A New Reason To Take Social Security Early?

Factoring in quality of life into your Social Security timing.

Gil Weinrich's podcast took a look at some of the common reasons people take Social Security early, like ages 62 and 63, including being financially strapped and also expectations of dying early. But he also put another one on the table that is more interesting, getting to about 60 years old and feeling burnt out. He spelled out a very plausible scenario where someone this age is burned out at work, feeling their age physically (he talked about being a little overweight and having more pain) and being squeezed by demands from their parents and college aged children.

He posits that this scenario is more common than you might think and someone facing some combination of these issues (some or all) may want to be less concerned with squeezing the last possible dollar out of Social Security via waiting to an older age or taking it early in hopes that the income stream will relieve some portion of the stress caused by the above circumstances. Removing a job that you don't like from the equation certainly could improve quality of life.

The potential tradeoff obviously is having to downsize your lifestyle financially. Retiring at 60 can have a big portfolio impact if the original plan had been 65 as not only does the portfolio need to sustain for five years longer, it's five years less of contributions and a bite is taken out of the compounding benefit versus allowing the entire portfolio to compound.

While the circumstance of all those stressors hitting would make life more difficult I feel as though some of his list can be foreseen and mitigated somewhat (a lot or or a little). Dissatisfaction at work certainly doesn't need to wait until until you're 60. I've cited Mark Baker (@guruanaerobic on Twitter) quite a few times here before. He focuses on a few different things including what he calls being unemployable which at a high level means not being beholden to an employer and that employer's ability to determine your schedule. One way to be unemployable, my chosen way, is to be self employed. Hopefully the odds of being burned out will be much less when you work for yourself doing what you love. No one is too old to pursue trying to derive an income from something they love doing but there are no shortcuts. The more you put in, the more you will get out.

As far as feeling your age, you know what I am going to say here. This is something where many of us are able to determine our outcome with a good diet and proper exercise. My idea on how to do this is a low carb diet, time restricted feeding and high intensity weightlifting (I also use the stairclimber, jump rope and hike). The benefits of all of this are immense, follow me on Twitter @randomroger to see detailed content that I find and retweet, but there is no one who doesn't know this. You are far less likely to feel your age if you look like you're 10 or 20 years younger than your age and are not overweight as Gil suggests.

You probably have less control over being financially sandwiched between your parents and your kids but if you've mitigated the stressors that you do have more control over then it hopefully makes sandwich stress less overwhelming.

A final point that pertains in the optionality you create for yourself starting long before you get 60 or some similar age where retiring earlier than planned is viable. If you've lived below your means for much/most of your adult life then you should more saved than living at your means. You would also have a smaller monthly nut to cover which makes an earlier retirement easier to implement.

Where part of Gil's premise is about unforeseen circumstances, you are in a far better position to manage those circumstances to a successful outcome by virtue of owning your time, being very fit and having more money in the bank. Again, it is never too late start on any of these.

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