Today on Retire Sooner, we’re revisiting one of our most popular topics of the year: five reasons why someone may want to retire as soon as they can! Wes talks through catalysts for retiring, dives into the retirement transition, and shares comments from listeners regarding their retirement. He also reveals financial checkpoints of happy retirees and provides his insights on retiring happy.
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- Wes Moss [00:00:00]:
This week on the Retire Sooner podcast, we’re revisiting one of our most popular topics of the year: The 5 Reasons To Retire As Soon As You Can. We recorded this originally in September of 2021. So the companies mention might not be currently laying people off, but they’re provided as examples and other companies are doing similar layoffs this year.Sometimes there’s one main catalyst that pushes you into retirement. Maybe a company does it for you. Maybe a health issue does it for you. Maybe money alone does it for you. But the reality is that there are usually a series, big trends that lead to or big questions that get answered that lead you to calling it quits. In this episode, I want to talk about five reasons that come up over and over that really point people or point you in the direction of leaving work and heading to retirement. We’re going to discuss these here today, and if you find yourself saying yes to one or more than one of today’s list, then maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s time to retire sooner. I’m Wes Moss.
The prevailing thought in America is that you’ll never have enough money and it’s almost impossible to retire early. Actually, I think the opposite is true. For more than 20 years, I’ve been researching, studying, and advising American families, including those who started late, on how to retire sooner and happier. So my mission with the Retire Sooner podcast is to help a million people retire earlier while enjoying the adventure along the way. I’d love for you to be one of them. Let’s get started.
If you’re listening to the Retire Sooner podcast, and you’re clearly thinking about retirement, at least in some capacity, maybe you’re in the camp that’s just starting to think about it, and you’re young and you’re just getting started to put money away and invest money and think, oh, this is way into the future. But I at least want to think about it starting now. Maybe you’re in the camp that you’re really ramping up, getting ready to retire. You’ve been saving for a lot of years, and now you have a plan for when and how retirement is going to look, but you’re still maybe nervous to pull the trigger on stepping away from work completely. And maybe you’re just not sure exactly how the mechanics work and how you’re supposed to withdraw money once you actually retire. And how do you make that money last?
Maybe you’re in the camp where you’re at a company and the company is putting pressure on lots of people to step away or retire early, or just retire when you get to a certain age, depending on the industry. The US. Economy has had a huge comeback ever since COVID but there’s always industries that are either, as HR would say, right, sizing. In reality, it’s downsizing and big company decisions or economic decisions are impacting you or maybe hundreds or thousands of people in your industry or your company. AT&T is always an example that I hear about having layoffs. I’ve been in Atlanta for several decades now, and it seems like every year there’s another big push for AT&T, which is a massive, massive company to whittle down their workforce. In fact, they even have a very special term for it that I’ve only known through early retirees or retirees of AT&T that get these packages that are early incentives to leave. And the company calls it surplusing. And I guess that’s their spin from the draconian days where downsizing used to be the word, so they’ve changed it to surplusing. We have a surplus of people, so you’re going to be in the surplus camp, so we have less overall people. And now you’re forced into a bunch of financial decisions whether you should take a lump sum or take a monthly pension. And what are you supposed to do now with all this free time if financially you’re in the camp that you can stop working completely, not go find a new job?
In fact, there’s entire websites that exist to facilitate the conversation around big companies laying people off: TheLayoff.com. It has a list of hundreds and hundreds of companies that you can go read about, and employees from those companies can chat and post about what they’re hearing about inside the company when it comes to reductions in workforce for whatever reason, it’s essentially a chat room about big corporate layoffs. They call them layoff boards. If you go to the website, of course, AT&T is typically at the top of the list, but you’re seeing companies like Accenture and ADP and Allscripts, and Apache and Baker, Hughes and Dell, Deloitte, Emerson Electric, JCPenney, Raytheon, SAP, T-Mobile, Union Pacific, Verizon the list goes on and on and on. So maybe you’re in that camp where the company is making the decision for you, or maybe you’re in the group of folks that’s just starting to figure out retirement.
One of our guests here on the Retire Sooner podcast, Louis Primavera, has written an entire book on trying to help people through this difficult period of time, which is the transition into retirement. Or maybe you’ve already retired and you’re now just trying to figure out the happiness piece when it comes to retirement. And if that’s you, you’re not alone.
So let’s go through and ask some of these big questions. And I want you to, as you listen through this, ask yourself, does this apply to me? I think back over the 20 some years and hundreds and hundreds of conversations around, hey, when is it time to say, hey, I’m out of here, I’m going. And I’m not just talking about moving to another job, I’m talking about leaving for an actual retirement. These are the questions that come up over and over again. And typically people are answering yes to some of these questions that are the catalyst for them to move on.
