Early retirement is a dream millions of Americans share. But although the goal is the same, the reasons for wanting to quit work at a younger age differ from worker to worker.
Recently, Northwestern Mutual interviewed more than 2,300 adults for its 2021 Planning & Progress Study. About 11% of these respondents said they now plan to retire earlier than they had planned before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of those who plan to retire early, almost half — 48% — are moving up their timeline by between three and five years. The two youngest generations of adults now expect to retire before the age of 60, on average: Gen Z at 59.4 years old and millennials at 59.5 years old.
Following are the most commonly cited reasons among all age groups for planning to leave the workforce early.
4. Work situation has changed
People moving up their target retirement age for this reason: 28%
Sometimes, we choose early retirement. But in other cases, the end of our career is chosen for us.
That may be true of the 28% of survey respondents who said they are moving up their retirement date because they were laid off or experienced another change in their work situation.
If you no longer love your job but want to keep working, check out “20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees.”
3. Realizing that a personal mission is more important than saving more
People moving up their target retirement age for this reason: 29%
Money is important. We need it to feed and clothe ourselves, and to put a roof over our heads.
But few of us would contend that money is the most important thing in life. Among survey respondents, 29% said they will retire early because they have a personal mission that is a higher priority than adding more nickels and dimes to their nest egg.
2. Focusing on hobbies/priorities outside of work
People moving up their target retirement age for this reason: 33%
Work provides a sense of purpose and even fun for millions of people. But for millions of others, it is simply a drag.
That may be why 33% of survey respondents want to retire early so they can focus on more rewarding hobbies and other pursuits without being weighed down by their 9-to-5 work obligations.
Curious as to how retirees will use that extra time? Read “Top 5 Activities People Dream of Doing in Retirement.”
1. Wanting to spend more time with loved ones
People moving up their target retirement age for this reason: 42%
Our time on this earth is relatively brief. The window of opportunity to spend with loved ones is even shorter.
As the old cliche goes, nobody says on their deathbed, “I wish I had spent a few more hours in the office.” Spending time with loved ones is the top reason people cite for wanting to retire early, with 42% of survey respondents saying this is their motivation.
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