I’m am more than a little perplexed at how the media reports on early retirees. Most articles do their best to talk people OUT of saving up to be financially independent and enjoy the rest of their life in retirement.
This article from AARP is no exception. You would think that an organization seeking to represent people in retirement (politically and otherwise) would be a bit more positive, but many of the ‘warnings’ in the article are just ridiculous …
Certainly some of the comments are spot on – that health insurance is expensive or that less time working means less money compounding. Still, many of their points are absolutely insipid …
- First, the article warns that “early retirement isn’t for everyone. In fact, it isn’t for most people.” It cites that few people are able to do it as a reason it is not for most people. Perhaps if AARP’s retirement article was a little more encouraging more people would try.
- Next, it warns that “quitting work can be far different than the fantasy” and that “you might have a long, long life ahead of you” thanks to today’s amazing health care. How is that supposed to be a bad thing? Is it the vision of modern medicine that people might be able to work longer?
- AARP’s #8 is a curious worry … “there’s a lot of time to kill”! Time to kill before what … you’re actually dead? So, it would be better to just sell your time to an employer because you might be bored? Shouldn’t AARP – of all organizations – be offering advice on how people can enjoy their time in retirement in interesting and fulfilling ways?
- Warning #9 is as insipid as any: “You may need to make new friends”. It warns that you won’t have anyone to do things with because everyone you now will still be working. So, these people can’t do things with you anymore? Can you not keep your old friends and ALSO find new ones? ProTip: Having time to make new friends is part of the fun of early retirement!
- The article ends on a obvious warning: “Retirement can be tough on couples”. It’s filled with sad statistics about divorce after age 60. Still, is this an argument that “early retirement isn’t for everyone”? Is it better to keep working than face the reality of your marriage? How does delaying retirement mitigate this risk?
Forgive me if you think I am being too harsh on America’s supposed premier organization for retired people. Still, they provide no solutions for navigating challenging issues other than picturing a binary choice between ‘Retire’ and ‘Work’. More work isn’t the solution to most of these challenges, and I’m thinking they should be spending their time promoting retirement and how best to unlock the promise of independence and enjoyment that comes from it.
Image Credit: AARP