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Reasons to retire early

It’s not unusual to come across someone who tells me how lucky I am to have retired early, wish they could do the same, but don’t seem to be taking any action to make it happen.


Then there are others who can’t comprehend retiring early or perhaps even retiring at all. For some, that’s because they love their job, which is a perfectly good reason. But for others, they don’t particularly want to keep working, but simply can’t imagine what they would do if they didn’t go to their job each day. I understand the dilemma, but it seems a less good reason to me.


I’m now in my sixth year of early retirement and can honestly say that I haven’t regretted it for a moment. Not even once. An important aspect is that I put thought and effort into my retirement which I believe makes a difference - as the saying goes, you get out of life what you put into it. For me, retiring early has encouraged and enabled me to be more adventurous, take some big trips, move to a different country, learn to ski, start a blog and meet new and interesting people. It’s also delivered a change in mindset so that as well as having wish lists and dreams, I’m now better at believing it’s possible to convert those wishes and dreams into reality.


I don’t think early retirement is for everyone, and choosing to continue working is a perfectly valid option. But based on my positive experience, I do believe it makes sense to consider early retirement – is stopping work to follow other interests while younger, fitter and possibly healthier something you might want to do? Is it right to continue working simply because you can’t imagine what you would do to fill your days?

There’s no right or wrong answer as each of us are different, but these are a few reasons why I’m glad I took the opportunity to consider whether to continue working or to retire early.


Retiring early when you’re still active

About six weeks ago, I hurt my thumb in a ski fall and my knee when I slipped on ice while running. Both seemed innocuous at the time, but neither is yet properly healed. I’m still only 52, but I’m already realising that my body does not mend or recover as quickly as when I was younger. Then there are those times when I catch myself making the “old man noise” as I get up from sitting on the floor or from a low chair. I’m clearly getting older!😟


Physical activities get harder as we get older, which coincides with the time when most people retire. I accept that some of my retirement will be spent in my slower years, but I don’t want that to be all of my retirement. I have active pursuits and adventures that I want to enjoy, I want an active retirement. Retiring early lets me have that for a substantial period of time, waiting until normal retirement age, when I’d be in my late sixties, doesn’t.


Retiring early for freedom

This will mean different things to different people. Even my view of it differs depending on the day. A couple of weeks ago I missed my weekly posting deadline because it snowed and I instead chose to go out with friends searching for fresh powder to ski. My posting deadline didn’t matter, whereas if I was still working that certainly wouldn’t be the case.


Today, we’re in the campervan. We should have arrived at our destination yesterday, but we got sidetracked and stopped off amongst some vineyards. We might get there tonight but we might not. Maybe we’ll extend our trip, we’ll see how it goes.


Flexibility and freedom are two of the most prized aspects of my early retirement. I probably didn’t give these benefits enough weight during my early retirement decision, but now I guard them carefully.


Retiring early to buy time

Can money buy you more time? Well, it might not be able to make you live longer, but it can change how you live. By retiring early, we exchange the time commitment to our employers and give it back to ourselves.


Arguably, the most important time that we have is today. It’s the time we are guaranteed. We don’t know what the future may hold, other than we’re likely to become less able to be as active. My body and my mind can do more things now than in my seventies, eighties or nineties, which is a big benefit for me about early retirement.


Following new roads with my early retirement time

Back to our campervan trip, we’re headed to the South of France, a drive we could have done in a day. Instead, we set the navigation to avoid motorways and toll roads and instead meandered along country roads and through small towns and villages. It takes longer, but it’s very picturesque and I’m enjoying the journey much more than bashing down multi-lane highways. It’s just a small part of what we can do with the time we buy when retiring early.


Retirement has to be figured out one day, so why not now?

Someone recently said this to me and it sounded so obvious. My full pension would start when I turn 67, and that could easily have been what I defaulted to. If that were the case, I guess at the age of 66 I’d figure out what I would do in retirement. Well, how is that different to addressing that same question when I’m 45, 55 or 60? I don’t think there is any difference, other than at a younger age I’ll have more options as I’m likely to be fitter, possibly more healthy and have more energy. Retirement has to be figured out one day, so why not now?


