Saturday, June 10, 2006

Early retirement

Coffee with Amee muses about A Life Between Jobs. According to Amee's source, a New York Times article, it's a phenomenon among younger people where they choose to quit their jobs and use that time as a long vacation. I can so relate.

My own philosophy on this was greatly influenced by an article or book I read some time ago. Was it Charles Handy, or some other writer, I wonder? The conventional way of approaching life is to work until you're 65 and retire. But that's a model that's breaking down. In fact, it's been broken for quite a while.

With the present medical state of the art, life spans have increased to a high average of 80 years of age; on the other hand, our bodies start breaking down at about 60, if not earlier, owing to lifestyle diseases. So what does the old model give you? About fifteen years to twenty years of medical bills and aches.

Really, why should a person retire at the age of 65? It might have been a valid assumption two generations ago when people worked with more their hands and less with their brains; these days it's the other way around. A mentally sharp 65-year old can do just as much work as a younger person, and that senior citizen would have the benefit of experience and insight. Indeed, we might even argue that senior citizens need to work in order to keep their minds sharp.

So why not turn it around? Retire at some point in mid-life, say two to five years, and subtract that balance from the twenty years of retirement that would have come at the tail end of life.

In my case, I'm taking an early retirement, a privilege afforded by frugal living in my twenties. Will I go back to join the workforce? Eventually. That means I'll be working well beyond 70 years of age, but so what? When I do, it'll be with the benefit of additional life experiences ...and several hundred kilometers of bike trips.