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Why Retiring at 65 is a Terrible Idea

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Why Retiring at 65 is a Terrible IdeaSome people say 65 is the new 45. That is true in some aspects. In the not too distant past, a 45 year old man would be lucky to live 20 more years. Now, the average life expectancy is higher and many 65 year old Americans will live beyond 85. If you look at it that way, then 65 does sounds like the new 45. However, life expectancy doesn’t tell the whole story. 65 may be the new 45, but 70 is still 70. That’s why I think it’s a terrible idea to retire at 65. You won’t have a lot of time left to enjoy a carefree retirement. Sure, there might be 20+ years left, but those years from 70 to 85 will be much different than 65 to 70.

70 is still 70

I’m venting a bit today because I see that many experts discourage retiring at 65. You can Google it and you’d see that most mainstream writers encourage people to work longer. Most people haven’t saved that much for retirement and they would benefit from working a few more years. That’s true for most people, but it doesn’t make sense for me.

Have any of these experts spent extended time with seniors who are over 70 years old? There are a lot of issues to deal with when you’re older. My mom lives with us half of the year and she changed a lot over the last few years as she approached the big Seven Oh. I’m helping her with various issues and it’s a bit frustrating.

Grandma RB40

Grandma RB40 will be 70 years old next year and she is relatively healthy. Right now, it’s not a huge burden to help her out and I occasionally visit the doctor, dentist, and optometrist with her. Luckily, I have time during the day so these appointments aren’t a big deal. Even with relatively good health, she visits various healthcare providers a few times per month. They keep finding something new and they always want to run a few more tests.

New pills

A couple of months ago, her doctor found that her bone is starting to get less dense. That’s the beginning of osteoporosis so they wanted her to take a new medicine. However, Grandma RB40 doesn’t really want to take any new pills. Nobody likes a new pill, right? She debated and consulted everyone she knows. It seems like she talked about this new medicine every day for a month. She read the small print on the medicine leaflet from the doctor and went over it obsessively. Here are just some of her questions.

  • What are the side effects?
  • How do you take it?
  • What’s the name of the medicine and who makes it?
  • Do you have to dissolve the pill?
  • What happens if you decline the new medicine?
  • Do I have to take it?
  • Etc…

It drove me nuts. I didn’t want to hear about this new med anymore. If the doctor said take it, then just take it. (I also checked with my brother who is a doctor and he said she should take this.) She worried ceaselessly about the side effects, too. Personally, I don’t worry about side effects too much. I’d deal with the side effects if there is a problem. It took about a month of debating, but she finally relented and let the doctor prescribe the new medicine. Sometimes I wonder how she made any decisions when she was younger. The endless debates were exasperating. Now, I think this is due to old age. She hasn’t always been this way. When she was younger, she was capable of making decisions quickly and logically. Old age just slows you down.

More questions

I was hoping the questions would stop after she got the medicine, but that’s not the case. This medicine is a bit different. You take it once per week on an empty stomach and you have to remain upright for 30 minutes. No food for about an hour. That’s simple enough instruction, but she had a hard time with this. There were more questions.

  • What day should I take the medicine?
  • What happens if I forgot to take a pill?
  • Can I chew the pill?
  • When do I take my other pills?
  • How much water do I drink?
  • Help me set the alarm to take the new pill.
  • Holy moly…

It’s not that complicated, but I had to hold her hand through this new process. To me, it seems easy. Just do pretty much everything the same except take the medicine on Saturday morning. But, to her, it’s a big disruption to the routine. Man, her mental processing really isn’t working optimally anymore. I asked the doctor to screen her for dementia and Alzheimer’s last year and those weren’t the issue. I guess it’s just old age.

Yet more issues

Yesterday, Grandma RB40 told me she noticed a growth on the roof of her mouth. I took a look and it’s disconcerting. There was a growth about the size of a very large almond on the roof of her mouth. It feels hard to touch and she never noticed it before. I sent her off to see the doctor because I had to meet RB40Jr at the school bus stop. Later on, the nurse called me and told me it was Torus Palatinus. This is calcified tissue on the roof of the mouth, which would only be removed if problematic. They asked us to check with her dentist to see if it has always been there. I called and yes, it has always been there. She just never noticed it before.

Earlier today, she asked if she should continue to take her calcium, vitamin D, and the new meds. I told her to continue because it doesn’t have anything to do with the torus. Hopefully, that’s the end of the questions for a while. It’s frustrating to me because these are easy questions that she should be able to work out herself. My underlying fear is that I’d have similar problem as I get older. Will RB40Jr have to help me with my pills? Ugh! I don’t like the sound of that at all. (I know it must be frustrating for my mom too.)

Early retirement is better

It’s not just Grandma RB40 that changed as she got older. My dad, Mrs. RB40’s parents, and my brothers’ in-laws have slowed down quite a bit, too. None of them want to travel anymore and health is becoming a bigger issue for everyone. They were all pretty good at 65, but 70 is a different story. People aged a lot in just five years.

After seeing this, I definitely wouldn’t want to retire at 65. There would be just a few years to enjoy the things I want to do. I want to travel around the world, take up new hobbies like wood working, paddle board surfing, and do other fun stuff. Once I’m 70, then I’d probably prefer to stay home and deal with local issues too.

Luckily, I retired from my engineering career 5 years ago and life has been very good. Well, we’d be freer when Mrs. RB40 retires too. Her target is 2020 so it’s coming up soon. We’ll enjoy our early retirement and then settle down for a slower full retirement later on. So if you do it, I recommend retiring early. Working until you’re 65 is a terrible idea.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to put off retirement? Are your older relatives having an exciting retirement?

