5 nasty surprises of early retirement
Being able to retire early is the pinnacle of financial planning. It brings together years of hard work, discipline and compromises to a joyful celebration. Just thinking about the days when I won't need to work gets me excited. But not everything will be rosy with an early exit. Here are some of the challenges of early retirement:
Finances will continue to be a worry. Many retirees end up spending much less than they originally envisioned because very few meticulous savers can withstand the thought of seeing their net worth gradually decrease each year. Though early retirees probably spent hours planning their finances, many will have an issue spending down their assets once that steady paycheck doesn't come.
Going back to work will always be a possibility. Many early retirees go back to work within a few years of retiring. They give different reasons for rejoining the workforce, but the worry of running out of money is always part of the equation. They likely built a substantial nest egg, but still can't bear the thought of seeing their stash dwindle when they are able and willing to earn more. However, they aren't applying to just any job. Early retirees typically have the financial resources to take their time to select a job that suits their interests and lifestyle, and they have the freedom to leave that job if it becomes stressful or overwhelming.
Happiness won't magically appear just because you are retired. If you view early retirement as happily ever after, then you better be sure the only reason you aren't happy now is because of your particular work situation. Hating your job isn't a good reason to retire early. Most people would be better off finding a better work situation. Then you can take your time thoughtfully planning how you will spend your days in retirement. It's best to already have an idea of what you want to retire to after you quit the nine-to-five grind. Otherwise, whatever is keeping you from being happy while working will likely retire with you well after the job ends.
You may feel lost without the grind. If you feel miserable about your life while working, that won't go away simply because you retire. You will have more time to think once you are no longer busy at work. There is plenty of time for those who are joyful to enjoy life, but some who are in a rut may feel even worse because having lots of time to think generally magnifies each emotion.
It's up to you to make your life better. You don't necessarily need to retire to fix whatever situation you are in. Even before you retire you can dust off all the hobbies you have always wanted to try. You can seek out new passions and meet new people who share those passions before quitting your job, and that will help you decide if early retirement will be a good fit. Once you make your exit, you'll get to travel and see the world if you choose, and have even more time to improve your finances and fitness.
Early retirement can be even better than you imagine. But utopia won't be automatic. You will need to take steps to make your life better to truly enjoy early retirement.
David Ning is the founder of MoneyNing.com.
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report