Early Retirement Myths Busted

“Early retirement is just for lazy people.” “I don’t want to save money and retire early, because I’ll be bored.” The two myths above, along with many, many others, are things I often hear people say when they talk about retiring early. I’m not sure why there are so many negative feelings about early retirement, because…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: April 12, 2021

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Early retirement is just for lazy people.”

“I don’t want to save money and retire early, because I’ll be bored.”

Early Retirement Myths Busted - Ignore These & Retire Early! There are many early retirement myths out there. Before you decide to believe them, read this post so that you can retire early.The two myths above, along with many, many others, are things I often hear people say when they talk about retiring early.

I’m not sure why there are so many negative feelings about early retirement, because I personally love the idea of people striving to retire early and not be “normal.”

I mean, just think about it: Don’t you want to retire early, so that you can have the financial freedom to do whatever you want to do?

What’s bad about that?

Whether you want to travel, continue working, spend more time with family, or whatever else, retiring early gives you the ability to choose.

Plus, early retirement can be whatever age you want it to be, it doesn’t have to be that you retire early at age 30. If you are able to retire at age 60, that’s awesome! The point is just to beat the “norm.” 

Sadly, there are many out there, who do not save enough money when preparing for retirement. According to Zacks Investment Research, 72% do not save enough for retirement each month. Also, according to a different survey done by Bankrate.com, 36% of people in the U.S. have absolutely nothing saved for retirement.

Due to the above, I think it’s obvious that more people should make saving for retirement a priority.

While I have not retired early (yet!), it is a goal of mine.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I absolutely love life and my online business. However, I would rather be safe, because you never know what may happen later in life. As you know, I’m a worrier and I would much rather be safe than sorry. Something medically may occur, the industry may change, I may change, and so on.

You just never know what may happen in the future!

To me, having the ability to retire early is all about freedom and flexibility.

This is why others may want to reach early retirement (or financial independence) as well. Reaching early retirement may mean that you have the option to do what you want to do and not feel as bound by your financial situation. You can, therefore, feel free to seek whatever it is in life that you want to seek out.

Related: Reaching Financial Independence IS Possible And Here’s How You Can Do It

Now, I’m not going to automatically assume that extreme early retirement is for everyone. However, the majority of the population does not seem ready for retirement at any age, so to discount early retirees altogether just seems crazy to me.

If you are new to the topic of early retirement, here are three great articles on other websites that I highly recommend:

Below are several early retirement myths I have heard along with why I don’t agree with them.

 

1. Myth – “You can’t have fun, while saving for early retirement.”

Most of you know that this is a myth I despise.

Just because you are saving for retirement aggressively doesn’t mean you are eating Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, this is a myth that is often associated with early retirement.

Sure, a person who seeks early retirement or who has already retired early may be frugal, but I highly doubt that the majority of early retirees live boring and uneventful lives.

There are plenty of ways to have frugal fun, eat on a budget, and so on. You can even see the world, while saving for early retirement, too. We currently live in our RV, while traveling North America (yes, I know that’s not the world), and our budget is the lowest it has ever been.

Remember, the best things in life are free. The outdoors, spending quality time with those you love, laughing, and more are all FREE.

Related: What Is Financial Independence, Retire Early? Answers To FAQs About FIRE

 

2. Myth – “Early retirement is for the lazy.”

Yes, this is a myth I’ve heard as well. I would think that people would have a completely opposite view of those who aim for early retirement, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Those who strive for early retirement are not lazy. I believe early retirees are hard workers who want to live life on their own terms.

 

3. Myth – “A person will be bored if they retire early.”

I don’t know how much fun the average person has while working, but I’m fairly positive that the average person is not in love with their job. Yet, I still hear this myth all the time.

An early retiree isn’t just going to sit around all day. Even if that’s what they want to do, who cares?! That doesn’t mean if you were to retire early that you have to be bored.

You could volunteer, pursue a passion, find fun things to do, take up multiple hobbies, and more with all of the extra time you would have after retiring early.

Heck, you could even continue working, if that’s what you truly desire. Early retirement just gives you choices in case something changes in the future.

 

4. Myth – “You’ll hate your spouse, if you spend all day with them.”

This is a huge myth. I spend all day with my husband, because we work from home, and I can tell you that I don’t hate him (haha!). Plus, we even live in a small RV and I still don’t hate him!