Now, maybe I’ll start with the following, which is the Gartner Group study that I think it’s so important to understand, just the general climate of work and being an employee here in the United States and the engagement levels we have. And these statistics have been around long before we went through COVID and long before we entered into the I quit economy, which we’ve talked about here on Retire Sooner. But the reality is that only about one in five Americans are fully engaged and love what they do, and they come to work every day excited to be there.
Now, again, even for this group, work is still work, and there are virtually no jobs and no people that love every single minute of what they do. But one in five, or about 20% of America really do enjoy what they do. They look forward to what the workday will bring, which make them fully engaged. And maybe this is the group that says you never work a day in your life if you love your job.
But then three out of five folks are in this camp that’s kind of benign. They could either take it or leave it. Hey, I don’t hate my job, but I really don’t love it either. They’re not necessarily engaged, and they’d be fine to walk away at any time.
And then there’s one in five, or about 20% of the US hates their job so much that they are actively trying to bring their company down. They’d love to see their boss get fired. They’d love to see earnings that come out for the company are terrible. They’d love to see a product line fail and go away because to some extent, the company has almost sucked the life out of them. I’ve seen this over and over again. In fact, if you go to thelayoffs.com and start reading some of these comments, you’ll see hundreds and hundreds of posts from people who say that they used to love their job or they had a lot of good years. They had 20 great years at this company, XYZ Company. And I’m no longer just picking on AT&T here. There are hundreds of companies in discussion, but people say, I’ve been here for a decade or two decades or more, and this was a special place and it was a great place, but it’s not the same as it used to be. Maybe it’s different management, maybe it’s different ownership, maybe it’s totally different goals. And the company is no longer a place that you’re proud of. And you’ve gone from that one in 20 that loves their job to the three out of five, to the 60% that can take it or leave it, or even the 20% that really feels burned and is already mentally out the door.
I actually did a YouTube video about this very topic, “5 Reasons You Should Retire As Soon As You Can.” And there’s hundreds and hundreds of comments, and some of them really hit home with me. Here’s one from, let’s say, a year ago from a viewer who said, “I was happier when I was 15 years old and had $5 in my pocket than when I was an adult and had many thousands of dollars in my account. I retired last year at 51. I’m not rich, but I spend most of my time renovating an old house and walking the beach with my fishing rod. I have a one day a week side hustle just to keep from spending my nest egg, which is still growing. I’m not the most wealthy guy on my block, but it’s safe to say I’m the happiest.” That hits home to me.
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Let’s dive into some of these questions and see if you answer yes to any of them. That might get you to start thinking about your next phase after your current job. Number one: is your commute longer than 45 minutes? I think America’s thought about and talked a lot about their commutes ever since the COVID shutdowns because it taught millions of workers who never used to work from home that it’s entirely possible to work from home. So commuting and driving back and forth to work has taken on even more scrutiny than it ever has, and rightly so, because a lengthy commute takes a toll in a lot of different ways. We know that the stress of a long drive isn’t even healthy for our bodies.
But here’s an interesting statistic a long commute can actually hurt your relationships, too. If one spouse commutes longer than 45 minutes, the couple is 40% more likely to get divorced. And that makes some sense, because time in the car is time that you are not engaging with your spouse and not engaging with your family. And the stress of that long commute can take its toll on you, making you, let’s say, less than delightful when you finally do get home. Now, I think most of us think our commutes aren’t great in our particular cities. In fact, whenever I bring up Atlanta, Atlanta is not a good city for commuting. And if I’m talking about our commuting to somebody from Texas or the northeast or California, they’ll chime in and say, well, that sounds bad, but our commute’s even worse. Our commute’s even worse. And the reality is, they’re as bad as Atlanta’s commute is, and it’s rough. And I’ve talked to people where they’re commuting over an hour every single they’re commuting over an hour, twice a day, every day. And you can just see how it wears on, folks.
But the reality is, there are a lot of cities that are decidedly worse than Atlanta. Washington DC. Boston, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas and Houston, Cleveland and Orlando, these are all places with brutal commutes for some people. In Washington DC, over 70% of people have a commute that’s over 30 minutes. 12% of people commute over an hour each way. Average commute over 40 minutes. Boston and New York both, over 10% of people commute an hour each way. 35 to 40 minutes on average, each way. In Philly, Miami, LA, Chicago, San Francisco. That’s 80 minutes a day in the car. And that’s when everything’s running smoothly. Times five days a week, that’s 400 minutes. Or over 6 hours in the car every week. 6 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, 300 hours in the car. That’s seven and a half work weeks in any given year. No wonder brutal commutes are such a driver for people to want to leave a particular job, but actually lead people to retirement. So if you answered yes to this, your commute is longer than 45 minutes, it’s absolutely time to rethink that.
