Here’s Why I Don’t Want To Retire Early

by Travis Pizel · 21 comments

retire earlySpend little, save a lot, achieve financial independence and retire early. It’s the dream of many to be able to exit the traditional nine-to-five workforce and spend the rest of their days living a life of leisure. Early retirement is certainly a popular goal, but it’s one I quite honestly do not share.

There are several reasons why I wouldn’t retire early even if I thought I had the funds saved up to do so:

My Job Rocks

I wake up each and every day excited to go to work. I could count on one hand the number of companies in the world at which I could do the kind of work I do as a software engineer. It’s exciting, I get to work with rapidly changing, leading edge technology, and it’s always mentally challenging.

I also don’t live within the structure of the traditional nine-to-five workday. Because much of my team resides in India, working at least part of my day overlapping my teammate’s work day is actually encouraged. I have the flexibility to work from home and I am free to come and go from my office as I wish (within reason). I can leave to attend my kids’ school events, go to the gym, or even run errands. As long as I get my work done, my employer is absolutely OK with it.

Continue To Build Wealth

My job pays me very well. The longer I work, the more wealth I build. By continuing to earn a great income doing something I enjoy, I can afford more life experiences now and have a bigger nest egg for when I do want to retire. I also don’t feel as guilty when I splurge. Even a huge purchase like buying a car is manageable if you think about it because you can make that money back if you are willing to delay your retirement by a few months.

Retirement Is An Unknown

There are many things that need to be considered when you are trying to determine how much to save for retirement. Among the most common are:

  • The type of lifestyle you want to live in the golden years or yearly rate of spending
  • Length of time the funds need to last
  • Rate of growth of the remaining investment funds

Unfortunately, you can only estimate much of the information these calculations require as inputs. We don’t know any of the following information:

  • How long we will live
  • The rate of growth of investments
  • The rate of inflation, or cost of living increase
  • Whether we will incur major medical expenses

A person that retires early increases the difficulty in determining how much they need to support through retirement because they need to live off their savings for a much longer time. Think of it this way: We’re told to start saving for retirement early in life because time is our greatest asset when it comes to maximizing the growth of our funds. But time is your enemy in retirement. All of the unknowns listed above could increase the amount of money you need through retirement.

The last thing I want to do is try to get a job when I’m elderly and have no relevant skills.

Many people feel trapped by their day job and set a goal to live frugal lives to allow them to retire early and do what they really want to do. I’m lucky enough to have a career where I’m doing exactly what I want to do. By being well compensated for my expertise, I can continue to build wealth for several more decades and greatly increase my standard of living in retirement. At the same time, working helps decrease the uncertainty of whether I’ve saved enough.

What are your thoughts on early retirement?

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  • Ryan G says:

    Agreed with previous comments on retiring early with some source of part time and/or passive income. Definitely a good way to go. Ramping down from a 40+ hour work week to nothing can be quite jarring, and bad for your health in some cases. Part time work can help ease the transition.

    My wife’s grandparents planned to have enough money to live well in retirement. My wife’s grandfather passed away, but her grandmother lives on (fortunately!!!). Unfortunately, they never expected that either of them would live as long as the grandmother has, and they expected their home would be worth a lot more than it was, so now she is running out of money… Tough situation to be in honestly.

  • freebird says:

    Early retirement was my only goal when I started work because I disliked my job and wasn’t able to find anything better. So I did a very high savings rate and reached financial independence within a dozen years. By then my job was becoming more interesting and I was getting pretty good at it, so I decided to stick around. I recently passed the quarter century mark, took a test run in early retirement, hated it, and let management talk me back to work with a ‘total control’ package. I’d say my job now is better than I could have imagined back on Day 1.

    My suggestion to you is to not let today’s sunshine push you away from achieving financial independence as quickly as you can. I too work in technology, and while I’ve been lucky, I know people who got caught by abrupt unexpected changes. Those who worked in rare unique environments had a tough time finding another sweet spot. In short, don’t expect your cheese to stay there forever, especially in technology.

    As for wealth building be sure to get increasing equity exposure for your time. Eventually your vesting options will bring in more than your paycheck. Once you reach financial independence, you can ask for the buck a year package that may lead to serious money down the road.

    Your retirement target may have uncertainty but it’s not a complete unknown. Assuming no social security and no pension benefits, if you multiply your total annual spending by 50x, once your net investment portfolio net reaches this value, you should be set for life. No guarantees of course but for most people this will be enough.

    Finally, I don’t think time is your enemy in retirement– rather lack of time to enjoy retirement is the enemy. People your age often don’t understand how money can quickly become irrelevant in the face of a serious health issue. What’s worse than getting a low-wage service job when you’re elderly is being diagnosed with with a terminal condition before even having the chance to think about a bucket list.

    So my advice would be to prepare for early retirement even if you don’t plan to take it because doing so will give you the flexibility to respond to a future situation that you may not expect, either good or bad.

