14 Reasons Why Early Retirement Is Completely Overrated

It’s good to review your options before you retire early because it's not right for everyone.

Senior woman working from home
Updated June 6, 2024
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Many working Americans plan for retirement and many are probably counting down the days until they reach it, but retirement may not be all that you hope it will be.

Sure, eliminating the stress that comes with work might sound like a good idea, but are you financially fit to make that kind of change, and is that kind of change the right decision for you?

Here are a few things you should consider before you decide to hand in your retirement letter and stop working, especially if you’re hoping to retire early.

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You can’t go back to work easily

Mediteraneo/Adobe senior woman interviewing job applicants

You might think you can retire now and go back to work later if it doesn’t work out. That might sound good in theory, but you may be surprised when you try to re-enter the workforce and can’t get rehired.  

Potential employers may not want to take a chance on someone who gave up on their career once already or doesn’t have recent work experience because they’ve been retired for several years.

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You might be bored

Rido/Adobe woman using microwave oven at home

Retirement sounds like a great option when you can play golf and go out to lunch every day with friends.

But are you going to be happy about doing that over and over again with no end in sight? And if not, remember that it can be tiring trying to do new things each day when you’re not going to a job regularly.

You could run out of money

KMPZZZ/Adobe senior couple calculating bills on laptop

It’s important to have enough money saved up so you can live comfortably when you’re retired. But if you retire early, you’ll likely need an even bigger nest egg.

Review your retirement investments and consider talking to a financial advisor who specializes in retirement plans. You might be surprised by how much more money you need to retire early.

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You haven’t thought about other income sources

WavebreakMediaMicro/Adobe stressed senior couple reviewing bills

Early retirement can be appealing, but you may not be able to rely on some income sources if you retire too early. You’ll have to factor in the minimum age you can begin taking money out of a retirement account like a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA (usually age 59 ½).

You should also consider how early you can begin to receive Social Security and if you can hold off and take distributions later so you can receive larger monthly checks. 

You’ll also need to review any potential pension plan you may have with your company and if there are minimum age restrictions on receiving payments.

You don’t have hobbies to keep you busy

Budimir Jevtic/Adobe senior man napping at home

You may think it will be nice to relax and not have to go to the office anymore. But what are you going to do instead?

A hobby can be a great way to fill your time and you might even be able to make it into a side hustle if you want to earn some extra cash. 

But it’s a good idea to start thinking now about what to do on a regular retired day or you could get bored fast.

You can lose the respect of others

pikselstock/Adobe worried senior man sitting alone

You might think you’re going to have a great time retiring early and letting all of your friends and family know how amazing it is to not have to work anymore.

But others may see it as lazy or bragging, which could affect your relationships. They also might not be willing to come to your aid later on if you find yourself in financial distress because you retired too early and need help.

You’re motivated by a fear of missing out

ChayTee/Adobe unhappy woman on couch at home

You may want to retire because you’re missing out on the fun that other people are having. Retired people go on vacations, throw parties on weeknights, and spend all day at the golf course.

But a fear of missing out could lead you to make decisions that aren’t thought out or financially sound. Don’t jump without a plan just because you don’t want to miss out.

Remember, it can work both ways. You may be at home bored and thinking you’re now missing out on new projects and exciting work where you just left.

You don’t get to spend as much time with friends and family as you think

MarianStock/Adobe senior woman sitting on park bench

You might be ready to retire and spend time with family and friends, but those family and friends could still have jobs.

Think about the people you may want to catch up with at lunch or hang out with during the day and remember that they could still be working.

You want an easy way out of your job

baranq/Adobe man working on laptop at cafe

Your job could be wearing you down or weighing on your physical and mental health. It could be a good idea for you to get out of the situation and find something else.

But consider other work options before you hand in your retirement letter and go home. 

Perhaps it’s just a bad boss you need to get away from or maybe you can use your talents and earn more money at a different company or organization rather than simply retiring.

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You have health issues

Studio Romantic/Adobe female doctor writing medication for patient

Health issues can be an important factor when deciding whether you should retire. You may receive good health benefits in your current position including drug benefits or vision and dental benefits. 

These benefits may not be as good if you retire without a backup plan or are too young to get access to your Medicare benefits, which don’t start until age 65.

Your spouse is still working

insta_photos/Adobe senior woman reviewing bills

You’re probably excited about retiring to spend more time with your spouse. Perhaps you have plans to travel more or do fun activities during the day together like dining out or going to the movies.

But your plans will come to a halting stop if you still have a spouse who is working full-time or part-time.

It’s important to factor in your spouse’s job situation when you think about your own retirement or you might be surprised by your expectations not being met.

You haven’t considered other options

JackF/Adobe senior female student attending class

You may think your only option is to retire. But you have other options to consider such as going back to school or making a career change that still utilizes your talents.

Consider other paths before you assume that your only two options are your current job or no job.

You’ll just watch television

Astarot/Adobe african american man eating popcorn

One sobering statistic about older Americans is the number of hours of television they watch each day.

According to one study, adults 65 to 74 years old watch 4.25 hours of television per day while adults over 75 watch 4.79 hours of TV each day. That compares with 3.3 hours for the younger 55-64 age group.

It’s good to think about what you’re going to do with all your time if doing nothing other than watching television all day sounds boring to you.

It’s a long-term decision

Monkey Business/Adobe senior couple reviewing documents at home

You may be motivated to quit now because you’re sick of working. But have you thought about beyond now? If you retire when you’re 50 years old, what does 60 or 70 years old look like to you? 

Have you had time to grow your wealth enough to retire early? Consider the long-term implications of your decision. If being retired for 30 or 40 years sounds scary, then you may want to reconsider your choices.

Bottom line

rh2010/Adobe senior couple working together on laptop

There are plenty of reasons to retire early, but it’s important to consider all factors before taking that leap.

You should also create an estimated retirement budget that includes one-time costs like vacations as well as everyday needs like a mortgage, utilities, and groceries.

And remember the non-financial implications of retiring early. Make sure you have an idea of what to do to keep yourself motivated each day.

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Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.