If you do end up getting sick of spending 24/7 with your spouse, you can always find ways to have time to yourself. You could volunteer somewhere, do some solo traveling, go on a daily walk by yourself, and so on.

 

5. Myth – “Early retirees don’t plan for the future.”

This is a weird myth that I hear all the time about early retirees. Many like to assume that early retirees haven’t thought about possible future expenses, such as from having children, health insurance costs rising, inflation, and more.

However, if someone has planned for early retirement, why would they just skip over planning anything else?

A person, who is planning for early retirement, is thinking about these things. While no one’s calculations are going to be exactly correct down to the penny, it is possible to factor in possible future expenses.

 

6. Myth – “Early retirement isn’t possible.”

There are many people out there who don’t believe that early retirement is possible. I believe this has a lot to do with how everyone thinks you should only save 5% of your income so that you can retire between the ages of 65 to 70. However, this is a huge problem, because many people aren’t even saving that amount!

Early retirement IS possible.

By saving enough of your money and living off a designated percentage of your savings or invested income each year after you retire early, you will find that early retirement is possible.

Before throwing the whole idea out, you may want to look into how it may be possible for you.

I recommend checking out the article on Mr. Money Mustache (this blog is a MUST read, if you want to retire early) The 4% Rule: The Easy Answer to “How Much Do I Need for Retirement?”

Here are some articles that may help you save more money, so that you can retire early:

Are you interested in early retirement? Why or why not? When do you think you’ll retire?

 


Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Great post! You can totally be frugal and still have fun, it drives me crazy when I hear people infer that you must not be living your life if you live frugally.

  2. Cash in A Snap

    There are many myths attached with early retirement. Early retirement is possible with good life ahead. If you plan for early retirement you must be aware of the financial consequences and sure about how much savings you have to sustain.

    1. Are you preparing for early retirement?

      P.S. For future comments, please leave your real name.

  3. I’ve just written about this! We’ve decided that although we still want financial freedom, chasing early retirement is no longer the focus. Mainly because we’d have to give up travelling overseas every year in order to save our big pot of cash to retire on. Instead, we are building a location independent business and my husband will likely work a traditional job when we are at home – perhaps taking 6-9 month contracts. This plan excites me as much as the initial idea of early retirement did, so I think it’s an acceptable alternative.
    That said, it is totally possible for people to retire early if they put their minds to it – and start young! The younger the better.

    1. When do you think you’ll retire?

      1. I guess it’ll still be earlier than the traditional age – I’d like to be able to give up work completely if I want to when my youngest finishes high school, so perhaps mid-fifties.

        1. That’s still early to me πŸ™‚

          1. Haha, I guess it is! I’m just so used to reading about extreme early retirement that 55 seems old πŸ™‚

            1. Haha 55 is awesome! We meet people all the time now that we’re RVing who have just retired at around age 55-60 and it’s so awesome! That’s still a lot earlier than the norm.

  4. Jef

    Definitely interested in early retirement although I feel the term “retirement” probably needs to be changed to something like financial freedom.. I’m interested because for me there’s so much out there to see and do and help out in the world :).. Not sure I’ll ever retire, it’ll be a case of working on new and exciting products

    1. To me, early retirement can still mean that you’re working. To me, it just means that you have the option to stop working if you wanted or needed to πŸ™‚

  5. I would love to hear more about your RV living. Do you have plans to post about your travels?

    1. Yes, I really need to do more posts on RVing but I’m always afraid to leave people out who aren’t interested. You can read some of my other RVing posts here – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/tag/rv

  6. I was skeptical about early retirement when I first heard about it, but now I love the idea of increasing our flexibility. And no one with the drive to retire early is going to stop being productive or creative for the rest of their life!

  7. We should be able to retire fairly early – in our mid 40s. I’m not sure we’ll quit working altogether, but it will be nice to have that option. I can see us scaling back our work and putting in part-time hours at a certain point. I don’t get it at all when people say retirement will be “boring.” I can think of a million fun ways to fill my days!

    1. Yes, same here. I don’t see myself ever not working, but I know that life can change things in an instant so I would much rather be prepared.

