Why You Shouldn't Delay Retirement

Dave Bernard
December 27, 2013

Do you really want to wait until you are 65 to enjoy the retirement life you have always wanted? Wouldn't it be nice if you could leave behind the stressful working world and begin to live your second act earlier rather than later? Imagine getting up each day with nothing you have to do hanging over your head. Instead, you experience the luxury to choose what you will do or not do as the case may be. You could take a trip, write a book, enjoy a hobby you have always loved or do nothing as you revel in the peace and quiet of a life that you control. Why do we delay this magical time until age 65?

For most people, the big reason retirement cannot happen until later in life is strictly financial. If you decide you no longer want to work, you must have enough income generating investments and savings to subsidize your lifestyle. And with the economic volatility we have recently come to know, there is always risk. What may have been sufficient savings 10 years ago can change dramatically if we throw in a bit of political shenanigans, world conflict or another bursting financial bubble. It takes guts to exit the working world before society says you are supposed to.

Rules of thumb suggest that to live comfortably you will need 80 percent of your pre-retirement earnings or enough saved to allow you to comfortably withdraw 4 percent or less per year for the duration of your retirement years. But you might be able to get by on less. If the tradeoff is working more years at a job you dislike or reducing your standard of living a bit, some people choose to cut back their expenses. It's easier to be frugal if it allows you to reach your target retirement date sooner.

I am 55, and the prospect of working another ten years until I am 65 seems like a long way down the road. I believe I have it in me to retire today and live a happy retired life from this day forward. I would like my retirement to include a mix of doing nothing with doing things that matter. I am learning to balance relaxation with an innate need to accomplish and achieve. I am coming to grips with the reality that I am no longer 20 and immortal. I am beginning to accept the realities of aging, although I plan to live an active second act. If my bank account was a bit more significant, I believe I could pull the trigger now. And I think I would like retirement just fine.

Am I ready to retire now before reaching age 65? I think I am. Do I have enough socked away to allow for the financial independence that is an important part of any fulfilling retirement? I don't think I am there quite yet. Could I have done it differently along the way to have given myself a better chance at an earlier end date? That I will never know. But for those who still have time to make adjustments and save a bit more, the promise of beginning to live your second act before age 65 should serve as a worthy motivation.

Dave Bernard is the author of "I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be". Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.