Retire early for freedom

Most of us are taught as children that work is a healthy, enjoyable thing. And it can be – especially if you’re on the receiving end of someone else’s labour.

It’s also undeniable that unemployment has blighted generations, leaving entire communities such the former industrial heartlands of the North and Wales drifting for generations when the work went away.

If work is so important, why give it up?

1. Most of us don’t enjoy the work we do

We might get some vague sense of satisfaction from playing a productive role in society, but Monday mornings are too often painful, and Sunday nights are bittersweet. If you spend the day clock watching, you should certainly also be wishing forward your retirement date.

2. There’s more to you than your career

Remember when you were a kid, when you made friends easily, were interested in everything, and struggled to learn the clarinet? Was it growing up and growing old that did for your sense of possibility? Or was it more the rigid routine of the 9-5? (Or the 9-6, or 9-7, or 9-8?). Get your sense of wonder back.

3. It’s a big world out there

How much have you seen? And are you really seeing it at its best in just two weeks on a whirlwind luxury eco-tour that you’ve barely relaxed into before you have to go back to the office to pay for it? You might have to rough it if you retire early, but you’ll also have more time to enjoy the view.

4. You can work at something else

Most people can think of a job that they’d rather be doing during work time.

What would you actively value and enjoy? Marine biologist? Dog walker? Artist, busker, small business owner, primary school teacher, surf instructor?

“Nobody on their deathbed says, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”
– Anonymous (but they’d be welcome around these parts)

Very few high-flyers do their dream jobs – because they can’t get what they want on their dream job salary. But if you’re retired with an income, what do you care about the pay? (Actually, even a modest part-time salary will really help with a comfortable retirement, but that’s for another day).

Personally I don’t intend to ever fully retire, as such. But I’m getting close to retiring from having to work, and that makes all the difference.

5. You can do good deeds with all your free time

Lots of charities, political groups, and fledgling businesses are short of the skills and manpower needed to make a difference – and that’s a real difference, that impoverished people and places will be better for. If you want to, you can help one that’s close to your heart.

6. You’ve probably done enough for your kids

By the time a child leaves university, the average middle-class parent has lavished a six-figure sum on raising, educating and amusing them, not to mention keeping them clean. Then they ask you for a house deposit. Fine – you love them and they’re worth it. But should you keep working for them until you drop, just to fund an inheritance?

If you’re close to retirement age already, ask them: They’ll possibly tell you to spend the lot. At least that’s what I told my dad.

7. The hours are great

Ever had a sickie and noticed how much more pleasant the world is when everyone else is cooped up in the office? Shopping is a joy, there’s no one on the beach, the roads are empty.

Okay, slight exaggeration – that’s more for a future article on The Benefits of Retiring After Nuclear Armageddon.

The little perks are real enough though, such as leaving for your holiday at an odd midweek time that most people can’t make because of work. It might just save you enough to pay for two!

You can get a taste of this greener, more pleasant land by downshifting to work from home on your way to retirement.

8. It’s fun

Look folks, you’re not at work! You can do whatever you like! If you really can’t think of anything great to do with a little money and a lot of time, then contrary to prevailing wisdom maybe you’re exactly the kind of person who needs to retire and start looking. We pass this way but once, whether we’re 45 or 65.

“When you stop doing things for fun you might as well be dead.”
– Ernest Hemmingway (Who lived up to it…)

(9. You’ve little to lose by trying)

(Okay, we’re whispering this reason because it kind of goes against the grain. But even if you get to your designated job-free day of reckoning and after a month find yourself climbing up the wall, wishing that you were still working, then… then so what? Go back to work. Okay, you’ve missed out on a few holidays and luxuries over the years by saving for something that you didn’t actually need, but any early retiree who goes back to work should have a great pot of cash to ease the pain.

If you find you hate retirement, then maybe chuck half your total investment pot into some long-term financial provision, spend the rest on a sports car, a flat in Rio, and family trips to New York for the weekend. And then return to the office. You’ll still enjoy a comfortable retirement some day, just a shorter one.)

10. You can’t take it with you…

…unless you spend your loot freezing your head for future generations to revive. Such antics lie beyond the scope of Monevator!

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