” They encourage those contemplating early retirement to envision the value and/or challenges of not having a job and to find something else in their life to motivate them.
4: Redefining Yourself
The same too-early-retiree implores people to be comfortable “walking away from much of what DEFINED you as a person” and as a member of society. They recommend redefining your relationship with life before biting the retirement bullet.
5: Not Vacation
Retirement doesn’t equate to endless vacation for the rest of your life, according to a former mechanical engineer who retired at age 55. ” In retirement, you have a different relationship with time. Vacations are usually time-limited and you are aware of this while on vacation. The realization that you are not going back to work is something you can’t prepare for until you are retired.”
6: Words of Wisdom
According to the same engineer, people preparing for an early retirement “should retire to something” instead of just retiring from something (work). Life doesn’t end after work, especially for those leaving the office young. “You have to know what you want to do with yourself and your life.”
7: Overachiever Dungeon
If you’re an overachiever who wants to retire early, you might want to consider getting a different job rather than retiring altogether. An overachieving surgeon recalls that after retiring at 56 and golfing, boating, and drinking beer to appease their boredom, they ended up getting their MBA and embarking on a new career in public health.
8: What You Love
A person who retired at 50 and has been enjoying their early retirement the past years says that, from their perspective, one of the harshest realities of retiring early is “if you love your job and/or dislike spending time with your family,” both of which can cause retirement resentment. They encourage job lovers who aren’t sure about retiring to stay with their jobs and anyone who dislikes their family to see a therapist for support.
9: Off the Pedestal
If you had an upper-level management or consultant job, it could be a rude awakening for some early retirees to no longer be the go-to person for advice. “People won’t readily reach out for your advice or input as they once did,” says an early retiree in the know.
The Flip Side
Of course, retiring early isn’t all doom and gloom; some people love it as much as they expected to. “I can do anything I want, anytime I want, with no alarm clock,” says a retired electronics/communications tech worker. ” I wouldn’t trade it for any amount of money, and I’ll say that it takes less money to retire than you think.”
A former assistant director echos the sentiment of early retirement being great. “They don’t tell you it takes a while before you stop waking up at 6 am” and “They don’t tell you you won’t have dreams about being late for work anymore” are two of the many fantastic realities about retiring early that this person lists.
Do It Young
A person who retired at 68 years old says they can teach people a thing or two about what no one says about retiring too late in life. They don’t tell you “that you’re too late to whitewater [raft] rivers or climb mountains or any of the multitude of things you’d always secretly hoped to do in retirement.” Equally as bad, they don’t tell you “that within five years of retiring at 68, you’ll spend more time and money in doctor’s offices than in all the rest of your years put together.”
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