Article Summary – Don’t Retire Early – Change Careers Instead

Source: Don’t Retire Early – Change Careers Instead
Author: Jean Folger


There are many who dream of taking early retirement to then go on to lead a life they have always wanted.  However, in her article “Don’t Retire Early- Change Careers Instead”, author Jean Folger says the new lifestyle may not always live up to its expectations—and it could come with some heavy costs. Instead the author suggests several considerations to make while also offering alternatives that may produce the happiness and fulfillment being sought.

While many people have differing opinions on what constitutes early retirement, the author defines it as retiring before the full retirement age of 65 if you were born before 1960 and age 67 if born 1960 and after.

While some have no choice to retire early due to a layoff, long-term illness or caring for a loved one, others seek to retire early in order to go on to lead a happy and fulfilling life path.  However, the author suggests that there are other ways to find happiness and fulfillment without having to retire early. Her conclusion suggests instead choosing a mid-life career change to find happiness and fulfillment because early retirement could be costly.

Outlined below are several points the author brings up to consider before taking early retirement. Her argument is that early retirement will cause the following challenges:

  • The need for more assets in order to sustain you for more years without income.
  • Reduced social security payment amounts. While one is eligible at age 62 to begin taking retirement from social security, it would a permanently reduced amount. Waiting until a later age of 67 to 70 years old would permanently increase the monthly payments.
  • Early withdrawals from a retirement account such as an IRA, 401(k) or 4013(b) will be subject to a penalty fee of 10% plus regular income taxes if withdrawn before the age of 59.5.
  • With the extra time now available, will there be enough interests, hobbies and pastimes to contribute to a fulfilling life?
  • Since the workplace often holds the primary social outlet for many, will there be adequate and regular human interaction to make life enjoyable and fulfilling?
  • Some retirees may feel lost in identity without the job title or being able to explain what they do now with their time.

A suggestion made by the author is that, instead of full retirement, the benefits of changing careers to include your skill set combined with your interests will create employment, income, satisfaction, savings and work that is rewarding and fulfilling—even if it is accomplished by starting a new business. Kauffman Foundation reports that the ages of 55-64 age groups have the highest rate of entrepreneurship and that people over 55 are twice as likely to establish successful companies.

The author sets for the idea that when considering early retirement in order to find a more fulfilling and happy life, consider instead a changing to a different career, side-job or startup which combines both your experience and existing skills with your innate interests and dreams.  Both together will give you a purpose for which to strive, keep your interests engaged while maintaining a financially sound future.