  8. I never understand the being bored part. I have never lacked ways to keep myself occupied. Hoping by 40! But 35 is my more aggressive goal πŸ™‚

    1. Haha, I know! I don’t think I’ll be bored.

  9. I’m SO focused on getting out of student loan debt right now, that I rarely think about retirement! Once I’m out of debt, my mind will shift to the investing and retirement focus, but for now, it’s just not there. Although I still enjoy learning about it and reading about it!! πŸ™‚

    1. I was the same way. It’s definitely hard to think about retirement when you have student loans.

  10. Sarah

    Great post! Sadly we haven’t really thought about retirement (and we’re already 30!). We’re more focused on getting out of debt (almost there!). I think a lot of myths come from people who either a) don’t want to work towards it and are finding excuses or b) trying to rationalize why they won’t work for it.

  11. Stockbeard

    β€œEarly retirees don’t plan for the future.”
    Ha.If anything, Early Retirees (or people planning to RE) are the kind of people who over-plan for the future. We have to be the only people who run 10 possible futures for our lives on a spreadsheet. People who don’t plan to retire early are in my opinion the ones who are not planning ahead πŸ™‚

    1. I agree! These myth drives me crazy.

  12. The one I hear the most is definitely “I’d be so bored”. I don’t know why people think that retirement means you sit and do nothing all day! To me, it just means that I have options if I could retire early. I can work if I want or I can change jobs with less stress. I have the freedom to fill my time with meaningful activities! I’d love to retire early!

    1. Yes! It’s so weird. I was always extremely bored at my day job – now, that was BORING!

  13. We definitely want to do early retirement, in our case doing jobs that pay less but don’t have full-time commitments like a regular. As long as we can save money & pay for insurance, that’s the two big contingencies. We will be debt-free in 10 years when our house is paid off & hopefully can “retire” after that when we are both closer to 40.

  14. My father seems pretty bored. I wish he had a retirement job so he’d stop emailing so much. Volunteering and having a dog just don’t take enough of his time.

    I’m totally on board with financial independence, but I don’t see myself retiring any time soon. I like my job which is not boring. My husband likes his job which is also not boring. And I like financial remuneration and benefits and being able to pay to not do things I don’t enjoy. One of the benefits of having a high skilled job is that the quality of the jobs and availability of jobs is much higher.

    1. I agree with what you’re saying, but I think reaching financial freedom and early retirement is also great because you never know what may happen in the future. Plus, you can always continue working.

  15. Great post packed with truth! With the value of compound interest + time anyone can retire wealthy. Retiring early means choices and thus freedom. It’s hard to object to either of those!

  16. Great stuff on breaking up the myths. You can retire early and still have lots of fun. If your idea of retirement is sitting in front of TV and doing nothing all day, then early retirement is probably not for you. πŸ™‚

  17. Jack @JackCanuck

    Would like some insight about early retirement and defined benefit pension plans. I feel lucky to have a pension but feel like I am stuck working until 62 just to collect it. I am looking at 17 years of toil when I would rather opt for beach life.

    1. Sorry, I don’t know much about pensions. Hopefully someone here will comment and help you out πŸ™‚

      1. My wife has a pension for her teacher retirement. We try to forget that it’s even there and put the majority of our savings into index funds/IRAs because we can access them early. Pensions really suck because you typically receive a reduced payout if taken early, plus you have no control over your contributions…

  18. Maybe we need to change the term from ‘early retirement’ to… I don’t know, dream fulfillment or something similar that focuses on what you’re actually doing? So many people picture retirement as spending your day pottering around looking for things to fill the time rather than getting out there and doing what you’ve always wanted to do.

    I can’t wait to retire!

    1. Yes! When do you think you’ll retire?

      1. Well… I’ve already missed the ‘early’ bit but I’m working on semi-retirement which is what it feels like now that I’m working on my own projects rather than someone else’s.

        I don’t know that I’ll ever truly retire as I think I’ll always want to be doing something that adds value to the world – mine and others’. It’s all about mindset, I guess.

        My only regret is not taking the leap and starting earlier! πŸ™‚

          1. Indeed! At least I’ve started, right? πŸ™‚

  19. I absolutely can not wait for an early retirement if possible. Unfortunately I have about 35 more years to go. A retiree gave me a good piece of advice to stay active before and after retiring. The health and mental benefits from exercising keeps the mind sane and away from early alzheimers!

