Like a lot of people, you probably think early retirement is the stuff dreams are made of. But before you buy into the scenario that has two silver-haired foxes walking along the tropical beach hand-in-hand, here are five reasons why retiring early is probably not going to happen for you:
1. You can't afford it.
You knew that, right? The biggest fear of most retirees is that they will outlive their money. Once you retire, your nest egg likely won't grow larger in any measurable sort of way -- in fact, just maintaining it may be a challenge -- so whatever amount you have saved needs to stretch for however long you live. And we are living longer. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 65-year-old men have about 18 years of life left and 65-year-old women about 20.5 years.
2. Collecting Social Security early is a bad, bad idea for most people.
While you are legally able to start drawing Social Security benefits when you reach 62, experts caution against doing so. When you start collecting early, the amount of those monthly benefits will be reduced -- forever. If you wait until you are 66 to begin collecting, you will get the full amount. And if you can delay a few more years until 70, that monthly amount will increase. If your full benefit amount at age 66 would be $1,000, you would get $750 a month if you started collecting at 62 and $1,320 a month if you waited until you were 70.
3. Your early retirement plan includes a part-time job.
This idea will get you an official "Moonstruck" slap.
You silly goose; you can't work and collect at the same time! Well, you can, but it will cost you mightily. The way Social Security works is to reduce your benefits if you are working and earn more than the established annual limit. If you are younger than full retirement age -- if you were born between 1/2/1943 and 1/1/1955, your full retirement age is 66 -- and make more than the yearly earnings limit, your earnings may reduce what Social Security gives you; $1 is deducted from your monthly payment for every $2 you earn over $15,720 in 2015.
That work penalty goes away at age 66, not when you retire early and try to supplement your income with some part- or full-time work.
4. Your spouse may not be ready to retire at the same time.
When one person retires and their partner is still working, the door to relationship conflict opens. Generally speaking, it will require a shift in attitude at the very least. The person who no longer goes to work every day will be expected to pick up more of the household slack. Travel may still be limited to the few weeks of vacation a year that the working spouse gets. Most couples do not retire at the exact same time, said University of Minnesota sociology professor Phyllis Moen, who has studied mixed-retirement couples. She told the Huffington Post in 2013 that "Employed wives whose husbands are retired completely report the highest marital conflict . . . many feel their husbands aren't doing enough around the house."
5. You only thought you launched the kids.
In the days of old, once the youngest kid graduated college, parents were done. That's right: After setting aside something for weddings and grandkids, basically you could begin living for numero uno. Back then, kids found jobs, got apartments of their own, and if graduate school was in the cards, it was on their dime. It just doesn't go down like that anymore. The highest rate of unemployment after teenagers is among 20- to 24-year-olds. It's a case of life imitating "Girls." Adult children stay on the family dole longer -- and for that reason alone, you likely won't be able to retire early.