{ 89 comments… add one }
  • Ember @ An Intentional Lifestyle October 19, 2017, 3:18 am

    I agree that earlier is definitely better. My parents are in their low 50s, but my in-laws are edging up towards 70 and you are right. My MIL has had back to back health issues for the last year and it has been both tough and frustrating (although even more for her). I do think how active a person is is a huge factor though. My grandmother is 81 and she can do more than my in-laws, because she hasn’t ever stopped. When you stop doing, you stop living and you get old, fast.

    This is also why I think having kids when you’re younger is a big deal. Then they are old enough to know how to take care of us if that time comes. And if you have more than one, it helps your kids have less of the burden of your care (In theory. My parents are the sole caregivers for my grandmother.)

    Aging is tough, and there are things you can definitely do to make it easier on your family. But all in all, retiring at 65 is definitely a bad idea. Fully agree.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 8:26 am

      You never how healthy you’re going to be when you’re older. Some people age much better than others. I guess we can look at our parents and see how they cope with old age. That’s why I need to retire early. My parents are not spry at 70.

      • Damn Millennial October 19, 2017, 10:04 pm

        I would argue that finding something that you can be passionate about instead of retiring would be the best move possible. Retiring from a typical career that is most likely high stress is a great idea, but move towards something else fulfilling. Mental health is an important part of the equation as well.

      • Mr. Tako October 20, 2017, 8:53 pm

        My parents are the same Joe. They were fine and still very active after 65, but once they hit 70 things really started going downhill.

        My father just hit 72 and he’s starting to have trouble walking. It’s all downhill once you can’t walk around and be physically active.

        Only 5 good years of retirement after 40+ years of working sounds like a poor tradeoff. I prefer my route (retiring at 38).

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance October 19, 2017, 3:28 am

    I am sorry to hear about the health issues Grandma RB40 is going through. It must be frustrating for her to go through so much at an age when she’s supposed to retire and enjoy her time with family.

    But I can also see how frustrating it is for you to guide her through every step of the whole process and still have to answer so many questions many of which may not be necessary.

    My parents are not 60 yet, but they have also changed a lot over the years. When I visit them, it’d be good for 2 weeks. After that, I’d feel like I need to get out of the house and live by myself, otherwise I’d drive myself crazy. My parents live with my grandparents (they are almost 85), and they two have a lot of problems.

    I think this all goes to show that you’re a good son. And I’m sure deep down your mother appreciates all the help she gets from you and your wife. And I agree we don’t have to retire at 65 if we can gain FI earlier. Hang in there! ?

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 8:27 am

      I think she is pretty healthy in general. There are some health issues, but nothing serious yet. Other people her age has Parkinson’s and Alzheimer. Those are a lot tougher.

  • Lily @ The Frugal Gene October 19, 2017, 3:31 am

    Not going to lie, the part with Grandma RB40 was pretty painful to read as I’m sure that that would be me in less than a decade or so with my parents. Holy moly is right, my mom likes to second guess every doctor and go for her crazy Eastern medicine of praying it away instead.

    Didn’t they bump the age to 66 recently?

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 8:28 am

      It’s tough to talk with retired parents. They don’t have a lot to do and they tend to focus on the health issue. There is only so much you can talk about. Good luck with your parents…

  • Caroline October 19, 2017, 3:32 am

    So true Joe, I have seen so many co-workers work to 65 +, mainly for the extra money, and as soon as they stop working it’s like their body is falling apart! If you can’t retire early then at least make sure you take lots of vacation while you are healthy enough to travel.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 9:58 am

      I agree. Everyone should occasionally takes 6 to 12 months off to travel and see the world. It’s not advisable to wait until 65.

  • Javiso Volari October 19, 2017, 3:52 am

    I absolutely agree! You are spot on! You slow down the older you get. Fact. 70 is 70. I am 52 and don’t have the energy I once did at 40. My parents are 75 and have been retired fro 20 years and enjoying life. They have slowed down considerably over the last 20 years. Enjoy your money, health and retirement as soon as you can!!!

    Thank you for this!!!

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:00 am

      Thanks for sharing. It’s pretty crazy how certain stretch of 5 years changes a person. One of our neighbors went from normal to a retirement home due to Alzheimer. You have got to enjoy life while you’re healthy.

  • Wes October 19, 2017, 4:00 am

    I know that it must be frustrating but I think that it is good to see GrandmaRB40 questioning the conventional wisdom of the day that being if the doctor says do it just do it. Perhaps, that’s a small part of where your drive to buck the system came from and subsequently retired early, from GrandmaRB40?

    After all not too long ago cigarettes were supposed to be harmless.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:01 am

      You’re right, but it’s frustrating to talk about it everyday. Gets old…
      She just asked me what she needs to do when the new pills run out. Does she have to go see the doctor? No… what do you do when your other pills run out? Just go to the pharmacy.

  • [email protected] October 19, 2017, 4:36 am

    I see a lot of what you are saying with my parents too. And even though they manage – it definitely gets worse every year (they are 78 and 86). Retiring at 65 or older from full-time work sounds like a terrible idea to me. But I can see part-time work being helpful for many people as they age – especially if the job is meaningful to them and somewhat flexible. But it would be much better if it was by choice and not necessity. Some work (or volunteering) can help keep them focused on issues other than their health all day too.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:02 am

      Thanks for sharing. I think part time work is really helpful as well. You have more time for yourself and you still need to keep your mind active. I definitely don’t want to work full time in my 60s.

  • [email protected] October 19, 2017, 5:06 am

    I hope that I work until I’m 120. That would mean that I’m still functioning as I get older. The key is that I want to work because I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I never want to work because I need the money. We are trying to have all our needs covered ASAP!

