There are hundreds of websites and thousands of articles dedicated to retiring early. Some even promote the idea of retiring before age 40. The idea of retiring before age 40 is called the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early).
Retiring early is a laudable goal. But some people jump into this extremely important decision without understanding the potential risks. It can be a decision that many regret especially when you consider that it might not be very easy to jump back into the workforce after being retired for several years.
So what are some of the downsides to retiring early? Let’s go through them.
Health Insurance and Medical Costs
Many people have health insurance through their employers. Those who retire early need to understand just how expensive health care will be without health insurance and before Medicare begins at age 65 for them. This can be especially expensive for those who have children and have to cover their medical costs as well. Decent health care and insurance for a family of four can cost more than $20,000 a year. This is something to keep in mind when planning for an early retirement.
It is vitally important to get quotes on health plans before making the leap to an early retirement. Some people don’t even factor in health care costs before making this decision and that is a mistake. This can be one of the biggest surprise expenses to anybody, but imagine having a large health care expense when you have no salary.
Long-Term Care Costs
Did you save anything for possible long-term care costs if you end up needing it? This is another potential expense to keep in mind. If you don’t have long-term care insurance, it is prudent to set aside some money in case you need long-term care.
Losing Compounded Returns
The beauty of saving early and consistently is that you get the power of compound interest over a long period of time if you don’t retire too early. But if you retire early, stop saving, and start spending your retirement savings, the power of compounded returns won’t be there for you.
The majority of people who are currently retiring in their 50s are able to do this because they maxed out their contributions to their 401(k) plans at work and the power of compounding worked for them over many years as the stock market continued its incredible rise.
The consequences of this are difficult to calculate on your own. That’s why it is important to use accurate and detailed DIY financial planning software for individuals or hire a financial planner to build a financial and retirement plan with you. Otherwise you are just guessing at the implications of retiring early.
Social Security Benefits Could Decline
The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates benefits for people based on their highest 35 years of earnings they received. If you retire early and did not work at least 35 years, you will be assigned a $0 salary in terms of Social Security credits for those years you did not work.
Your Social Security benefits will also be reduced further if you have to take payments before full retirement age, which is between age 66 and 67 depending on your birthday. Taking Social Security before the full retirement age will result in a reduced payment. The reduction is approximately 8% per year that you take it early. So if you take Social Security at age 62 and your full retirement age is 67, your benefits could be cut by as much as 40%!
Not Enough to Do
Most people don’t know how bored they can get until they stop working. What if you stop working at age 50 and don’t have enough hobbies? What will sustain in in colder winter months? These are things that any soon to be retiree should think about. But if retiring very early, it’s even more important to have lots of hobbies and activities lined up.
Another problem that comes with being bored is the fact that some people spend more money when they don’t have enough to do. This magnifies the early retirement problem because now savings are declining and might not be able sustain you in retirement.
Some people retire early, love it, and never look back. But others are not prepared either financially or mentally. It is extremely important to have a retirement plan in place so you understand if you really are ready to retire and what your risks are. Run your own financial and retirement plan with DIY planning software that is reliable or hire a financial planner. Make sure your financial plan is updated regularly and that you are tracking your progress over time.
It is also very important to have enough to do in retirement to occupy your time. The last thing you want to do is regret your decision to retire.