    1. Is there any chance you could retire earlier?

      1. I don’t believe there would be a chance. I definitely did not invest enough in my retirement plans when I jumped to self-employment. Maybe that’d be a post idea? I love to know how you are savings towards your retirement plans when you started blogging full time. Thanks!

  20. Weird, I’ve never heard the “early retirees are lazy” or that they don’t plan for the future. Those are ludicrous based on the very premise of early retirement. You have to work hard, and you’re *planning* to save enough money to not have to work. So… whaaaaa?

    Early retirement isn’t really for me, even if it were a possibility. Given our expenses, even with our healthy income, we simply can’t put away enough. It’s going to be a struggle to retire at all.

    That said, I am one of those people who does think she’d be bored in early retirement. We can’t travel all that much because of health issues, and I’ve been on disability: There are a lot of hours to fill each day.

    Still, getting rid of the stress of work definitely makes it an appealing concept!

    1. Ha, try reading the comments on some of the articles I listed in this post. You’ll see what people have to say about early retirees πŸ™‚

  21. While I don’t really believe any of these myths because of my long involvement with the PF blogosphere, I do think I come closest to believing 1 and 3 for myself and my husband, which is a bit why I’m not pursuing (particularly) early retirement. We’ve found work that we enjoy, even if it doesn’t pay six figures or more, and I think we’ll be happy doing it or some other kind of work for quite a while. The boredom argument is why I prefer the term financial independence to early retirement because really you can continue to work if you want to after you don’t need to work any longer. Also, I think we just want a rather expensive life (home ownership in a high cost of living area, kids, middle class lifestyle)!

    Some time ago I wrote about why I wasn’t pursuing early retirement (http://evolvingpf.com/2013/06/early-retirement-isnt-for-us/), and one of my commenters corrected me in a way I really liked. He said I AM pursuing financial independence, but I’m just doing it on my own terms instead of the common terms you read on the PF blogosphere. Financial independence will occur for us at some point, but we’re not spending a lot of time concentrating on when it will be or hurrying the date.

    1. Yes, I prefer the term financial independence as well πŸ™‚

  22. I love how people think you’re lazy if you don’t work 40+ hours per week until age 65. If I quit work for good tomorrow, I can think of a ton of ways to spend my time, none of which involve laziness. I think we could go all in and retire in a few years, but in all reality, we will probably work another 10 years or so. Everyone tells me you’ll want to keep working until your kid(s) are finished with college, but that also might just be another myth that needs to be busted.

    1. Yeah, I don’t get the lazy myth at all.

  23. Kimsea@ BlogMarketingSea

    I knew every people want to retire earlier, but I don’t think that all good…

    Maybe those people ain’t lazy, but they want to have more time for enjoying their life. I also the same to those people, before..

    You know..? I used to be a jobless for almost 3 years, but I own my income from blogging… I don’t to work, but just getup at 9am and enjoy my time at coffee shop.

    Life so routine to me, I don’t have much works are wait for me but blogging. I feel like I’m being a lazy person.

    I started my again last as Human resource Manager, and I found that life is better. I meet lots of people who are my coworkers. They made me smile almost all the time..

    That nice working place…

    That’s no matter you’re retire or not but if you enjoy your life, I think that it was great…

    1. Haha, I love blogging, though!

  24. You could always continue working πŸ™‚

  25. Cindy Brooks

    I retired on my 50th birthday and have zero regrets (I just turned 60 so it’s been 10 years)!

  26. I am going to retire early and have a blast! Cant wait!

    I do agree that the term “retirement” needs a facelift. Financially free has a much more positive effect on it as it implies being able to do whatever you want which is pretty much retirement if done properly.

    1. Yes, I like that term more too!

  27. Kathy

    I think people who believe these myths are simply jealous, or they know they will never be able to retire so the have a need to justify why they can’t. My husband and I retired together at age 55 and 53 respectively, 10 years ago and have never regretted it for an instant. When we retired people said “but you’re so young” to which I replied, “that’s the whole point. Great post.

  28. I can’t believe there are people who would ever see early retirement as something they don’t want. That’s crazy to me in itself, because to me it’s the difference between having to work and working if you want to. Once you retire it doesn’t mean you can never ever work again!! I’d love to be done with the grind, but pretty sure I’m not on the path for that and will probably be working into my 70’s. Boo hoo!!!!!