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:03 am

      Let me know if you feel the same when you’re 120. 🙂 I see your point, though. Part time work would be very good. Full time work would be really tough when you’re older. Seniors have a lot of issues.

  • The Grounded Engineer October 19, 2017, 5:16 am

    Sorry to hear about your mom. My grandma’s health has been deteriorating over the last 10 years and she really can’t do much other than sit in her apartment all day. She has trouble breathing and needs an added supply of oxygen all the time.

    I agree with you that the idea of working until 65 is a terrible idea. I don’t plan to work that long at all. I’ve been running a few simulations to see if age 40 is achievable. The biggest thing for me will be how well the market performs over the next 10 years. I don’t plan to time the market, but to continue plowing money into my investments. But if the market were to tank, it would add a few years… Also, if the market tanks, I’m prepared to dump a significant amount of cash into the market to hopefully realize some mega returns 🙂

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:04 am

      That’s tough. How old is your grandma. That stage of life doesn’t sound like much fun. It’d be much better if we could live longer and stay active. Nobody wants to sit around all day.

  • WealthyDoc October 19, 2017, 5:22 am

    You make some good points. My thinking keeps changing. Currently I think it is best to create a life from which you won’t want to retire. If you can “semi-retire”, work “part-time” or enjoy a “victory lap” you may still have time and money to travel before advanced age sets in. I do agree that we shouldn’t put our fun on hold until our advanced years since we can’t predict our health or how long we will live.
    My father developed Parkinson’s Disease in his 70’s and that was devastating. That strikes fear in me and I don’t want to put things off until that decade. My mother and my in-laws are doing very well in their 70’s though. My in-laws have a busy schedule with hobbies, friends, and international travel in their mid to late 70’s. They have no regrets about working until the traditional age and they are enjoying retirement.
    Why do you need to attend the appointments with your mother? My mother is always going to dentists and doctors, but she goes by herself? Maybe your Mom does have some cognitive decline? Maybe a “neuropsych” test would help?
    Finally, I agree it can be exasperating but it is okay to question the doctor. Sometimes the doctors mean well but aren’t recommending optimal treatment. In this case, the medicine is indicated in osteoporosis. With osteopenia it may be needed but only if her hip fracture risk is>3% for the next 10 years. Few doctors take the time to enter the data to be sure it is needed. You can do it yourself though here: https://sheffield.ac.uk/FRAX/tool.aspx?country=9
    If she does need it, it may need to be stopped in 10 years or so as to not increase atypical hip fractures – something not known or not followed by many prescribing physicians.

    • snowcanyon October 19, 2017, 6:55 am

      That level of cognitive decline at 70 is not usual! I agree she needs neuropsych testing or an evaluation by a geriatrician. Many 70 year olds are mountain biking, skiing, and living really fulfilling lives. Not everyone is capable of that, certainly, but it’s concerning she has so many issues so young.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:09 am

      That’s exactly how I feel too. Part time work is great for seniors.
      Sorry to hear about your father. Parkinson’s Disease is really tough for everyone in the family. My brother’s FIL has that.
      Sometime I need to attend the appointments because she needs help making decisions. She can’t make decisions on her own anymore. Also I need to stay update on her health. I’ll read up on neuropsych. She is just a lot slower than before.
      Thanks for your comment about osteoporosis. I’ll read up on it more. She has fallen a few times, but no broken bones, thankfully.

  • Mrs. Picky Pincher October 19, 2017, 5:36 am

    I can’t even fathom why you’d want to retire at 65, let alone 70 or later. I want to retire when my body is still in decent enough shape that I can enjoy my life. What good is it to be retired if you’re home-bound because of infirmity?

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:10 am

      Right. At that point, money isn’t going to make much of a difference in your quality of life.

  • Money Beagle October 19, 2017, 5:54 am

    I’m sure most people would love to retire before the age of 65 but may have financial constraints for doing so, especially if they raised kids and incurred costs and sacrified income along the way (which isn’t the case for all parents, but definitely a majority).

    Wishing grandma the best.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:11 am

      Kids are pretty expensive. That’s why we only have 1. Well, one of the reasons anyway. It is tough to save when you have kids.

  • adumbby October 19, 2017, 5:58 am

    I think she’s correct in asking some of these questions. If she’s on multiple meds, sometimes they do conflict and the doctors themselves don’t even catch that. Seems your patience with her is growing thin.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:12 am

      Her doctor is pretty good and she checked that. She is also my primary care physician so I trust her.
      You’re right about patience, though. I’m not very patience and talking about this everyday drives me nuts. It’s just too much on the same subject.

  • Pennypincher October 19, 2017, 6:05 am

    I say anything goes after 60=you never know how much time you have left/or what’s around the corner.
    Dr.s always finding new reasons to push the meds. Same old story. I wonder if your mom took up more walking and weight training, if she could avoid meds? Staying physical is key.
    I know 70 year old’s that look 50! Why? They stay active any way they can AND enjoy their life. Hanging around young(er) people helps too.
    Sad if you must work in your 70’s, unless you love it. Save and compound that money early folks!

    • snowcanyon October 19, 2017, 6:30 am

      Actually, that’s not true. Patients often want medications and don’t want to exercise or work out.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:14 am

      She walks more than me and she is doing a little weight training. She avoided the meds so far, but the doctor is recommending it now.
      My mom would look 50 is she dyes her hair. Her brain function really slowed down a ton over the last 10 years, though. It’s hard.

  • Mr. Freaky Frugal October 19, 2017, 6:06 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I FIREd at 52 (now 57) and I wish I’d done it even sooner. I’m envious of people that did it in their thirties and forties.

