Countless workers dream of retiring early and reaping the benefits that come with it. But many folks don't pursue that objective, either because they're too scared to take the leap or are worried that they're not financially ready. Both are valid lines of thinking, but the problem is that the longer you wait to retire, the longer you'll miss out on the lifestyle you really want. If you've been on the fence about early retirement, here are a few good reasons to take the plunge.
1. You've earned it
Americans certainly aren't strangers to hard work. Collectively, we tend to forgo vacation time, put in long hours, and sacrifice our work-life balance to prove our worthiness on the job. If that's been your routine for the past, say, 40 years, and your savings will suffice in allowing you to pay the bills, then it's about time for you to call it quits.
Now most seniors are told that they can safely expect to withdraw 4% of their retirement savings each year and not risk running out of money. If you're retiring earlier than the average senior, however, then you'll need to adjust that withdrawal rate downward. But if your nest egg is healthy enough, that may not be a problem.
Imagine you're looking at a $2 million nest egg. If we apply a fairly conservative 2% annual withdrawal rate, you'd start out with $40,000 of income. Now, that alone may not be enough to live on, but if you're married and both you and your spouse can start collecting Social Security, that might add another $40,000 to the pot. Suddenly, you're looking at $80,000, and that changes the picture tremendously. Furthermore, if you have another source of income, like a rental property or side business you plan to pursue, then you have even less to worry about moneywise.
Of course, not everybody is in a solid financial position to retire early. But if you've done a good job of saving, then frankly, you've earned the right to leave the workforce ahead of schedule. And you shouldn't feel guilty about that in the slightest.
2. Your job may be harming your health
Though studies have shown that retirement increases the risk of suffering from depression, working full-time might harm your health in other ways. If you have an office job, being sedentary for the bulk of the day could put you at risk for musculoskeletal disorders, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, to name a few.
Furthermore, the majority of U.S. workers today don't get an adequate amount of sleep, which, over time, can increase your risk of early mortality. And if your job stresses you out more often than not, you could increase your chances of heart disease, anxiety, and, yes, depression.
Now if you happen to love your job and find that it serves as an outlet for being active, then that's reason enough to stay. But if you're among the 52% of Americans who identify as being unhappy at work, you may want to make your exit sooner rather than later.
3. The future is unknown
The average 65-year-old man today will live until 84.3, while the average 65-year-old woman will live until 86.6. But will you make it to your mid-80s or beyond? Maybe. The fact of the matter is that you just don't know, and that's reason enough to retire as soon as you're able. Even if your health is great at present, it's impossible to say when things might start to deteriorate. Heck, you could walk out the door tomorrow and get hit by a bus, and suddenly, there go your retirement plans.
Of course, this isn't to say that you should be scared to leave the house, and looking both ways before venturing out into the road will reduce your risk of the aforementioned scenario. The point, however, is that none of us have a crystal ball to tell us how much time we have left on this planet, so if retirement is something you've been eager to experience for a long time, you might as well go for it.
Though early retirement isn't for everyone, if it's something you want, then march into your manager's office, submit your two weeks' notice, and get ready to pursue the lifestyle you deserve. Chances are, it'll end up being the best decision you ever make in your lifetime.