    • David @ says:

      Solid advice freebird, and awesome to hear your story. You brought up a great point – that it’s actually possible a job situation can get better through time. We often hear of stories about bad bosses replacing good ones, but the opposite can also happen. Don’t lose faith if you feel like you are stuck in a rut!

      I totally agree that everyone needs to save for retirement early even if an early exit isn’t desired, because having that financial security can change a person’s life by providing confidence to make better choices.

      There’s one thing I want to caution folks here though. Stock options can work out wonderfully, as it sounds like it did for freebird. But there are no guarantees that companies will continue to do well. Some companies do go bankrupt, so weight your options and manage your risks accordingly.

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      Definitely good advice…..I would never tell anyone to slow their rate of savings if they love their job because they’ll just work longer….because as you mentioned things can change over time. I’m just saying that achieving financial independence for the sole purpose of quitting my job is not my current motivation. thanks for your comment!

  • Connie says:

    Fidelity’s website has an excellent retirement planning section. It figures in many variables – inflation rate, stock market scenarios, health costs, etc. I think that if you do not have an account with them that you can sign on as a guest to use this form. It is quite extensive and it very much laid any of my concerns to rest as to whether or not I will have enough money to retire on.

    • David @ says:

      I think you are talking about the Retirement Income Planner (RIP) from Fidelity. I heard it’s recently undergone an update and they are still working on the bugs. Do you have any issues with the new version?

      • Connie says:

        I have not updated my data for at least 6 months, so I will try to do so soon and get back to you.

        • David @ says:

          Oh I would just wait a bit. Chances are good that they’ll keep fixing the initial bugs and it’s actually nice to be able to leave the numbers behind for a bit.

          Wait a few months and then let me know when you need to use it again.

      • Connie says:

        I just took a look at the new Fidelity site. It still had all of my figures in that I put in several months ago. It seems to be not quite as user friendly as before, but that may be just what I was used to. The only area that I saw that was different was the hypothetical market analysis. The old plan had four markets to choose from and this only has two. The previous plan allowed to you see what would happen in an extremely poor market and an extremely good market in addition to an “underperforming” market and an “average” market.

        I have checked out several other retirement planning sites (Vanguard, Schwab, T. Rowe Price) and Fidelity seems to be the most inclusive. I enjoy playing with these figures, so if you have found another site that you feel is better than Fidelity, please let me know. We do have accounts with Fidelity, Vanguard and Schwab and maybe because of that, we can access a more detailed plan or not.

        • David @ says:

          Thanks for looking into this Connie.

          Some of the ones I know of, like, is a for-profit product so you would have to play to use it. I sometimes use and to show some projections, so you can play around with that.

          These calculators are useful to serve as a guide but they can be dangerous too as it can give a false sense of security so I don’t use them as if they are the end-all-be-all.

          • Connie says:

            You are so right not to put too much stock into these figures. Whenever I do use them, I always use their worse case scenarios. I figure that way I’ll be ahead of the game in an average situation, but will also be prepared for the worst. I also figure that doing projections is better than doing nothing and not having a clue as to what the future may bring.

            Thank you for the additional info on other calculators. I will try them.

        • David @ says:

          Good plan Connie. And knowledge is definitely helpful. Otherwise, it’s easy to continually spend less in retirement as you feel the squeeze of seeing a possibly declining account balance plus everything costing more even though you can actually loosen the strings a bit.

  • NoRoboGuy says:

    You can’t take it with you. Enjoy your life. There is more to life than work. Having the freedom to choose your daily activities is retirement’s greatest reward. For me, retiring early has been a great blessing, and I am never bored.

    • David @ says:

      Good for you. The key to happiness is to be happy with the situation you are already in. Early retirement is definitely a blessing for many people.

      Enjoy your comfortable retired life!

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      The key phrase in your comment is “the freedom to choose your daily activities”…and I would add “is LIFE’S greatest rewards.” I choose my daily activities….and right now I choose to go to work and do a job that makes me happy!

  • girokonto says:

    I would prefer to work less and have a passive income.

    • David @ says:

      Good for you girokonto. I love passive income as well and actively work towards rolling my snowball!

    • Travis @enemyofdebt says:

      If that’s what makes you happy, girokonto, more power to you! I don’t think of it as work as much as I do getting paid to do something cool.

      • David @ says:

        It’s so awesome you actually love your work like that. If they pay you to have fun, then why not take the paycheck too right?

  • AC says:

    what a stupid article. Yes today you have a job that you love but tomorrow you may hate it to extreme – total short sighted this man or woman.

    • Tightrope says:

      What an ignorant response. It’s a foregone conclusion that there are no guarantees in life, but you have to plan certain things based on your situation today and your best guess as to what it’ll be tomorrow. I applaud this person’s desire to continue to be a productive contributor to society rather than some sort of elder statesman traveler that spends his years vegetating on cruise ships and or at resorts. I tried retirement for two years. Not for me. I’ll work until I’m physically unable to do so because I ENJOY being active and engaged and love what I do. Nothing short-sighted about that whatsoever.

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