    I hate those stupid articles about working until you’re 70. What a Wage Slave life – just keep working until you can barely walk, see, hear, and think. Then you can put “He worked hard!” on his tombstone.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:16 am

      Great! I’m sure you’re enjoying life to the fullest now. You’re still young and can do everything you want. I retired earlier, but still a bit stuck because of the kid. Once our kid is done with high school, then I’d be able to do pretty much anything I want. 🙂

  • Tom October 19, 2017, 6:26 am

    Wow Joe, there is a lot here. I have an 89 year old parent who does quite well, but struggles with the ongoing physical and mental effects of aging. It’s tough to watch. I’m in the never retire camp, but get to a level of financial independence where you can do what you want.
    Both my wife and I are onto second careers that we enjoy after 25+ years in Corporate America and have little interest in fully retiring. Of course, it’s a very personal choice with no completely right or wrong answer. Tom

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:17 am

      Thanks for sharing. I think working on something you like is a great as well. Do you have enough time to do all the things you want to do? Second careers are great, but I think going part time is even better. 😉

  • snowcanyon October 19, 2017, 6:28 am

    Woah! My 86 year old parents have slowed down, but they are still crazy active. At 70? They worked until they were nearly 80, at jobs they loved. Genes make all the difference, I guess. Exercise, exercise to stay young.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:19 am

      Yeap, good genetic is the key. That’s why I know I gotta enjoy life now. My parents aren’t aging very well and they are just 70. I’m trying to stay active with exercise and reading, but you never know…

  • Mike Drak October 19, 2017, 6:30 am

    Joe, my mother currently lives in a nursing home and I know exactly what you are going through. I believe people should set a goal to achieve FI as early as possible, but I don’t believe that they should use it as an escape from ever working again. Work has been given a bad rap probably because most people are stressed out and working at something that they don’t like to do. When you have FI you are free to choose “good work,” work that is fulfilling, work that gives you a good reason to get out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face. You know you are on track when the line between work and play becomes blurry like it is now for me. I plan on never retiring from doing the things that I enjoy but one day it will happen.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:38 am

      I agree with you 100%. Working on something you like is a way to stay young. Unfortunately, working for most people means doing something they don’t like. Part time self employment is the way to go in retirement. It keeps you engage and exercise your brain. Keep at it!

  • Dave @ Married with Money October 19, 2017, 6:49 am

    My parents are 64ish? (I’m a horrible son, no idea how old my parents are off the top of my head bahahah) and they’re still working. It scares me a little bit to be honest; in addition to knowing they aren’t 100% prepared for retirement, I know they both aren’t as healthy as they wish they were.

    That’s part of my drive to retire by 50. 50’s are still a good time to move around and stay active, and it’s a realistic goal for us as well which is obviously important. Going to hustle to move that date up if possible, though.

    Best of luck with Grandma RB40 – sounds exhausting at times 🙂

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:50 am

      Good luck to your parents as well. Hopefully, they have some pension and Social Security benefit at least. It’s tough to save for retirement if you haven’t done it right from the start.

  • Darren @ Learn to Be Great October 19, 2017, 6:50 am

    Joe,
    Sorry to hear about your mother’s issues. Having a calcium build-up in your mouth must be a constant annoyance…
    We, in the PF community, can easily say that people should retire earlier. Unfortunately, most Americans aren’t financially prepared to retire early. So many people work at low-paying jobs and have little to nothing saved up. They’re only able to retire because Social Security exists.
    My advice to my children will be to find financially rewarding work they love so that when they’re older, they’ll have more options…and stay physically fit!

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:51 am

      It’s strange because she never noticed it before. It’s not that small either.
      You’re right about retirement savings. It’s best to learn about early retirement when you’re young. If you put off saving until your 50s, then it can be really tough. Staying fit physically and mentally is the key to a healthy old age. Hopefully, I’ll handle it a bit better than my mom.

  • AB October 19, 2017, 6:54 am

    There will be a time when your parents won’t be able to take care of themselves and you become a caregiver whether you want to be or not. A care home costs between 3-5K/ month. Where is that going to come from? You save and retire early only to end up contributing to care home expenses, not for yourself, but for your parents. As for retiring early, sure, all for that, but I still would need to pay for health insurance monthly until Medicare starts. And finding a job, part time job with benefits, as an older worker is going to be much harder.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:53 am

      You’re right. It is going to be tough when that time comes. I’d prefer not to put her in a care home, but we’ll see how it goes. Luckily, I have 2 brothers. We could contribute a third each.
      I don’t even know what to say about health insurance. Who knows what it’s going to look like once Trump is through with it.

  • Ms. Montana October 19, 2017, 7:03 am

    Sorry to hear about that decline! It’s a big motivation for us not to push all the good stuff untill the end. We want to mix big trips and adventures into each year. Hopefully by 60 we will have done all the things we want to do, and can just do it all again. 🙂 I’m almost 35, so that means at one big adventure a year I can fit in another 25 big adventures by 60. 🙂 Plus get to enjoy my family at every age.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:54 am

      You’re doing it right. Having big trips every year is a great way to enjoy life. We try to do it at least every few years. 🙂

  • GYM October 19, 2017, 7:06 am

    My mom has a Torus too and she asked the exact same thing to me a few years ago lol! I told her it’s probably because she takes 15 vitamin supplements a day haha.

    My mom probably also has osteoporosis too but refuses to see the doctor for regular check ups (yes even though it’s free up here in Canada!)

