Why I Never Want to Retire
You can literally spend days scouring the internet finding different answers to the question, “how to save for retirement” or “how to retire early”. In general, most of the advice boils down to this:
Earn more than you spend, put the difference in an index fund, add to that money but don’t pull anything out for 30-40 years, and hopefully by the end of the journey you’ve saved and invested enough that you can stop working and just live off the income your money generates.
But here’s what I’m asking today…
Is this “deferred retirement” model the right model for most people?
And the more I think about it, and the more I read about it, and the more I let the thought sort of marinate in my noggin, the more I start to disagree with the societal expectation of a person’s working life, i.e:
- Get to 18-22, and enter the workforce
- Work for roughly 30-40 years
- Around the age of 65, stop working and live off money you’ve been saving.
- Die at 78. Ish.
I know social security was meant to help those who truly needed it, but the program was started back in 1935, and that’s what really gave birth to the whole “You’re done working at 65” mentality. A lot has changed since then, most importantly that extra 13 years of life that modern science has tacked on to average life expectancy.
So against the advice of my lawyers and my better judgement, I’m taking a stand today:
I DON’T EVER WANT TO RETIRE!!!
Before you all gather your pitchforks and torches, let me explain…
First, I don’t want to die early…
Wait, what? What does retirement have to do with dying early? Well, there are a couple of ways that retirement can bring you to your maker a lot sooner than you’d think….
- You’re not up and about – So yeah, you think retirement is all golf and sailing in the bay? But let’s call it out for what it is: you’d spend way more time bingeing on Netflix if you could. The fact is that there are health benefits to just getting out your front door and heading off to work.
- You’re more likely to develop dementia – Leaving the workplace to early really does wreak havoc on your brain. In fact, a study in France found that leaving the workplace at 60 years old (instead of 65) increases your likelihood of dementia by 15%.
- You’re more likely to fall into “dark places” – without some sort of social stimulation, you’ll find yourself way more likely to develop abusive drug and alcohol habits. Retirement also increases your likelihood of developing depression by 40%.
- Sadly, where most of this leads – Suicide. The fact is that those 85 and older have the highest rates of suicide in the U.S. Most likely, this stems from depression, which you can lower your risk for if you… stay at work!
So there you have it. If you want to do something really terrible for your mental and physical health, then retire. Just completely stop working, start relaxing, gain a stupid amount of weight, lose friends, and have nothing but time to think about it.
Not my idea of a good time, thank you very much…
Second, I don’t want to get old…
I’m a firm believer that you are the average of the 5 people who you spend the most time with. You start to talk like them, act like them, wear what they wear, and sometimes, even get as smart as them.
So something that I’ve noticed in my quarter of a century on this blue planet is that you are who you associate with. And just by way of statistics and demographics, the older you get, the more people around you are younger.
So yeah, I’d much rather be the old guy in the office who actually knows how to send a twitter or that the Facebook is really popular or that Instagram is a way to instantly call your grandmother…
No, wait. Those aren’t right…
BUT AT LEAST I’D KNOW THAT THOSE THINGS EXIST!!!
When I’m 80, I’d much rather hang out with young people that keep me in the loop of the world as opposed to just staying at home yelling at my TV almost as much as I yell at my wife.
Side note – I would argue this is one of the hidden benefits of being a teacher, if you actually like teaching. Being around young people that much (and being on your feet that much) will do wonders for your health. So if you’re concerned about staying “cool” and “healthy” (though I don’t think any of my kiddos would describe me as cool…) teaching is a road that you might want to check out.
Third, I want to have purpose…
I recently read Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a book about the history of humans. Now, it didn’t have a ton of value to me as a personal finance blogger, but it really did have a great part towards the end about happiness in humans, and what it really means to be “happy”.
The first step to realizing what happiness is to understand what it isn’t: pleasure. Hariri goes through all these different ways that pleasure really doesn’t lead to happiness. Maybe drinking all night feels good, but you end up paying for it the next morning. Maybe doing a couple of rails and dancing all night sounds like a great idea, but a couple of months later you realize you’ve developed a terrible (AND EXPENSIVE) habit. Maybe screwing a ton of people really helps you get your rocks off and resolves any mommy/daddy issues, but eventually sex loses it’s meaning (and you might get some itches somewhere where things ought not to be itchin’).
But the point is, what tends to please people isn’t what makes them happy. It’s having a reason for getting out of bed in the morning that does. And yeah, maybe your reason kind of sucks. I don’t think anyone wakes up and wants to be a gas station attendant. But keep in mind, you’re lucky just to have a reason. It means you’re actually happier than if you didn’t have some cause to get out into the world at all.
So I have every intention of working till I can’t work anymore. Believe it or not, you’ll be happier than if you had all the time off in the world.
Fourth, people want to retire from jobs they hate!
Let’s make up a scenario: everyday, I require that you wake up at 8 and spend 9 hours Monday through Friday in various theme parks throughout the world. Your job is to have as much fun as possible, and at the end of the day rate your experience.
Another scenario: everyday, I require that you wake up at 8 and spend 9 hours Monday through Friday sitting at a desk. Your job is to track the cashflows through a company, and account for every dollar they spend. In some cases, you have to “mis-account” for every dollar they “didn’t spend” on flying those 4 escorts to Vegas for the weekend.
Which is the job your more likely to enjoy? Or a better question: which is the job that your more likely to be disappointed when you have to leave it and go home every night?
Yeah, I’d want to be hitting 6 flags and Disney on the reg, too.
Which then begs the question: Why do people want so desperately to retire? Very simply put, because they’re in a job that they don’t like. Which I know probably describes most people. After all, if everyone liked their jobs, employers probably wouldn’t pay salaries at all.
And while I know this isn’t correctable for most people, you, dear reader, are probably younger than 30, which means there is still hope for you!
So before it’s too late, make sure you try to find something that makes you feel fulfilled and happy! If you find a job you love, you won’t ever want to leave, which means you’re less likely to retire early, which means you get to prolong your life!
Yes. You are most certainly welcome. 🙂
Why I Never Want to Retire – The Wrap Up
What, that’s it?! Yes dear readers, unfortunately today’s article is rather short. I didn’t want to overwhelm you with my philosophies on life. Instead, I want you to take the data and make the best decision for you. I don’t think that I look upon retirement that favorably anymore, and here’s why:
- Retirement can kill you – Not even a quick death, but a slow painful one where you’re putting your phone in the dishwasher and spreading peanut butter on your bedspread, and you don’t even know why. Lack of stimulation will make the brain weak, so always be solving problems. ALWAYS!
- I don’t want to get old – Not only can retirement end your life early, but it can make you senile, loud, and ill-informed! Staying at work, where most people are younger than you, might actually help keep you “younger” too.
- Purpose – What purpose could there be in living in Florida six months out of the year? Stay in the workforce and you’ll find your sense of purpose is obvious.
- Retirement is fo’ the haters – If you loved what you were doing, you would never leave. So find something you love, and do it for 50 years.
Now it’s your turn!
- Do you think retirement is a good thing? Or a way to accelerate the inevitable end we all must face?
- Have you been able to find a job you love so much that you wouldn’t want to retire from it?
- Have I gone completely insane and alienated the financial community by suggesting that retirement is a bad thing?
Gloves off, people… comment below!
Keep trying to crack the code,