Many people put off retirement because they have to. They lack the money needed to stop working.
If, however, you can honestly afford the retirement you want, then it might be worth retiring as young as you can. That can mean different things to different people. For example, you may do volunteer work, or enter a profession you love that was not as lucrative as whatever you did during your working years.
Of course, if you have made all the right moves and have enough in your retirement portfolio, it’s OK to just stop working, put your feet up, and relax. You don’t have to retire just because you can afford to — but you may want to, for these reasons.
1. You never know how long you have
You may be youngish and healthy, but disaster can strike. It’s possible that at 60 you have 30 great years ahead of you, or you could get hit by a bus or struck down by a fatal illness, or pass away in some other unfortunate way.
If you have things you want to do during your retirement years, it may be best to not put off retiring. Of course, if you live longer than you expected, you may find that your plan to play a lot of golf or read more may not fill up all the hours available. If that happens, well, you might consider going back to work part-time or finding a meaningful way to fill your days, like volunteering.
2. Health is not guaranteed
In her retirement years, my mother has taken up dancing. She loves it and has made a community of friends through participating. For the past few months, however, she has been sidelined by knee and foot problems. That has kept her away from something she loves doing, and it has shown me that maybe you can’t do what you love forever.
You may retire so you can golf, play tennis, or do more downhill skiing. Remember that an injury — or just getting older — may someday limit those activities.
3. Because not working is better than working
Many people work because they need to make money. Some may like their jobs, but the work you do may not be something you enjoy more than doing whatever you want.
If you have made the money you need to retire, that means you can stop working. For some people, that alone may be a good enough reason to head into retirement.
Each decision is personal
I truly love what I do and will probably never retire. Someday, I’ll likely do less work and be pickier about what I’m willing to do, but I can’t imagine not working.
Your decision, however, does not have to match mine. Retiring as soon as you can, working as long as you can, or some happy in-between is something each person can decide based on his or her wishes as well as his or her financial situation.
The important thing is to make sure you save enough to have choices. Social Security won’t meet your retirement needs on its own (not even close in most cases), and working longer will max those benefits (though you can retire and claim later to do the same thing).
Know your own needs, goals, and finances. Once you understand those you can make the best retirement decision for you.
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