    Sorry to hear what you’re going through Joe, sounds like you’re in the sandwich generation (taking care of children and parents). It’s great that you are FIREd can you imagine what it might be like if you were still working 9-5? That’s why I need to get FIREd in a few years because my mom and mother in law will be 80 in 10 years. That’s when things really start to decline 🙁

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:56 am

      Yes, I’m in the sandwich for sure. Our kid is growing up fast, though. In 10 years, he’ll be ready to strike out on his own. By then, my parents will really need more help. It’s tough, but I guess that’s what being human is all about. I know I’m luckier than a lot of people.

  • Jim @ MyCareerReboot.com October 19, 2017, 7:27 am

    I feel your frustration. I remember taking my Mom to the Doctor and after discussing a question that was settled for a half hour, that was the first question out of her mouth. This is also partly a need for additional empathy on your part, because the unknown is a really scary thing for older people. They didn’t get to be a certain age, without investigating things and with age, each decision is putting that entire age achievement on the line in some way. Being 50 and the youngest of 8 kids, I have a unique perspective on this. My oldest sibling is just about 70 now and my younger sibs see it with her. She still works 3 days per week, volunteers and is in the process of flipping a second house. My theory is, retire as early as possible, but be realistic and know the future landscape. If you’re 35 and stand to inherit a $1M from the parents homestead, that’s different from someone that’s 60 with an alcoholic mother-in-law who’s hanging on into her early 80s. It’s all relative.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:57 am

      You’re right. I’m not very good at being patience. I’ll try to be more emphatic too. That’s tough for me as well…
      Thanks for sharing. Every situation is different. Your oldest sister sounds like she’s doing very well. That’s great!

  • Mr. FWP October 19, 2017, 7:31 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I have family who never made it to 65. They missed some of those fun future adventures altogether. (And, like yours, my mother is also experiencing challenges of aging). I live my life knowing it could end at any time, so I had better make the most of today.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 10:58 am

      Those are the really tough cases. 2 of my uncles died young, but they were hard drinking and hard smoking people. You gotta take care of yourself and enjoy life while you can.

  • Adam October 19, 2017, 8:03 am

    My parents at 65 — that was 2014. They had retired in 2010 and were incredibly happy, spending 90 days every summer (the maximum available visa) on their small canal boat kicking around the Netherlands. Dad was into ham radio and dance classes and yoga and sketching; mom volunteered at the Smithsonian and spent 3/4 of the year looking forward to the 1/4 of it in Europe.

    One year ago today my mom died of an aggressive form of breast cancer. Dad is doing alright, medically and mentally and financially and socially. He sold the boat a couple months ago for 1/3 what they paid for it — he didn’t need the money and wanted to be out from under overseas property. He’s still into his hobbies, his pension is half again what he actually spends (on top of probably a seven-figure net worth), and I see him every other week or so. But we all miss mom terribly, and wish she’d had more time to do what she loved.

    65 is too late. Life’s too short.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 11:00 am

      I’m sorry to hear about your mom. It sounds like they had some great years, though. I’d love to spend extended time in Europe like that.
      Take care.

  • freebird October 19, 2017, 8:14 am

    I’d say as with most lifestyle questions, the answer strongly depends on the individual and his or her circumstances. If your job is making your life better why not keep at it awhile longer? But if your job takes you away from something you’d rather do, then by all means retire. If I wanted out without being financially ready to maintain my standard of living, I’d still retire– and suck it up by dropping a notch or two on my retirement spending. To me freedom is well worth losing a few frills.

    As for how we age, I think this varies a lot too. My dad’s health was so-so most of his life and took a dive after he retired aged 65. My mother’s health is still very good in her 80s. Most of her retirement traveling was in her 70s, and she’s probably done with her passport now. She happened to meet an old high school teacher of hers during a trip to Europe a decade ago who was in her 90s and was still a regular traveler across continents.

    My mother took Fosamax for over a decade and stopped all bone meds a few years ago; she’s now taking calcium and vitamin D supplements and drinks milk regularly. She’s found that doctors have widely varying views about this– some push hard towards meds while others don’t. Who’s to say which side is right?

    Apologies if I’m out of line, but it sounds as if your mother might be developing an anxiety problem. I think I recognize this because I believe it’s happening to me too. Minor stuff that I didn’t give a second thought to a decade ago now sends my pulse racing. I’d imagine that frequent contact with medical practitioners who have strongly interventionist attitudes may aggravate the problem. FWIW Mom seems happier since she started going to a more laid-back primary care physician.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 11:08 am

      Thanks for sharing. It’s great that your mom traveled so much in her senior years. I would love to do it, but I might just stay home too. You never know. Maybe you’re right about the anxiety problem. Is there a way to less that? Is it some kind of chemical imbalance or just psychology. These old age problems are tough.

  • Okiepennypincher October 19, 2017, 8:47 am

    I definitely want to retire before 65. I actually want to enjoy life and not work until the day I die. Many of the people I know do not retire because of health insurance. They have to work longer to get better insurance. I am lucky because I do not have to pay for healthcare. I am Native American and I go to the tribe. It helps a lot. When it comes to your health you just never know what is going to happen. Hard to really plan for that.

  • Stevie October 19, 2017, 8:55 am

    Several problems with working longer. Companies don’t want older employees (ageism worse than ever). Cognitive decline can make even white collar jobs a challenge. As I’ve commented here before, folks live longer, but not healthier. Between 50 and 70, odds of developing a disability or significant health issue are shockingly high: about 40%! While another 7% have died. Coming from a family with poor longevity, so glad I have the option of exiting the rat race early.