Of course, how we figure out what we’ll do in early retirement / how we’ll replace work can be a big question. Big enough to warrant it’s own post, so watch this space.

As I said earlier, I don’t think early retirement is for everyone, and choosing to continue working is a perfectly valid option. However, it also makes sense to consider the alternatives. Is stopping work to follow other interests while your younger, fitter and possibly healthier something you might want to do? If it is, with some thought, the actions required to move your retirement date forward might be more possible than you might imagine.

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I found this blog really interesting with regards early retirement. I'm 52 and would like to finish when I'm 55 or 56. Talking to others in the office they are taking retirement much later....after 60 and upwards. This sounds really odd but I feel quite guilty about stopping when I'm able, particularly when talking to others. I know people who have retired a 55 and this has generally been received quite negatively. I guess my question is whether you had any reservations about pushing the button about the impact it had on you and your colleagues? Great blog btw, keep posting.

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Hi Andy, I must confess that I didn't have any reservations about my early retirement in regards to how it (only might) impact my colleagues. That said, my circumstances might have been different being an expatriate worker and there was a fair amount of staff movement at the company at that time too.


But in any event, why should you feel guilty? If you've put yourself in a position where you can enjoy an earlier retirement, then you've earned it. I found that people were happy for me on the whole, particularly the ones I cared most about. It might be that, once people get used to the idea, that they might be inspired by what you're planning and start…


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Tengo la mismo problema en Español. My Spanish improved throughout our trip in Costa Rica. I understood more and more towards the end of the trip. But an intensive Spanish course in Latin America is still on the bucket list. Keep on trying, the French will come to you...

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Je l'espére, merci pour l'encouragement!

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Tried to send this privately, but couldn't find an email address. Some thoughts on your cost tracking sheet. Would love to see categories for your line items. Necessities first: Shelter - incl your home, clothing; Food, Health incl sports activities, Utilities. Then non-necessities section: Transportation, Entertainment, Travel, Other. As you can see, I'm so OCD that I would tell you to format these headers in bold with no underline. And to insert a column on the far left for all these headers so the lines are indented. But that's just me... This would give more context to all those lines. Then for the UK house, if you add rental income and fair value, you can Calc a return on…

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I'm trying to recall how the order of the costs came about. I think from memory, it was at one time based on biggest cost item at the top, working it's way down to the smallest. But since then, a few things have been added, the UK property and probably a couple of other line items too, so that logic may be a little outdated.

A difficulty with the necessities approach is that I'm not sure it really records necessities accurately. For example, clothes might be a necessity, but it I bought only Calvin Klein boxers and Ralph Lauren polo shirts then that doesn't really tick the necessity box (by the way, I don't buy those). The same goes for…

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A thoughtful and well articulated blog as usual David. With regard to your your comment, can money buy you more time? I have observed with ex colleagues, in addition to not wishing to retire because as you say, they can't imagine what they would do with each day, there are others that do not wish to miss out on the financial rewards from continuing to work, so delay their retirement. I see it slightly differently to others I feel. None of us know how long we will live for, but life is finite and working longer is not going to change the end date, in fact in a stressful role, continuing to work may even bring it forward. So to…

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Hi Peter, I couldn't agree more, although I must be either a little more conservative or optimistic as I set the age that we need to finance to into our 90's (I think +/- 95). I'm sure that is way too conservative as our spending should slow as we age. By the way, I'm sure there will be funds that we leaveor gift to our kids, but I don't arrange my life around this (if we spend it all, that's OK with s and with them too). Society (and the clever marketing people) tell us that we need to have more, newer, the best/latest things, which of course costs money. On the other hand, I've converted to the concept of enough…

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Johnston Orr
Johnston Orr
Apr 16, 2022

Excellent post, David. Great points, well made. We can’t get that time back, so we should make the most of it while we’re able to.

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Johnston Orr
Johnston Orr
Apr 18, 2022
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Very good point on the following of routines. Planning isn’t random, but non-planning is often not random too!

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