For some, early retirement may seem like an easy choice. Countless Americans happily step out of the office and onto the golf course the day after they turn 62. But for many others who find fulfillment and purpose in their work, even the suggestion of retiring one day is out of the question.
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Of course, some people may not be able to afford to leave the workforce early — especially as rising costs have made it difficult for them to imagine living without a regular paycheck coming in. In fact, for some of the nearly 1.5 million retirees who re-entered the U.S. workforce in 2021, rising costs and issues staying afloat financially on a fixed income were the key drivers in their decisions to return to work after calling it quits.
But if money isn't holding you back, early retirement might be a viable — and attractive — solution for American workers whose priorities are shifting as they age. Remember though: Whether you choose to stick it out, or leave the labor market early, the choice should always be yours. Here are five reasons to consider finally taking the plunge into early retirement.
As we age, our health declines. This can be a strong incentive to retire early, especially if you're experiencing have significant health conditions that will only worsen as you age. Depending on what you do, working may simply be too much to keep up with if you're in poor health. This is actually a common concern for older workers. One study by the National Institute on Aging found poor health is one of the top reasons many Americans choose to retire early.
If you go this route though, it’s important to ensure you have enough money set aside to help you manage your health in the future. Without your work's health benefits, you’ll have to have something else set up to help you cover prescription costs and potential surgeries. Enrolling in a Health Savings Account (HSA) is a good option to consider.
Stress comes with the territory of being a working professional, but it could be harming you more than you think. According to the American Psychological Association, those exposed to chronically stressful environments — like working in high-pressure environments — can experience burnout.
What does burnout feel like? Exhaustion, feeling negative or cynical and being less productive at work.
This may be a larger risk for some, depending on your field of work. For example, teachers and health care workers are at an even higher risk of developing burnout.
If this sounds all too familiar, it might be time to step away. Your health, both physical and mental, is more important than any job. You might even decide to retire early from your current profession to step into a less stressful part-time job. Whatever you decide, if your job is causing more stress than you can handle, early retirement may be the right path for you.
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Many Americans who are nearing retirement may also be dealing with parents who are entering their end-of-life stage. Nearly 40% of those currently in the workforce are either serving as caregivers right now, or have in the past, says a survey by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. This could be an important factor to consider if you’re on the fence about retiring early.
Caregiving responsibilities extend beyond aging parents, too. Maybe you have a spouse with complex medical needs, an ill family member or even a grandchild who needs babysitting. Whatever the case may be, supporting your family may take precedence over staying on the job at some point.
Your spouse earns enough for you both
Why work when you don’t have to? Especially if you have (or expect to have) any of the concerns above. If you have a partner with a substantial enough income to support you both, consider leaving your job behind and starting your retirement early.
Just make sure you’ve reached your full age of retirement, as outlined by the Social Security Administration. That way, you’ll get your maximum retirement benefits instead of the reduced amounts you’d get if you chose to retire before then. Your full retirement age could be 66 or 67 depending on the year you were born, so it’s important to know this information before committing to an early retirement and potentially losing out on your full benefit amounts.
Have you ever missed out on an event, trip or important family event because of work? Or maybe felt that you were more irritated with your partner, spouse or child because of work stress? You’re not alone. According to the American Institute of Stress, more than 75% of American workers say job stress affects their personal relationships.
If you feel like your job has taken over your life and you’re struggling to keep up with your duties as a partner or parent, it might be time to consider leaving the workforce for good. It’s important to remember that you only get one shot at this life thing, so if your work-life balance scales lean 99% to the work side, it might be time to kick work off the scales entirely.
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This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.