  • Kenny October 19, 2017, 10:21 am

    Your comments are ‘general’ for your readers and there are people falling apart at 50 and then there are healthy ones going strong at 80. But, your point is extremely valid that we ALL need to think about our own ‘permutation’ and apply the right set of principles of when to retire.

    The common thread between ALL of us retiring before 65 in the USA is that the HEALTH CARE system is so broken that it become cost prohibitive to think about it. In your case Mrs RB40 is really there to save you (for now), but as you go to the next phase, this will become the challenging element. It might not be challenging to all and also to you RB40, because it is just ‘money’ to get the same plan for $15K per year (for family), but it is $12K higher than most people would pay, which is $1000 per month. Once we get over this ‘real or mental barrier’ that can be easily accomplished with a better/harder work on generating slightly more income, life is GREAT for many in the Baby Boom generation that has worked hard, worked smart, gotten to the professional levels, and accumulated a good sum.

    My situation is good, but I am all ‘mentally plugged’ up on buying Health, Dental, Life, Accident coverage that is covered by my employer for $3800 per year for 4 of us. It is rather beautiful and it is more of a ‘habit’ forming (bad) thing, and moving to a $20K model for the same full coverage on all 4 of those items is a bit painful, and hence I am leaving life to ‘status quo’ i.e. continue to work, provide value, kiss the big bosses (slightly) and work from home.

    In the meantime, I have over $109K per year in rental income, and $39K in dividends, and $50K in capital gains (realized) per year that I could easily survive on, esp. when my expenses in sum total are $41K per year.

    So, like many, it is the ‘golden handcuffs’, but you are raising a GREAT point to many of us that CAN INDEED enjoy life more and do wood working for 3 months, painting for 5 months, and river rafting for 3 months as random hobbies, which will NOT be easy and possible if we let time fly by.

    Thank you for putting lots of good articles together, and please try and keep the articles general, using examples like Grandma RB40, or RB40Jr, but keeping those examples short and relevant, since we are ALL coming from different phases of life.

    Kenny

  • Grant @ Life Prep Couple October 19, 2017, 10:25 am

    Man getting old sucks. Sorry you are having to deal with your mom I know that can be extremely frustrating. Just pray that she doesn’t get dementia. My grandmother just passed away this year and battled with that for years. She would get stuck on one question and ask it literally hundreds of times in one day. “Who’s house is this?” Sad and frustrating.

    Modern medicine has allowed us to do amazing things when it comes to preserving the body. However, our understanding of the brain is so elementary there is a huge lag in our ability to preserve the mind. I agree that everyone should push for FI and retire ASAP to enjoy their body and mind while they have it.

  • David Michael October 19, 2017, 11:10 am

    Wow! Interesting comments about aging, seemingly coming from other 40 year olds. OK…I’m age 80 and I’ll add my two cents worth.

    I have no physical limits at my age. I’m just a bit slower. I hike, bike, kayak, garden, and work just as I was at age 60, when I biked across the USA for 4500 miles, camping out every night along the way. Yes! And, I work three months a year, formerly with Amazon and now with Costco, even though I was a college teacher as my main career. Some elders have health limitations but everyone is different. Most likely the next generation will live to 100 or more years in decent health. So…eating nourishing food, exercising every day, and having a loving partner makes a huge difference.

    Retire before age 65? Maybe. I retired at age 56, took off for ten years, and then worked overseas for five years. So much is dependent on will, vision, and income. The reality is that most retirees will go in and out of work as they age. 75 percent of present retirees depend on Social Security. But…playing and having fun gets old, day after day, year after year. What retirement allows, regardless of the age, is choice. Eventually, many of us work part-time because it challenges us mentally and physically as well as allows meaningful interaction with other humans. And, many of the jobs are fun as well as creative. So what I am saying is, retirement is just another phase of life. Being financially free allows more choices whether 45, 65, or 85.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 12:04 pm

      David, Thank you for adding your perspective. I was hoping to hear from you.
      Part time work is the perfect fit for retirement. You get more time for yourself and it keeps you engaged.
      You’re really lucky that you’re healthy. Great job keeping active and living well over a lifetime.

  • Roseanne October 19, 2017, 11:45 am

    Hi Joe,
    I read today’s article through smiling eyes. You will get there, too. Yes, RB40Jr will have to deal with you and your wife. You can count on it. I was fortunate enough to have my mom live until she was 99.5 and I dealt with similar events/questions every day. One time she called me – hurry over. HURRY! She had received the Publisher’s Clearing House winning entry and wanted to know which color car I would like. Umm, really?! I had to drop everything and run over for that. The only you can change is your attitude. Smile to yourself and count your blessings that she trusts you to help her make these important (sometimes only important to her) decisions. {{hugs}} Vent here all you want – we can totally emphasize and listen really well. Oh, and I totally agree with the retire as soon as you can or sooner! ~smile~ Roseanne

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 12:06 pm

      Thank you for your input. I will try to be more patience. It’s tough because I’m not a very good at it. I guess I’ll just have to mellow out as I and everyone around me age. 🙂

  • Financial Samurai October 19, 2017, 12:14 pm

    I got a solution for you! Have your brother take care of your mom for one year and trade off! Where does he live?

    You’re right about parents slowing down after 70 years old. It’s sad and it makes me really focused on health and living life to the fullest.

    • retirebyforty October 19, 2017, 12:30 pm

      My brother lives in the Bay Area. She usually split her time between us. But all her healthcare providers are here in Portland. Also, they are having a baby so it’s pretty hectic for them so my mom is staying with us longer than usual this year. Hence, the need to move to a bigger place soon…

  • Krystal // The Krystal Diaries October 19, 2017, 1:09 pm

    I think the “living to work” mindset plays into retiring later in life sometimes. I know lots of people who believe if they’re not working they have nothing else to fulfill them and keep them busy. I on the other hand can find plenty of things I enjoy more than working so my goal is to retire before 65. Nothing in life is guaranteed especially not your health.

