Retiring early sounds great. You have no boss and with no job, you can fill the day however you want. If you plan to sit on the beach drinking pina coladas, that’s just fine. Golf seven days a week, that’s absolutely your choice. But you might be surprised to hear that retirement may not be what you expect.
The good news is that knowing any potential challenges is the first step to overcoming them, and so in this video, I’ll share some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind in my own early retirement and the discussions I’ve had with people who have been retired for a few years. And with that, let me help you prepare for, and plan for the best retirement possible.
If you’re new to this website, I’m Connor, a very early retiree who chats about earning money, saving money, investing it wisely and planning for your own early retirement. Be sure to check out my other videos for a deep dive into early retirement advice and planning. I’ve spent over 13 years learning and planning to retire early. I did so at the age of 40. Now I put content live here and on my Foundered Money Youtube Channel to help others do the same.
If you want to learn about some of the observations and challenges we all might face in retirement, then please read on.
Money isn’t everything in retirement, if you have enough of it
For many people, retiring early can also bring with it the biggest pay cut you have had in your career. If you don’t plan, save and invest enough, you might not have the retirement you expect. Worrying about money during your career is one thing. Worrying about it, when there is no income stream or no ability to earn more, is another altogether.
A retirement with less money than you need is no way to spend your later years. Always start and plan decades before you hope to retire. If possible, start planning for retirement, the day you start your first job. If you’re a parent reading this, you can help your child retire early with a little bit of planning.
For those of you who have saved hard over your career and retired with enough. Money will be less of a focus. I used to follow the stock market daily. Watching the ebbs and flows of the FTSE 100 and knowing what impact this had was part of my routine. If I check it once a month now, that’s an exaggeration.
During your career, your focus is wholly on accumulating enough money to last the rest of your life. When you stop working and start withdrawing from your retirement accounts, this can be a huge challenge for many retirees. It does take time to adjust to the fact that you are withdrawing money from your savings. Knowing when you have saved enough and having a retirement plan, is critical to preserving wealth and enjoying this time.
You won’t have all the time you think
I often joke that I don’t know where I got the time to work. Honestly, the days merge into weeks and weeks into months. My schedule which was once busy with work, has been filled with other tasks. I take my daughter to school, I make dinner from scratch, I go to the gym daily and I play golf a couple of times per week. These are the priorities I set for my retirement and it’s important that you do the same.
If you think you’ll quit work and figure it out on the other side, the change of routine from fast pace to no pace can be extremely challenging. If work was your life, it will be difficult to replace this with new interests, projects or activities. Because you’ve never had to do it before now. How will you spend your time?
I read online that “Success is getting what you want and happiness is wanting what you get”. Most people need to build the retirement they want before they reach this state of life. Otherwise, there are only so many books you can read, holidays you can go on or rounds of golf you play before you start to bore with it.
This website and my Youtube Channel are my retirement projects. They give me a sense of purpose that allows me to continue to learn and to teach the knowledge I have to a wide range of people. I have no schedule and create new content only when I feel like it. But my 136 subscribers on Youtube drive me forward.
You might lose your identity
For many of us who spend 20, 30 or more years in our careers, our identity can be intrinsically tied to our work. As a business owner, it was my name above the door. And the minute I left the company I founded, I was no longer part of its journey and it was no longer part of mine. That’s the old me, and I’m working hard to define the new me.
Many early retirees I’ve spoken to, note that it can be very difficult to leave the working world behind. Especially when their career has defined them as a person. Doctors, solicitors or indeed those who have devoted their life to their careers, will lose the sense of belonging and being needed. Because when you leave your role behind, make no mistake, you will be replaced immediately.
Knowing what you want from your early retirement is critical to it being a fulfilling experience. You don’t have to leave your identity at the door when you walk out. Are there options to teach, consult or be involved in other areas of your industry? Or do you want to try new things and devote yourself to new challenges? The good news is that you have the opportunity to do whatever you want.
Early retirement can be lonely
It’s Wednesday afternoon and you want a round of golf or a pint in the pub. Well as an early retiree, you can go and do that. But if your friends or family are still working, it might be difficult to fill the time. And when they get off work, their free time is limited, so you’re really at the mercy of their schedule.
Early retirement can be lonely. I’m an introvert and if I’d sat in this studio every day, it would become a very lonely existence. In retirement, I have chosen to take up golf and I play a few times a week. For each of the rounds, I have different partners. Some are retired family members, others are people working relaxed work schedules. A few years ago you might have found it difficult to find someone under 60 on the golf course or tennis court on a Wednesday morning. I can guarantee you that nowadays with more flexible working practices, there is always someone to get a game with. You still need to find these people and put yourself out there though.
Generally speaking, making friends in later life isn’t as easy as it is when you’re younger. However, you will need to look for new social groups and put yourself out there.
You might not like retirement
Let’s be honest here. If you’ve worked for 20 years and suddenly you stop working, then you might not like the slowdown in pace. It might also cause a new homelife dynamic that you’ve never encountered before. There are many reasons why you might not like being retired and some of them we’ve covered already.
I spoke to one early retiree who took up an allotment so that they had their own space. Being thrust into a full-time home life was a challenge for them. This is a new period of your life and it will take some adjusting to. Not just for you but for your partner and family also.
You can continue to work
Retirement is a number, not an age. Let me say that again for the people in the back. Retirement is a number, not an age. For most people, it can happen when you can afford to do so. Just because you’ve reached an age where you’re expected to retire, doesn’t mean you have to. And early retirement can include working. For some people, this may afford them some of the nicer things. For others, it may be a necessity. Working may bring an income with it and that is absolutely fine. It also, may not. As many also choose to volunteer their time in areas that they support or may be in need of certain skills.
This is your retirement and if you choose to continue to work, that is absolutely your choice. If you want to make an income, then there is no one stopping you.
Your costs could increase
Most people expect their costs to go down in retirement. However, if we consider that during our working lives we were generally unable to do things that cost money when we were working. There is now a huge portion of our time that must be filled, and some of this newly acquired time will be filled with tasks and activities that cost money.
Budgeting is the key to building wealth and staying wealthy. It doesn’t stop when you stop working. Maintaining control of your budget will allow you to continue to spend on the things that truly value and ensure you have enough money throughout your early retirement.
Retiring to something
Everything I’ve discussed in this video are challenges I’ve faced or observations I’ve made speaking to other early retirees. Retirement can be one of the most enjoyable experiences in anyone’s life. But for some, it can be the most challenging.
Like anything worth fighting for, retirement needs work and focus. It needs time and preparation for the day and hour you leave work for the last time. Retiring to something is key and knowing that we’re going towards something exciting, not away from work is critical.
Let me know in the comments how your early retirement is going and if you have any advice for other early retirees, please do share it.
Thanks for reading my content, and if you enjoyed it, please feel free to check out my Youtube Channel or share it with someone else.
Have a great day.