Heads-Up! Early Retirement Can Be Bad for Your Health

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Whether you put in your 40 years with the company or are on the 10-year saving spree leading to FIRE (Financial Independence/Retire Early) – you would be wise to glance past the finish line and consider some basic facts. It pains me to write this, but – early retirement can be bad for your health… I mean, really bad…


(Photo courtesy of MKulp Photography)


After years of hard work, early mornings, and late nights of working toward your career goals – that pot at the end of the rainbow can be one of the most dangerous ruses of your lifetime. In fact, retirement ranks in at #10 in terms of the average individuals most stressful life events (Source). Let’s start with the bad news.


Studies from these Harvard, US News and World Report, and Medical Daily articles all discuss some part of the frightening reality that early retirement has been shown to lead to:


  • 40% increase in heart attack or stroke risk for the newly retired compared with their working counterparts (Harvard / Medical Daily)
  • 60% increase in chance to have some documented physical ailment (US News)
  • 40% greater chance to be depressed (US News / Medical Daily)
  • Fewer friendships (US News)
  • Greater potential lose health insurance (US News)
  • More likely to go bankrupt (US News)
  • Higher chance of dementia and anxiety (Medical Daily)
  • And maybe the kicker – you are more likely to die early…


So, is it true that all the FIRE proponents out there are busting their butts for a terribly depressing and unhealthy twilight period?? Yep. We debunked that one pretty quick, eh? So just stop saving like crazy, take out debt, and live life making frivolous and spontaneous purchases! It’ll keep you at work and as an indirect byproduct – more likely alive and not depressed! Phenomenal!


Uhhhh… Hold the phone on the above paragraph. 


Early (or just regular) retirement isn’t guaranteed to be miserable. Actually – if done right – it can be the best experience of your lifetime (Harvard / US News / Medical Daily / MikedUp Blog – my parents and father-in-law are retired; #Science). But, like most things, you just need to be prepared.


Both the Harvard and US News articles conclude with good ‘how-to’ sections on getting the most out of retirement (Medical Daily just leaves you depressed), so roses and sugarplums are out there – we just need to work for them.


Both studies stress the importance of having a purpose in retirement. 


It isn’t sustainable to just put the time in and call it quits. All data show that this plan is a recipe for disaster. Rather, you may think of starting a business which could reduce the nest egg required, increase the ability to afford health insurance, and ultimately increase freedom in retirement. If you’ve been waiting to explore photography, start a blog, or work for a company that shares your life’s purpose and passion, a working retirement may not seem like work at all.


Some additional options could be volunteer work, travel, or devoting more time to family. If you’ve helped all those in need, been everywhere, and are all good on your family time – the Harvard article lists 4 key elements universally cited by those happy retirees surveyed:


  • Establish a new social network. This one’s easy. Might as well embrace the stereotype and befriend your neighbor at the penny slots or opponent in the bingo hall. A less laughable option could be meeting those that share interests similar to yours. If working out is your jam, strike up a convo with some fellow stair-steppers or iron-pumpers.
  • Learn continually. Put that library card to work or check out your local college. Some campuses offer free or reduced rates for seniors.
  • Play. Personally, I can’t wait for this one. Join a volleyball league (I know two 75+ year-olds that do this), start a game-night, or put the Google machine to use and find some fun activities in your vicinity.
  • Keep the creative juices flowing. You finally have time to write the memoir or fictional gem that’s been running through your brain. Do you prefer drawing, music, or poetry? No worries – it’s your retirement. Pick one or all of them and give it a shot.


No matter which avenue you’d prefer, the collective argues that retirement is the time to identify your life’s true purpose, and if you hadn’t done so already – go and fulfill it! This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to jump up on day 1 and file for your EIN, but maybe you could start with Googling EIN to see what I’m talking about, and whether or not that may be the option for you. Life’s a precious gift – go live it to the fullest!



Thanks for reading!


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I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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