Number two: is your work schedule unhealthy? And this one hits home for me as well. For around the first ten years we were married, Lynn was a nurse. And when you’re nursing, particularly when you’re younger in nursing, because it’s a 24/7 occupation, there’s day shifts and there’s night shifts. And she was often stuck on those night shifts, not all the time. So she didn’t fully adjust to working at night, but she would bounce between two days, then two or three nights, then a day, then four nights, then two days, then two to three nights. And it wreaked havoc on her and almost everyone I’ve known. And this applies to a lot of different industries, but I happen to have heard this, too, from not just, of course, Lynn, but many of her nursing friends, that this can get really unhealthy.
A recent study of 28,000 food and retail workers found that employees who work full or partial on call schedules were significantly less likely to report feeling happy and were more likely to sleep poorly. Again, that’s food and retail. Think about manufacturing. Think about first responders, paramedics, firemen, policemen. Think about industrial jobs, transportation jobs, days and night. And, of course, healthcare. There’s no wonder that we have a healthcare shortage in the United States, as doctors and nurses were already almost at the brink. And then we get hit with the pandemic. It’s pushed so many folks in this industry to leave, and those jobs really still many of them remain to be filled.
Now, some of those jobs I’m talking about are people moving to different industries, but it’s also led people to rethink whether they should maybe stop working and actually go into retirement. Some businesses and some industries absolutely require shift work and require you to be on call to meet the needs of the patients or the customers. But if you work in one of those industries and you can’t escape that sort of schedule. Maybe it’s time to make an honest evaluation of how the uncertainty is impacting your health and your happiness.
Number three: is your job in that take it or leave it or even less category? Of course, every job has some aspects that are not perfect or not ideal. Of course, that’s why they call it work. But any job worth having is supposed to have a real element of fun and excitement and challenges that make you look forward to going to work. No matter what stage of your career you’re in, you should still be learning, and you should be growing and teaching and sharing with some degree of passion. We all like to feel that our work matters in some way and that we’re putting our own positive mark on the world. But if your job is no longer providing a sense of purpose, then it’s time to look for fulfillment elsewhere. If you’re making that 45 minutes plus commute every day just for the money, you and I both know there’s no paycheck big enough to justify keeping an empty, soul crushing job when retirement may be a real option.
Number four: do you feel unappreciated? Unappreciated at work? Even if you might not feel a powerful connection with your work, and you may not feel as though you’re making your mark on the world as you would like, there’s zero excuse to not feel appreciated at work and not to be recognized for your contributions. Sure, you can say, hey, I get paid. That serves its purpose. But true fulfillment requires some direct personal touch. And if you’re not being thanked and you’re not being acknowledged, then there’s a cultural issue at work. And there is zero excuse, no matter what industry you’re in, no matter how big or small your company is, to tolerate a bad work culture. And I’m not just talking about bad work culture as the poster child. Companies we hear about once or twice a year about how a terrible place to work. I’m talking about just not having a warm, welcoming, appreciative environment. Every employer should be able to offer that, from trucking companies to food companies, manufacturing, defense, healthcare it doesn’t matter the industry and it doesn’t matter the size of the company. If you’re not feeling appreciated at work, then there’s a cultural problem at that company.
And maybe you can tell from the sound of my voice, this is one of those areas that really does get me worked up. Having built a series of different companies over the years, building a place where people like each other feel appreciated is critical to any company’s success, A. And B, there’s no reason that leadership doesn’t make good on what I think should be a promise to every employee. If you haven’t gotten a thank you or felt appreciated in the last six months, wherever you’re working, I think that’s a major red flag. And a place, quite frankly, people shouldn’t be so ask yourself that question are you underappreciated at work? If the answer is yes, it’s time to start making plans to do something else.
Now, number five: have you topped out financially? Most jobs come with built in salary caps, and companies in general have to keep pay and compensation in check. Maybe you’re in a scenario where and I see this happen all the time, you had a great year, and because you had a great year, your employer just doubled your quota, doubled your sales goals, and made it so that you have no more real upside. Again, that’s a sign that you’re going to cap out financially. I also think it’s a cultural issue as well. But sometimes if you’re with an organization for a long period of time and your salary does get to be relatively high, sometimes it can even put a target on your back. If the company decides to look for places to cut costs, if a company decides to surplus you or right size the workforce, if you’re just collecting a paycheck and there’s no bonuses in sight, maybe it’s time to start looking elsewhere. And that elsewhere could be you focusing in on some sort of retirement income. Maybe it’s income from your investments, other income sources, rental properties. Maybe it’s part time work in a field or your own business that you actually do love.