  • Angela @ Tread Lightly, Retire Early October 19, 2017, 1:14 pm

    Amazingly, my grandmother has gotten MORE willing to travel now that she’s 83. It’s like all of a sudden she’s thrown her worries out the window and now is ready to go see and do things she wouldn’t have when she was younger.

    That said, I would never bank on being in amazing shape as you get older – even forty or fifty isn’t guaranteed. The younger you live life on your terms, the more you get to enjoy it, no matter how many good years you have left.

    • retirebyforty October 20, 2017, 12:05 pm

      That’s really great! I hope I’d still be willing to travel when I’m 83.

  • Adam and Jane October 19, 2017, 2:23 pm

    Totally agree with you that retiring at 65 is not a good idea since you never know what the future holds. My father had colon cancer at age 62 when he collected his first Social Security check. He then got lung cancer and died at age 69.

    The problem is that not everyone can retire early in their 30’s, 40’s or 50’s. Jane was laid off in 2016 at age 51 and she is SO happy to never work again! She is the youngest retiree in our family. We are also the only couple in the family that have pensions. I will work for 2 more years and will retire at age 55 to double my pension if the company does not get rid of me first. We are fortunate to save enough money and have investments that generate passive income to bridge us to 62 and 65. Our company also has retiree medical and that is another incentive to retire at 55 instead of quiting now since we don’t know if obamacare will be available in the future.

    Many americans consume and don’t save enough money to retire before 62 or 65. Many people rely on social security starting at 62. Many can’t afford healthcare and need to work until 65 in order to receive medicare.

    So far all of our elders in the family retired at age 62 in order to collect SS. Several relatives and my sister-in-laws will retire at age 65 since they can’t afford to pay for healthcare out of pocket. My uncle and aunt told me that their healthcare bill is 22K for 2017. Another retired uncle/aunt also pays over 22K for healthcare out of pocket.

    I share your pain with your aging mom. I take my mom age 77 to so many doctor appointments and she takes so many meds. Many times she drive me CRAZY. Unfortunately, what illness plagues our parents may happen to us so it is very important to excerise, eat right and stay healthy.

    Adam

    • retirebyforty October 20, 2017, 12:07 pm

      55 is a really great age to retire. Retiree medical sounds really good too. Healthcare is such a big problem for early retirees.
      My mom is relatively healthy and she already has to go to so many appointment. I’d hate to see what it will be like when she’d older. Healthcare is tough.
      Thank you for sharing.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 19, 2017, 2:24 pm

    The fuzzy-mentality thing might not necessarily be an age thing – she might be lacking something in her diet or nutrition that’s affecting her that way. More doctors that I know are saying that loss of mental clarity doesn’t have to be an age thing, and my grandma was having the same problems until they discovered she had a nutritional deficiency that led her to be confused all the time. She was sharp as a tack in her 70s and early 80s, so it was amazing that she was able to mostly bounce back after they corrected the deficiency.

    The youngest seeming person who isn’t in my life is turning 75 and she retired early. I’m starting to think that there’s a correlation between having the luxury/ability of building enough wealth to retire early plus staying active to the quality of life you lead.

    But in the end, yes, RB40Jr is going to have to deal with some of this with you when you’re older, it’s a natural part of life. My parents used to always say that you’re taken care of like that when you’re an infant at the start of life, and when you’re an elder at the end of your life, so you expect life to be a bell curve of capability.

    • retirebyforty October 20, 2017, 12:10 pm

      Really? I will need to read up on that. The doctor did blood work regularly and didn’t see much problem. Just vitamin D, but that’s normal for Portland… What nutrient did your grandma lacked?
      Thanks.

  • saveinvestbecomefree October 19, 2017, 6:16 pm

    You drive a very good point home. Regardless of your specific situation with grandma RB40, it’s very common for major health problems to start after 60. Most people plan to work until 65 but the average retirement age is 62 and the top reason is because of health issues. Time passes quickly and it’s easy to get old before you did all the things you wanted to do. If you can save a lot and retire earlier, it’s a great way to make sure you don’t get old before you can do the challenging things on your life list that you don’t have time for now. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Steveark October 19, 2017, 6:58 pm

    I early retired but now at 6o plus my wife and I and some others are up before 5 AM and run 18 miles a week. We also get in five or six tennis matches a week and there isn’t a high school team player around that can win a set off of either of us. We climbed a 14’er last month after driving 600 miles to see the total eclipse on a 2600 mile road trip. I have one friend who is 85 and unless you are pretty highly rated I suspect he can destroy you at tennis, he can also crush the high school kids. We aren’t all your grandma kiddo, I think with our fitness habits me and most of my boomer friends that still work out will be pretty active up into our eighties if not beyond. It is a mistake to judge what’s normal for others based on your family. You may just have bad genetics or a family that doesn’t work out enough to stay fit or it may just be that the few older people you know don’t constitute a reasonable sample size statistically. But whatever the reason saying 70 means too old for anything is pretty ridiculous based on my 70 and 80 year old friends. That being said I also retired early because once you have enough money then life is a little too short to spend all of it at work so maybe we agree after all!

    • retirebyforty October 20, 2017, 12:16 pm

      That’s fantastic! Thanks for sharing! Truthfully, my mom is more active than I am. She walks 1-2 hours everyday and has various senior activity classes. Yeap, my genetic is not great. But I assume, that’s normal. I guess that could be wrong. Is it survivor bias…? People that aren’t active probably doesn’t last until 85.
      I think it’s great that you are still fit and active. Great job.

