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Top Ten Reasons to Retire

Updated on October 19, 2010

The State of Retirement Today

Retirement age continues to be pushed back year after, and the length of retirement only grows. The average citizen of the United States retires at age 62 according to the US Census Bureau. This 'early retirement' average is not always voluntary. The length of retirement is also growing, pushing 18 years in length. But why do people retire? Why should they retire? Why might youretire? Here are the top ten reasons.

Top Ten Reasons to Retire:

  1. You can. The top reason for retirement is financial freedom. For many retirees this is enough motivation in itself. Retirement planning builds for decades and makes the assumption that successful retirement planning results in happiness in retirement. As a result, people equate retirement with happiness.
  2. You have to. Unfortunately retirement planning isn't always the driving force behind retirement. For many American retirees they simply cannot keep working. Health issues are higher among minority and lower class workers and can often force people who can least afford to retire into early retirement without sufficient retirement planning.
  3. You want to. Hopefully, rather than #2 being the motive, #3 plays some roll in it. People have varying reasons to want to: flexibility in schedule, relief from stress, end of being supervised or "bossed", time for vacations or hobbies, etc. If you are considering retiring make sure your retirement planning includes motivation. Why do you want to? Make sure you aren't retiring simply because the culture presses it on you.
  4. Your spouse wants to. Many couples hold an ideal part of their retirement plans together. They want to travel together, spend time together, relax together, or volunteer together. As a result if one spouse decides they are done working full time, and they can afford it (number 1) they do. The reverse can affect some people's retirement planning. If the money isn't there, or one spouse doesn't want to retire yet, many couples keep working until they can both afford it, and both want to retire.
  5. You want a different job. Increasing retirement planning isn't about absolute freedom of responsibility. Retirement planning is directed toward a shift in responsibility. Most careers are built upon specialization and experience. Unfortunately many people grow weary of their narrow specialization by the time they reach retirement age. They have always dreamed of owning a little shop, being a baker, working on a farm, or writing. As a result they don't retire from work, they retire to different work. This of course drastically reduces the amount of financial security needed for retirement planning to be successful.


6. You want a different place. Many people retire for a change in scenery. This is most often true in either landlocked locations, or in high population crowded areas. People want to "live on the beach" or "get out of the city." For this reason location is a key part of retirement planning. You want to find the cheapest places to retire if you are going to make the most of your money. That means finding the cheapest place to retire for the kind of place you want to retire. If a beach is a must, then start planning that beach cottage sooner than later. 

7.  You want a different boss. This actually happens for both employees and the self-employeed, though less often for the latter. Employees often chafe under their boss' way of doing things. Many employees feel they have been passed over for promotion for the sake of pet project people and connected but inexperienced workers. As a result, they want out. Some self-employed workers however grow tired of the stress of caring for their own business, the uncertainty of the market, and the burden of supporting the workers they hire. Retirement planning for the self-employed then usually involves a way to sell the business or pass of contracts to others. 

8. You like the idea. Many retirees do not have specific motivation involved in their retirement planning. If you ask them, they may even say "I have always dreamed of retiring early." Asked to give a reason why, they may recount a relative or friend who retired early or give vague reasons. In short some people plan on retiring simply because they like the idea of retiring. It sounds like freedom, happiness, fulfillment, or reward. These retirees frequently return to the workforce either in part time or volunteer positions realizing that number 5 (different job) or number 7 (different boss) are the reasons they most relate to later on. It can be a painful and depressing first year of retirement for these retirees however if their identity was unknowingly wrapped up in work, and a purposeless existence begins to wear. 

9. You want to try it out. It's merely an experiment. You can always do what the number 8 folks do and jump back into working somewhere again, you reason. The reverse of this reason keeps many people from retiring or starting any kind of retirement planning whatsoever. Scared that retirement is the last waypoint before death a few try to avoid the inevitable. If it is simply an experiment, a test, a trial run it makes considering retirement planning and actual retirement much more palatable. Don't like it? Just go back to work. 

10. Unexpected windfall. This is the rarest of the top ten, but is the biggest reason for early retirement. A stock investment soars unexpectedly (think McDonald's in the eighties), a real estate deal falls in the lap, a book sells a million copies, or a business venture grows so rapidly millions are made in the sale. Of course you are saying "must be nice." Well it is, for those few who get the chance. Yet even many of these with an unexpected windfall learn the lesson Ted Leonsis now shares after his unexpected windfall, neither money nor early retirement a happy person make. It comes from something else. 

* See tips on successful retirement planning below or other useful resources around the page for more help with your retirement planning. 

Tips on Retirement Planning

  • Start retirement planning as soon as possible. Consider making an appointment with a financial planner today. 
  • Be sure to calculate cost of living increases and adjust your retirement planning accordingly. 
  • Remember the power of compounding interest and save monthly rather than waiting until the end. 
  • Consider using your retirement freedom to volunteer and give back to the community giving your life purpose and your rest deep satisfaction. 
  • Take time to listen to retirees and hear their feedback on retirement experiences. It may affect how you plan for your own retirement. 


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    • helpingfriends profile image

      helpingfriends 7 years ago from Midwest

      Fantastic post on reasons to retire! One of the best articles I have read on the reasons people use for retirement planning. Thanks for sharing. I would add that many people retire simply because they become unemployed...but I guess that falls under "you have to." Health isn't the only reason. Thanks!