    1. Yeah, I think it’s crazy too!

  29. Norman

    Perhaps financial freedom or financial independence would be a more captivating term instead of early retirement? I totally agree with everything you said. I just think that most people don’t even think about a)saving for retirement and b)believing they can retire early. I think a shift in mindset can really change people’s beliefs about those myths and empower them to achieve financial independence.

  30. Retirement is not only for people who worked 30 or 40 year careers but also for people who ran their own businesses. Retirement has no age cap on it.

  31. ‘you have the option to do what you want to do and not feel as bound by your financial situation’ –

    I tried early retirement for one year and the isolation was too much to bear. Plus, going from 100 to 0 was very hard to get used too…I realized that I just needed to pursue on interest based work..on my own terms!

  32. Dane Hinson

    I’ve heard all of these myths from either current retirees or those planning for early retirement. At the end of the day, retirement should afford you the time to do what YOU want. That’s the beauty of it. So for all of the concerns or reservations about what’s on the other side… you’ll have the time and availability to determine what you want to do each and every day!

  33. “The point is just to beat the β€œnorm.” <—- I respectfully disagree. The point is to do what allows you to get the most enjoyment out of life. Even if I achieved total financial freedom by saving, winning the lottery, or whatever…..I'd show up for work the next day. Why? Because I absolutely LOVE my career. If I quit my job, I'd be looking for something cutting edge in the technology field that stimulates my brain. OR….I could just not quit my job!

    1. Ha, I think we are actually talking about the same thing. πŸ™‚ This is exactly what I said in the post and I definitely agree with you. I was referring to something else when I said “the point.”

  34. Amy @ DebtGal

    We’re still paying off debt, so retirement isn’t in the near-future.

    To me, early retirement simly means freedom and flexibility, and that sounds pretty darn appealing!

  35. Lindsey

    God what I wouldn’t give for an early retirement lol. But at the same time I know that I might be okay pushing my retirement if I was more happy with my job. I know a lot of people save traveling the world for when they’re older but I want to be able to go and see everything while I’m young! If you’re shelling out a couple thousand dollars to travel how are you supposed to retire early?

  36. […] The original post is located here:Β https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2016/01/early-retirement-myths-busted.html […]

  37. Who would want to retire in online marketing and side hustling their way to “side hustle millionaire” status? It’s not time to get lazy when a person becomes a [side hustle millionaire]. That’s the time to quit their day job if they have one and or NEVER go back to working for any daytime employer again and rely solely on making the “online side hustle affiliate marketing” work for you full-time, whereas your “affiliate side hustle millionaire business” is making money for you 24 hours a day. πŸ™‚

  38. Adam Wolfson

    Great post Michelle
    What most people don’t realize is that retirement is not a case of “sit at home and get bored”. It’s a case of being able to pursue the interests, hobbies and activities that you wish to without having a noose around your neck that ties you to a regular 9 to 5 job.

    I spent over 30 years in my own financial planning business – with a strong focus on retirement planning before I started to blog about it and it’s saddening to see the sheer plethora of misguided information on the internet.

    I wish more people would see the benefit of an online business as a means to build serious passive income streams, which could supplement one’s retirement savings, enabling people to start enjoying a rich life an retirement.

    Again, great post!

  39. Bruce

    Just retired at 53. I’ve studied my early retirement since the early 90’s before it became a buzz word. What kills me are the countless miss information articles about it and how much one needs to successfully pull it off. I’ve read some articles that say for a $60k per year income, you need $3 – 5 million saved and others say 25 times your last income. While there is no crystal ball, it’s best to tune out all the naysayers, apply the math and enjoy!

  40. Retirement Finance

    I love this! There are a lot of myths out there about early retirement. I too plan to retire early, but sometimes I do worry I won’t have enough saved, or that I will get bored. I know that Myth 3 is a real myth, but I know for me personally, that is the case. I do love what I do, but I realize that I’m the minority there, and that not many other people can relate. I also realize at some point I won’t be able to keep up with a 40 hour work week no matter how much I want. One comment mentioned semi-retirement earlier. I’ve read a few things online about it. Honestly, I feel like that’s my best plan for early retirement.