Why Early Retirement is About More than Retirement

December 6, 2012

early retirementLots of people are hoping for and working toward early retirement. Some are hoping for retirement as early as age 35 or 40, but most are probably targeting something closer to 50 or 55. While we might think of early retirement as simply a version of traditional retirement that comes sooner in life, there other situations that early retirement can help you be prepared for.

Paving the Way for a Career or Business Change

While we might not think of early retirement in the same sentence as preparing for a new career or business, that’s exactly what could happen.

Like a lot of people, you may be working in a job and career that you really don’t like, but the pay is good so you soldier on. At the same time, there may be some other type of work that you would like to do, but it just doesn’t pay very well. This can be especially true if you’re thinking about transitioning from a high paying career field to a low-paying one, or one that takes several years to reach living wage status.

If you have prepared for early retirement, you will be able to make that transition. Because you have the resources that will afford you early retirement, you’ll be able enter the lower paying but more satisfying career and still have enough money to live on. Your early retirement planning will make this possible.

Preparing for Non-Income Producing Activities

Maybe you’ve been very involved in charity work or faith-based activities, and you’d like to take that up to a full-time status – early retirement can help with this too. These are the kind of activities that, while very satisfying, typically don’t offer much in the way of compensation. In order to participate in them on a full-time basis, you’ll have to have other resources. A solid early retirement plan will provide just that.

Taking Care of Family Concerns

Often by the time you hit your 50s, you’ll have family concerns to deal with. This can be carring for elderly parents, or helping adult children who have little ones of their own but are going through a tough time.

Family concerns can be time-consuming and emotionally draining. They can often interfere with your ability to earn a living. This is especially true if the problems are long-term in nature – and they often are.

If you are prepared for early retirement when these concerns arise, you will have the time and resources that you need in order to take care of your loved ones.

Dealing with Health Issues

This isn’t something most of us want to think about, but middle age sometimes brings health issues. A heart condition, a bout of cancer or some lesser-known ailment could reduce your capacity to work. If you have prepared your life for early retirement, you’ll be in a better position to deal with both the health problem and the financial concerns that go with it.

Early retirement could even help you to recover. Since you’ll be in a position to retire, you won’t have the stresses that come with the concern for keeping your job. You can take your time getting better, and the lack of stress can only help with that.

Being Prepared for a Mid-Life Job or Career Loss

Middle age isn’t always a warm fuzzy place to be in the job market. Because of age and higher income, you are vulnerable to layoffs. Finding a new job will be complicated by the same factors. If you are prepared for early retirement, you’ll already be in a position to deal with a career crisis.

It could even be said that an early retirement plan would just about remove a midlife career crisis as a problem. You’ll already be prepared to deal with it, and it will mostly be a matter of deciding which direction you want to go in.

You might want to start thinking about early retirement preparation as less about getting ready for a life of leisure, and more about preparing for life itself. Any of the above situations can come to be whether you are ready or not. But if you prepare for early retirement, you’ll be ready.

What motivates you to prepare for early retirement? Have you ever thought about the possibilities beyond retirement itself? Leave a comment!


Will this article help you save or earn more money? Get others like it simply by entering your email address below. Your email is used only for delivering daily money tips and you can opt out of delivery at any time. Click here to see all your free subscription options.


Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.

All posts by


2 Responses to Why Early Retirement is About More than Retirement

  • Daisy@Everything Finance

    I don’t know if I agree that changing careers can be retirement.. to be retired is to not be working. I like (LOVE) the idea of retiring early, but I mean to actually retire. People change careers several times in the span of their life time and I think it’s expected!

    • Kevin

      Hi Daisy–I get what you mean. But for people 50 and over, a career change could be preferrable to full out retirement. Full retirement at 50 will mean 30-40 years of draining retirement assets, and you might not want to start doing that so early.

      What I most like about early retirement is that it opens so many options.