5 Common Reasons People Retire Early

Many workers are forced into retirement ahead of schedule for reasons they may not have foreseen.

Retirement diary open.
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By Joe Udo

Some people plan to work until they drop. Saving for retirement is difficult, and some people simply give up on it. A recent Wells Fargo (WFC) survey found that 34 percent of respondents think they will work until at least age 80 before they can retire. An even larger 37 percent said they will never retire and will continue to work until they are too sick or die.

Not having a retirement plan may turn out all right if you die a quick accidental death, but it's not a valid plan for everyone else. Your retirement date is not always under your control, and many people leave the workforce earlier than expected for a variety of reasons. Here are the most common reasons people retire early:

Layoff. The economy is picking up, so layoffs are not a huge problem at the moment. But we all know what will happen when times turn tough. Older workers are often the first to receive their layoff notices. They generally have more seniority and get paid more, so it's an effective way for companies to cut costs. As you get older, it also gets more difficult to find another job with comparable compensation. Older workers spend much more time unemployed, and it's easier for younger workers to bounce back from a layoff. If you are near retirement, it can be tempting to retire early rather than keep going to unsuccessful interviews.

Health. When we are young, we think we'll stay healthy forever. But that's not the case, and many workers retire early due to health problems. A sedentary job can contribute to many long-term illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Some people may be eligible for the Social Security disability insurance program, but it can be a long, drawn out process.

Caring for family. Another common reason people leave their careers early is to care for their loved ones. As we get older, our parents need more help. Some chronic health issues need a lot of support, and hiring full-time help may not be feasible. Our partner or kids could develop health issues as well. For some people it makes more sense to leave the workforce to care for their loved one than to pay someone else to do it.

Freedom to pursue interests. Some people plan to retire early and are financially ready to do so. Many of us have dreams and goals that can't be satisfied while holding down a full-time job. You might want to travel more, try self-employment by starting a business or join the Peace Corps. The good thing about going after your dream is that it doesn't have to be permanent. If early retirement doesn't work out, it's still possible to go back to work.

Dissatisfaction with your career. Many of us dream of telling our bosses, "I quit!" It's common to be unsatisfied with your job. If you can't tolerate it anymore, then it might be time to retire. If the main motivation for retiring is to get away from a toxic work environment, then retirement can be difficult. A better alternative would be to find a more satisfying career, and then retire when you're really ready. This will give you time to figure out how to have a satisfying retirement.

It's not a good plan to keep working until you drop. That might sound viable now, but you will probably change your mind when you're older. If you put off retirement saving until late in your career, then it will be very difficult to retire comfortably. Most people could save more for retirement. They just need to examine their budget and cut the fat. Don't skimp on your retirement saving, and make a retirement plan if you don't have one.

Joe Udo blogs at Retire By 40 where he writes about passive income, frugal living, retirement investing and the challenges of early retirement. He recently left his corporate job to be a stay at home dad and blogger and is having the time of his life.


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92 Comments

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trs51061

i guess its like your last day of school

December 11 2013 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sjk09s

I certainly see alot of elderly...and i mean elderly not just 60 something, working retail jobs around town. Supplementing social security i figure. not everyones invesrptments did well.

December 11 2013 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike edwards

i retired because body started to give out after 44 years doing mechanical work. plus its not the job you want to be doing in your 60s. i tried other work but no satisfaction like repairing autos. again its pretty hard physicaly plus the technology in todays car are so far advanced its hard to keep up with. im so glad im retired i almost do backflips every morning i have been retired.

December 11 2013 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pboucard50

Could barely wait to retire and it turned out to be everything I expected. Retirement is true freedom. No more work at the plantation, putting up with people who thought they own me and co-workers from hell.

December 11 2013 at 12:57 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to pboucard50's comment
Dan

Amen Brother!

December 20 2013 at 5:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mrs.Grant

ditto!! and it wasn't on the list...

April 07 2014 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
No Democrats

How about forced into early retirement. I know of many instances where individuals reach a certain age and the company tells them their job is being eliminated. Though some recieve a severence others are just let go or terminated for some mundane reason. Corporate America only looks out for it\'s own (those in upper management). Even then, if sh-t hits the fan nothing and nobody is sacred. I tell my grandkids to study hard, go to college, major in something that can be used to build their future on (not liberal arts), and start their own business. Working for others just doesn\'t get it anymore, you will be used and discarded, like a piece of trash.

December 11 2013 at 12:36 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
rwitchwoman63

Start saving for your retirement when you are young work multiple jobs..one should pay your bills the other you put into your retirement if you don't you will suffer later!!!!

December 11 2013 at 12:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
ticker1

Health, Not discussed in this article is how comapnies who have no concern for their employees when they are hurt allow them to just fall away. Injured and unable to do anything BUT go on disability for the injuries they received during the course of a work day. Workers comp . companies send you to unscrupulous doctors who \" have nothing to help you with\" While you have to find one who will ease your pain, or disability. Companies do not even take into account what these people have done for them and could still do. They see the salaries which are more often higher then the supervisors and say , well lets get rid of the high wage earners. How is it that \"doctors taking the Oath to help and heal others, can have one diagnosis, whils two others clearly can see that diagnosis is wrong?

December 11 2013 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BaltimoreBud

HUM.....I LOVED READING THE COMMENTS HERE. I am 68 now and unfortunately I didn't plan for retirement as well as others I started saving too late but did it with a vengence then at a time when my income was highest, but I knew I didn't have enough years in for a good retirement.

SO I TOOK A GAMBLE, A BIG ONE. In the boom years of real estate I got the bug to buy an investment property. I was on the computer every night, and might be out in the middle of the night in my car with my flashlight to look at a property I saw advertised.
A lot of what happend was just luck. I knew I wanted a commercial property. Every time I pulled up to see a property someone had just been there, and another was pulling up as I left. Boy those days are gone.

I found a small building,never on the market which was told to me word of mouth, and I looked at it. It required major investment and was a little iffy on location, but interesting. The seller was 100K below market then and didn't realize it. I bought it. Spent three years rehabbing it and started my own small business on the ground floor. My intent was to build the business up for 3 years and sell it to pay off the mortgage. I sold it in a year and a half and that building has givien me the replacemt income of my old job ever since. I had a built in long term commercial tenant and a very nice duplex above it which is rented out.

I was lucky. I also live in the city so if I can't drive I don't have to. That is another big item for retirement.

December 11 2013 at 11:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ralphhale3

As we move forward in this country, we'll see that the numbers won't work. Technology and greed will continue to eliminate US jobs. Ageism is and will be rampant. The younger people and managers who now so easily eschew eperienced staff, in favor of their peers will see this come back at them. These same younbg people are the ones who WILL wind up paying for the very people they throw under the bus. You can't fight math-unless you are a republican.

December 11 2013 at 11:29 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
djjh817

I was lucky enough to retire at age 50. When I turned 23 and started my career, I immediately opened my IRA and credit union savings account. My 30 year mortgage was paid off in seven years. Being debt free with no credit card debt helps. I was able to buy my few cars and other things on a cash only basis saving me thousands over the years. Now at 58, I've moved from the East Coast to the West and living the dream. My savings have lasted me for the past 8 years with my IRA age fast approaching. Since I did not want any children, my money has lasted.
Now, the reason I retired early. I started working at 10 years old helping my neighbor in the mason business. With my career at 23, I JUST GOT TIRED OF THE SAME OLD GRIND!!!!

December 11 2013 at 10:46 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply