Making early retirement a reality

beachwine

Retiring early is a dream for many people in their fifties or early sixties. People want to retire early because they’d prefer to do something else than work at their jobs. Maybe they find their jobs boring, too stressful, or just unpleasant, or maybe there’s a hobby, volunteer position, or even another career they’d rather pursue instead.

Can early retirement be more than just a dream? Here are some things to consider before you make the jump.

Healthcare

Lack of quality, affordable healthcare is the top reason why more people don’t call it quits. If your spouse is employed and you’re included in his or her health plan, then you might have this covered, as long as your spouse plans to continue working. Otherwise, you might have to purchase private health insurance, which can be expensive, at least until you’re eligible for Medicare. But you also have to figure in the costs of that.

Savings

Do you have enough to live on? To find out, you might try totalling up your income (other than your present salary) and your expenses, and comparing. You might even try living on your non-salary income for a few months and see how it works. You might have to scale back your lifestyle somewhat – can you live with that?

Alternatively, there are online retirement calculators to help you decide whether you’re on track for a comfortable retirement.

If your expenses are low – for example, your home is paid off or soon will be, your children are no longer dependent on you, and you have few or no debts, then you might be in a better position to retire early. Ditto if you have  significant sources of income besides your salary, like a pension or inheritance.

What do you plan to do?

This might be the biggest question. Some people are forced out of their jobs because their companies downsized, while others leave voluntarily to pursue other interests. If you no longer go to the office or worksite each day, what will you do?

One woman left her job as a project manager and took a part-time position at her local library. Earning a degree at night made her qualified when a full-time position opened up. Another person left his high-paying consultant position, and his long daily commute, to become a high school science teacher in his neighborhood. Although both are making less money than before, they’re both much happier and more fulfilled.

You do have to run the numbers and make sure you’re financially ready to make the jump to early retirement. But it’s just as important to have someplace to jump to. After all, what’s the point of leaving your job if you don’t have somewhere better to go?

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