  • Stockbeard October 19, 2017, 11:34 pm

    If anything I think your article gives me good elements about what I shouldn’t be doing when I get older. I don’t want to be a burden for my kids or grandkids when I get older. I assume staying physically and mentally active is part of the equation. I have 35 years to prepare…

  • snowcanyon October 20, 2017, 6:51 am

    If you have a genetic/familial predisposition to early and poor aging, the answer is exercise, exercise, exercise. Ditch the car and get a bike. Walk 20000 steps a day. Yoga and/or tai chi for balance and mental acuity. Weight lifting for strength. Exercise has been show to actually lengthen the telomeres, leading to a longer, healthier lifespan.

    • retirebyforty October 20, 2017, 12:17 pm

      I’ll get right on that. I go to the gym almost every weekdays, but I really need to be more active overall. My mom is actually pretty active. She walks a lot and go to a few senior exercise classes.

  • Budget on a Stick October 20, 2017, 7:43 am

    Ms. Blue Ribbon and I were talking about an upcoming post that I did some math for. I told how much our net worth could be if we kept working our current jobs until we were 65. She looked at me with a sad face, “I don’t want to work until then.”

    I think I have officially ruined the idea of retiring at 65 and instilled in her head early retirement #win!

  • AGoodLifeMD October 20, 2017, 9:20 am

    Steinbeck and the poet before him said it best “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”.

    I also think 65 is a terrible idea, mainly for the uncertainty of making it there healthy. I’m healthy now!

    As an oncologist I see the best laid plan go awry all the time. While most of my patients are older than 50, not all are. It’s like a oncologist friend of mine said “Every year I get closer to my patients age”.

    • retirebyforty October 20, 2017, 12:18 pm

      Thanks for your comment and your friend’s. You never know how well you’ll age.

  • Lazy Man and Money October 20, 2017, 6:07 pm

    At first I was thinking the same thing… of course retiring at 65 is a bad idea if you can retire earlier. However, I liked how you backed it up with personal anecdotes. It makes sense to me when I think of the older people in my life as well.

    Maybe we’ll get a few more active years due to advanced medicine, but it’s probably not going to much.

  • PhilBob October 22, 2017, 12:14 pm

    Everyone is different. I’ve been reading this blog for years, but I’m almost 60 and not able to retire yet. Poor planning when I was younger, then a year of unemployment 5 years ago (with a lower paying job following that), and then divorce 3.5 years ago have all impacted my financial situation. I’m pretty aggressive in my savings, and was more so when married and making a higher salary, with help from my husband (who has never made much money), but I’m doing things NOW, since I have put myself in the position of not being able to retire really early. I skydive regularly, hit the slopes in winter, and have been upping my travel. I want to experience while I’m still not really old, but I fully expect my lifestyle to carry into my 70s. Am I unrealistic? Things can happen, but I know that my jumping and skiing buddies keep going and going. Recently I boated and biked on the Danube, and the older people in the group of friends I made there were all lively and doing, including an almost 70 year old triathlete. I think you need to work at keeping mentally and physically active, which is something I intend to do.

    While it’s impossible for me to rb40, I still use a lot of info here to help me in my situation, and to carry me into my eventual retirement able to keep my lifestyle up.

  • Kut Chai October 22, 2017, 2:11 pm

    True joe! The idea behind retiring in 60+ is not good at all! Our childhood goes in play…youth in family and earning money and suddenly the old age comes which also passes mostly in the fear of health and death….no time to enjoy and do whatever one wants to… Early retirement is the only solution…
    I am also planning to retire in 2020 …I would be in mid 30’s that time…let’s hope it works out well!

  • Mike H. October 24, 2017, 9:38 am

    I’ve worked with the actuarial mortality tables we used for Healthy Life Expectancy, and you’re pretty much correct: the *average* lifespan is increasing, but the *maximum* lifespan doesn’t move a lot. Basically, more people are living longer, but the “cliff” is still in the same spot.

    [Due to modern medicine, I’m sure that there will be a record-breaking lifespan soon, but until we can cure cancer, heart disease, and car accidents, I wouldn’t count on immortality any time soon…]

    The push for people to work longer is – my opinion – driven by the very real retirement savings crisis we have in the US, plus the decline in pensions, plus the upcoming Social Security crisis (people don’t think about it in these terms, but they do understand that they feel nervous about retiring). 20-30 years ago, you’d probably retire as soon as you hit your pension plan’s Normal Retirement Age, Social Security would kick in at 65, and any other savings you had were gravy. Today, retiring at age 65 would mean a lot of people would suffer massive quality of life losses due to inadequate savings.

    The good news: good planning in your 20s, reasonable effort in your 30s, or massive effort in your 40s can get you financially ready to retire before 65. Age 40 retirement is out of the question for me, but 50 is probably doable. If I’m still working at age 65, it’s because I’m doing something I love part time.

  • Jing October 30, 2017, 1:09 pm

    The story of your grandma’s disrupted routine is something I notice more and more about my mom. Thankfully she’s only in her 50s still, but I notice she’ll be very freaked out at the prospect of learning new things. I don’t think it necessarily has to just do with aging, but also the lack of challenging yourself as you get older…it seems pretty easy to settle into a comfortable routine! I hope to always learn something and still try things that scare me for this reason, but who really knows what the future will hold?

    I definitely hear you on wanting to retire early for the purpose of doing all the things I feel I won’t have the energy to do when I’m older. It also means I really need to step on taking care of myself so that hopefully I’ll still have the energy to travel when I’m 70 if I really want to.

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