What does early retirement look like to you? For some people, it means leaving the workforce in their early 60s. For others, it's closing out their careers in their early 50s. No matter what specific scenario you have in mind, there's much to be said about retiring early, and here are three reasons to make that a chief goal.
1. You don't know how long you'll live
Americans on the whole are living longer these days. The Social Security Administration reports that a man turning 65 today will live, on average, until 84. For a 65-year-old woman, that estimate climbs to 86 1/2. Meanwhile, about 33% of 65-year-olds today will live past the age of 90, and one in seven will live past 95.
But these are just averages, and unfortunately, many seniors wind up passing away well before their 80s. If your health isn't great, or you have a family history of dying young, then you may not live as long as the typical American. Which means that if you want time to enjoy retirement, you may need to start it a few years early.
2. You don't enjoy the work you do
Maybe your job requires you to work long hours, or spend your days focusing on tasks that frustrate or bore you. It's one thing to switch careers in your 30s or 40s, when you still have time to grow professionally. But if you're already in your 50s or early 60s and are miserable at work, it may be time to call it quits. The unfortunate reality is that getting hired at a later age is easier said than done, so even if you are willing to change careers and start at the bottom, it may not work out the way you'd like it to.
That said, there's no reason you can't retire early from an industry you hate, and then start a business you're passionate about. If you're the creative type, start a jewelry-making venture; if you love animals, start a dog-walking service. You have plenty of options, and retiring early could make it possible for you to spend your days doing something you love, as opposed to something you hate.
3. You can easily afford to stop working
Maybe you don't hate your job, and you don't have a reason to believe you'll pass away relatively young. If you have a healthy amount of retirement savings, you may want to retire early simply because you can -- and that's OK.
Sure, working longer might enable you to bank even more money, and there's really no such thing as having too much. But if you're in a place where your nest egg will more than suffice in covering your living expenses, then you shouldn't feel guilty about not saving more. You've worked hard for the money you already have saved, and if leaving the workforce a bit ahead of schedule makes it possible for you to enjoy your savings a little more, why not go for it?
Early retirement isn't for everyone. If you don't have enough money saved to comfortably pay your bills, or you're the type who thrives on structure and gets bored very easily, then it may not be a smart choice. But if any of the above situations apply to you, it pays to consider making that exit and living your life the way you want to.