In 2012, I retired from my engineering career. It was the best decision I ever made. The technical career wasn’t the right fit for me anymore. I was miserable and my physical and mental health suffered. After I quit, life improved tremendously. Fortunately, the stock market had a great run and we’re still doing well financially. I really love early retirement. That’s why I blog about it and encourage everyone to give FIRE a shot. Early retirement gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. It’s fantastic. However, I’m beginning to change my mind. Now, I think most people (99.999%) should keep working instead of trying to retire early. Early retirement isn’t a good fit for everyone. Work gives us structure and purpose. Meaningful and fulfilling work is way better than retirement. Also, it’s not good for society if everyone retires by 40. Today, let’s imagine what would happen if everyone retires early.
Traffic would worsen
Ugh, I hate traffic jams. I used to drive about an hour to and from work. That was years ago and the rush hour traffic has worsen since. Luckily, I rarely have to deal with a traffic jam after retirement. I avoid rush hour traffic and only drive when it’s not too busy.
If everyone retires early, the traffic jam would improve during rush hours. But it would worsen during off-hours. Retirees would clog the roads at 10 am. There’d be a ton more cars on the road when I’m out and about. That’s not good.
Stores/gym would be busier
These days I go grocery shopping and work out around 9 am. That’s the perfect time to do errands. The grocery store, gym, Walmart, and Home Depot are pretty quiet around this time. I used to go do these errands after work or on the weekend and those places were way busier. Costco is the worse. On weekends, that place is like a zoo. The parking lot is always packed and shoppers clog up the isles. That’s why I hated shopping at Costco. It’s way too busy. The gym is another place I didn’t like to go after work. It’s always super busy. I’d always had to stand around waiting for weights or a machine to open up. Now, working out and shopping is much more enjoyable.
If everyone retires early, all these places will become busier at 9 am. That’s terrible. Shopping and working out will go back to being tedious chores again.
Too many volunteers at school
This one is just for the parents. I’m already having a hard time finding an opportunity to volunteer at RB40Jr’s school. I guess there are many stay-at-home parents here. Lots of people are volunteering in the PTA, fundraising committees, and various classroom activities. I wanted to be a driver/chaperone when the kids went on a field trip, but 10 positions disappeared in about 15 minutes. What the?
If more parents retire early, then they’d be more involved at school. That’s a great thing for the kids and the school. But I wouldn’t be able to volunteer at all. Actually, more volunteers at school is a good thing. I shouldn’t complain about this one.
Leisure activities will cost more
The economy is all about supply and demand. More retirees mean more demand for leisure and hobby activities during office hours. That’s not good. The price will increase across the board and discounts will disappear. Happy hours and matinee pricing won’t be a good strategy for businesses any more. Why give a discount if everyone can come in during those hours? I think many off-peak discounts will disappear if everyone retires early.
No more $5 happy hour pizza.
Why does every early retiree write a FIRE blog? When I started blogging in 2010, there were only 3 early retirement blogs. Now, there are hundreds of FIRE blogs and podcasts. That’s too much competition. How am I supposed to stand out with so many good writers and speakers sharing their stories? Even the mainstream media is getting into the action. There are lots stories about early retirement in the news now. It’s crazy. Can’t we go back to 2010?
Economy would tank
Lastly, the economy would tank if everyone joins the FIRE movement. We live a modest lifestyle and save a big percentage of our income. If everyone lives like we do, consumer demand for everything would decrease tremendously. People would minimize going to expensive events, costly remodeling, and avoid luxury vehicles. They’d cook at home more and eat out less. Brewing your own coffee would replace going to Starbucks. Economic activities would slow down across the board and companies would suffer. That would result in a prolonged stock market downturn.
In fact, we’re getting a preview of this with the COVID-19 outbreak. Consumers are staying home a lot more and they’re not spending as much money. The stock market is tanking because economic activities will drop until this coronavirus situation is resolved. Kids aren’t going to school. College campuses are closing down. Workers are told to stay home. It’s not a pretty picture. Fortunately, the coronavirus should be a temporary problem. Eventually, a vaccine will be available and we’ll go back to business as usual.
Please don’t retire early
In conclusion, please don’t retire early. It’s bad for the economy and it will degrade the lifestyle of current retirees. There are many downsides to early retirement. You won’t have as much income. Health insurance will be a big problem. And you won’t be able to hang out with your friends (aka coworkers.) Most people will be bored in retirement. It is way better to keep working so you can spend more. We need everyone to help prop up the American consumerism economy.
What do you think would happen if everyone retires by 40? That’s no good right?
If you insist on trying to retire early and blogging about it, you can read my guide – How to start a blog and why you should. Heck, even if you don’t want to retire early, you should start a blog. There aren’t too many anti-FIRE blogs right now. Get in while it’s still wide open.
Image credit: Nicholas Green
Source: Retire By 40
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