Imagine that you land in that one in five that loves and engaged in whatever kind of work you do. Your commute is negligible, or you get to work almost completely from home. Your schedule is the way you want it to be. You really do love the contribution you’re making to the world. Through your work, you feel appreciated through your community, your employees or your customers. And from a financial perspective, there’s no cap on the upside. Well, I think I just described job utopia, and if you have all that, why would you ever, ever want to retire? The answer would be not until I’m forced to. And I wish we could all find work just like that. But the reality is, we know this from statistics, and I’ve seen this in real life, hundreds, if not thousands of examples. The US. Workforce might have provided you a paycheck, and you might have done well financially. But if now you’re in a position where the numbers do work for you to be able to stop working or move to something completely different in a part time capacity, then maybe it is time to retire.
Now, we talk a lot about the mechanics of how to be in a position to retire here on the Retire Sooner podcast. But as a quick review, happy retirees from a financial standpoint, do the following three things or get to the following three. Let’s call it financial checkpoints. And that’s one: have at least or accumulate at least $500,000 in liquid retiree savings. Now, that can take an entire lifetime to get to, but once you have that working for you. Those assets now have the ability to be a new, steady source of income. And even though infinite money doesn’t lead to infinite happiness, getting you at a certain point financially in relation to your retirement happiness is important. And that $500,000 mark is an important checkpoint.
Number two, mortgage payoff is within sight. Americans get used to paying this bill for decades. The mortgage, the mortgage, the mortgage, the mortgage. And we almost get used to that. But it’s one of the most powerful financial and psychological lifts I see for retirees, and that’s eliminating the mortgage, meaning having the home paid for. We know the following the retirees that are within five years of paying off their mortgage are four times more likely to end up in the happy camp relative to the unhappy retiree camp. Paying off the mortgage is a wonderful and powerful psychological shift.
And number three, multiple streams of income, essentially having diversification of how you receive your retirement income. Because, yes, it’s scary. This entire podcast has been contemplating, if I say yes to this and yes to that, a long commute, an unhealthy schedule. I don’t love my job. I don’t love the culture. I’m financially tapped out, or the financial upside is capped out here. Or in some cases, we see companies that literally come in and reduce pay. Then I want my savings that I’ve accumulated and my assets that I’ve accumulated over the years to provide multiple tributaries of income that all run into one big stream in case one of them gets cut off or one of them is damaged. There’s lots of other redundancies or backups. In fact, happy retirees have three or more different income streams relative to the unhappy camp.
The bottom line here is that if you’ve answered yes to any of these five questions, or maybe more than one, then it’s time for you to start thinking about the next phase. We can call it the retirement gray zone. We can call it anything you want. But it’s a period of life that you’ve been working towards saving towards, to have the economic freedom to choose how your days and minutes are spent. Maybe it’s renovating an old house, carrying a fishing rod on the beach. It might come in the form of being a full time grandparent, watching your grandkids while your kids are off at work. Or maybe it’s the opposite of that, and you live somewhere on the coast and visit the grandkids two or three times a year. Whatever your core pursuits are, they’re core purposes in your life that are unique to you. And financially, I want you to be able to arrive there on your own terms.
Hopefully, all this is helpful, and if it is, you’ll pass it on to a friend or a loved one who’s also thinking about retiring sooner.
Mallory Boggs [00:26:14]:
Hey, y’all, this is Mallory with the Retire Sooner team. Please be sure to rate and subscribe to this podcast and share it with a friend. If you have any questions, you can find us at WesMoss.com. You can also follow us on Instagram and YouTube. You’ll find us under the handle Retire Sooner Podcast. And now for our show’s disclosure. This is provided as a resource for informational purposes and is not to be viewed as investment advice or recommendations. This information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. The mention of any company is provided to you for informational purposes and as an example only, and is not to be considered investment advice or recommendation or an endorsement of any particular company past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee offered that investment return, yield or performance will be achieved. The information provided is strictly an opinion and for informational purposes only and it is not known whether the strategies will be successful. There are many aspects and criteria that must be examined and considered before investing. This information is not intended to and should not form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax or investment advisor before before making any investment tax, estate or financial planning considerations or decisions. Investment decisions should not be made solely based on information contained herein.
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This information is provided to you as a resource for informational purposes only and is not to be viewed as investment advice or recommendations. Investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no guarantee offered that investment return, yield, or performance will be achieved. There will be periods of performance fluctuations, including periods of negative returns and periods where dividends will not be paid. Past performance is not indicative of future results when considering any investment vehicle. This information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. This information is not intended to, and should not, form a primary basis for any investment decision that you may make. Always consult your own legal, tax, or investment advisor before making any investment/tax/estate/financial planning considerations or decisions. Investment decisions should not be made solely based on information contained in this article. The information contained in the article is strictly an opinion and for informational purposes only and it is not known whether the strategies will be successful. There are many aspects and criteria that must be examined and considered before investing.