If you've been dreaming about retirement for decades, you might be itching to retire as soon as you can. And in some scenarios, retiring as early as possible could be a fantastic decision.
Early retirement isn't necessarily for everyone, and there are some cases in which delaying retirement by a few years might be the best route. For example, if you have zero savings and are creeping up on retirement age, working a few more years to build a stronger nest egg might be a good choice. However, if you can afford it, an early retirement might be a smart move for a few reasons.
1. You can better enjoy retirement when you're young and healthy
If you have big plans for retirement, it might be a good idea to retire as soon as you can to take full advantage of the years when you're still relatively young and in good shape.
The average 65-year-old today can expect to live to approximately age 85, according to the Social Security Administration. If you delay retirement into your 70s, that doesn't give you much time to enjoy your senior years. Especially if you plan to spend a lot of time traveling the world or chasing after the grandkids in the backyard, retiring while you're still in good health can give you more time to enjoy the activities you love.
2. Delaying retirement might not be worth it
If you don't love your job and can afford to retire now, there aren't many benefits to waiting any longer. Sure, you could beef up your retirement fund by working a few more years. But if putting in more time at your job than necessary is only going to make you miserable, you might be better off retiring early and living on less.
Keep in mind, too, that you'll likely have Social Security benefits to depend on in retirement. While your monthly checks will be reduced if you claim before your full retirement age (which is either age 66, 66 and a few months, or 67, depending on the year you were born), holding off on claiming might not be worth it. You can begin claiming at age 62, and for every year you wait to file for benefits (up to age 70), you'll receive an additional 8% in benefits. If you already have a robust retirement fund, you might not need that extra cash. Claiming benefits early, then, could help you achieve your early-retirement goal.
3. You can start doing different work
Just because you're retired doesn't necessarily mean you have to quit working if you don't want to. Instead, you might be able to start a new career in an industry that's always intrigued you. Some industries are harder to get into than others, of course, but if you've always wanted to try something new but were afraid to leave your day job, retirement is the perfect opportunity to take the plunge.
Maybe, for example, you could finally start selling your arts and crafts online. Or maybe you could start a consulting business to be your own boss while offering your wealth of knowledge to younger generations. Whatever you choose, now is your chance to do something you're truly passionate about.
Before you leave your job...
Early retirement is certainly appealing, but make sure you've done your research before you dive in. If you're planning to retire before age 65, think about how you'll pay for healthcare, since you won't be eligible to enroll in Medicare just yet. Finally, make sure you've thought about how much you'll spend each year in retirement. Your savings will have to last the rest of your life, so it's wise to have a plan to ensure you don't spend too much too soon.
If you've done your homework and decided you can afford to retire early, it might be one of the best decisions you can make.