It’s hard for folks to decide when to make the jump into retirement, so I was intrigued by a recent question on earlyretirement.org asking folks if they wish they would have retired earlier or worked a bit longer?
About 65 people answered the question and I tallied the results below (taking out a few responses of people who weren’t retired yet) …
– 36% said they should have RETIRED EARLIER
– 8% said they should have WORKED LONGER
– 56% said the retired at the RIGHT TIME
The results aren’t all that surprising when you look at them, I guess.
There’s a sort of “confirmation bias” to people’s decision making that will cause many of them to say what they actually did was the best choice. Many of them had specific reasons why it worked best: they synced up with when their spouse retired, their kids had just finished college, or their job/business had come to an expected end.
Still, it’s meaningful that 4x as many people wish they had retired earlier than worked later. Hardly anyone wanted to work longer. I’m certainly in that group. If I did it all again, I probably would have left about a year earlier than I did. That whole final year I was anxious to get on to my big FIRE adventure. What held me back was the concern that retiring early might equally be the “smartest or stupidest thing I ever did”.
That’s where a lot of people get caught up in the ‘One More Year’ (OMY) cycle. It’s easy to keep working when you are uncertain. OMY can then stretch out to an extra 3-5-7 years. I know a few people caught up in the OMY loop right now.
In our situation, working OMY wouldn’t have changed our financial situation in a significant way as we were already ‘over saved’ for the lifestyle we wanted. Yet, an earlier retirement would have allowed me an extra year to be home when my son was in high school, which I would have enjoyed a great deal. (I skipped out of work to his nearby school activities a lot anyway!)
Are you happy with how you timed your exit from work?
Image Credit: Pixabay