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Why I'm Planning for an Early Retirement -- Even Though I Don't Want One

By Maurie Backman – Jan 15, 2022 at 7:36AM

Key Points

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Although I don't have the desire to retire early, I may not get that choice.

I know plenty of people who want nothing more than to retire early. But I feel the opposite way.

The idea of retirement in general sounds a little scary to me because I'm the sort of person who likes to keep busy and doesn't tend to do well with too much downtime. And so I'm hoping to keep working as long as possible.

In fact, ideally, I won't ever really retire so much as scale back my working hours substantially. Doing so isn't just something I feel will be good for my schedule -- it's also something that's apt to benefit me financially.

A person at a laptop.

Image source: Getty Images.

While I'm doing my best to sock money away in a dedicated retirement plan, I also know that senior living costs can be exorbitant. And so I figure that if I'm able to keep working in some capacity, it can only help.

But while my goal is to either retire at a late age or technically not retire at all, I also feel compelled to plan for the opposite scenario. And you may want to do the same.

When life throws you a curveball

Many people plan to work until a certain age, only to have those plans upended by health issues, layoffs, or other factors. And I can't discount the possibility of that happening to me.

That's why even though I have no desire to retire early, I have to set myself up financially to be able to leave the workforce at a fairly young age. And I'm doing so in a couple of ways.

First, I'm aggressively funding my savings. Not only do I max out my retirement plan contributions every year, but I also pump extra money into my brokerage account. The investments I hold there aren't assets I plan to tap anytime soon. Rather, my goal is to hang onto them until I reach retirement in case I need to use them as an income source.

I'm also doing my best to avoid debt -- both the healthy and unhealthy type. The mortgage I carry is less than what I can afford, but I'm deliberately keeping my housing costs low so as to free up more money for savings and investments. And I don't carry credit card balances for a similar reason -- I don't want to waste money on interest that could instead be going into savings.

By working so hard to build savings when retirement is decades away, I'm hoping to have a pretty strong nest egg by the time my early 60s roll around. That way, if I'm forced to retire at that point, I'll have enough money to cover my expenses.

Furthermore, if I'm forced to retire at an earlier age than expected, I may have to claim Social Security sooner than expected. I'm not planning to rely very heavily on those benefits as a retirement income source, but it's money nonetheless. Still, by aggressively funding my savings now, I'm setting myself up to not get hurt if I have to slash my Social Security income by claiming benefits before full retirement age.

Hope for the best -- but have a backup plan

There's nothing wrong with planning to work longer. But sometimes, life doesn't go the way we plan.

While I certainly hope to not have to retire early, I also know that it's a possibility I can't ignore. So I'm doing my best to save and invest as much as I can now, while I'm able to bring in a paycheck.

If your goal is to retire later on, that's fine. But don't delay your retirement savings with the thought that you'll have more years in the workforce to sock that money away. You may end up having to leave your job earlier than expected, and so postponing your savings efforts is a move that could seriously backfire, despite your best intentions.

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