Retirement, long viewed through the lens of being a set date and age one needs to reach, is evolving among millennials who have a different vision of retirement. In Schwab’s Retirement Reimagined Study, millennials surveyed see retirement as a state of mind or target lifestyle. As a result, they are approaching retirement differently than previous generations.
One strategy is considering early retirement. Should you retire early if you have the opportunity to do so? No matter which generation you are part of, consider why it may benefit you to retire early.
You Have Enough Money
This may sound obvious enough, but someone who is financially prepared for retirement earlier in life may retire sooner than someone who is working to get financially caught up.
If you have enough money to do it comfortably, Brad Hindman, CFP and managing director of investments at Wells Fargo Advisors, recommends retiring early. This is part one of two assets one must have in order to enjoy an early retirement.
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You Have the Right Mindset
The second part of an early retirement is having the right mindset. Hindman, who has been a financial advisor for 22 years, has observed that fear of the unknown is what typically causes people to hesitate from retiring when they should or beginning retirement earlier.
“Being in the right emotional or psychological state for retirement should not be overlooked,” Hindman said. “Once someone reaches their 50s and 60s, time can essentially be viewed as a commodity. If they’ve done everything right financially and are prepared for retirement overall, they should consider retiring as early as they can — and focus on spending time with people they love and doing what they enjoy.”
You Are in Good Health
One of the greatest expenses in retirement is healthcare. If you want to retire but are struggling with your health or have preexisting conditions, you may consider working until age 65, when you qualify for Medicare. This will ensure better peace of mind in knowing you are able to cover any healthcare expenses.
Those in poor health who decide to retire early may land in positions where they receive unexpected healthcare bills and struggle to pay them or experience a significant financial loss because of it.
However, those who emphasize the care and keeping of their physical and mental health will find it’s easier to consider early retirement. It can be beneficial for your physical and mental health, alleviating stressors that can lead to burnout or exhaustion.
Want to get a head-start on prioritizing your physical health now? Eat well and cook healthy meals, exercise appropriately, get a good night’s sleep and stay active through neighborhood walking or gardening groups.
Not only will this benefit your body, but it will contribute to a much more enjoyable start to early retirement.
“The first 10 to 15 years of retirement are considered the best as people are generally younger and healthier,” Hindman said, “which helps to create better outcomes for enjoying their retirement years.”
You Can Reduce Cost of Living by Moving
Homeowners who are considering early retirement and are in good financial shape might consider selling their homes and moving to new cities or states.
This is especially true of homeowners who live in areas with high cost of living. Let’s use the example of a homeowner who purchased a house in California in the 1990s and is considering selling it and moving to a state where the cost of living is much less, such as New Mexico.
This is a clear win-win for the homeowner, who can sell the home that has increased significantly in value over the years since its purchase. The owner may move to a new state with a lower cost of living and purchase a similar-sized home for much less. Any remaining money from the original home sale can go into retirement savings.
Retiring Early Actually Mitigates Your Risks
Lauren Keys, personal finance expert at Trip Of A Lifestyle, retired at age 29 with husband Steven after about eight years in their respective fields of science education and small business marketing. While early retirement is often criticized for being financially risky, Keys said, it actually offers more flexibility than traditional retirement.
“One of the biggest financial risks of retirement is called sequence of returns risk,” Keys said. “Negative investment returns in the first few years can derail your plans more substantially than in later years.”
If you retire at a young age, Keys said, you get to see how those first few years pan out. If things aren’t working as planned, all is not lost. You can go back to work since you’re still young and energetic.
Keys added, “Retiring early actually mitigates your risks by leaving you with a solid backup plan.”
Your Financial Advisor Recommends It
If you’ve been diligently working on your retirement plan and your financial advisor signs off on an early retirement, go for it!
Hindman does warn clients the first 12 to 15 months of retirement can feel somewhat like jumping off a cliff. This is natural: Retirees are adjusting and settling into an enjoyable retirement during this timeframe.
Trust that your advisor knows what is best for you.
“As financial advisors,” Hindman said, “it’s our role to provide an overview of their solutions and overall retirement plan — and the confidence regarding their decision on when to retire falls into place.”
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