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The best and worst reasons for retiring early





The client had a goal: He wanted to retire early to one day golf in the Senior PGA Tour. Dan McElwee, executive vice president and wealth manager with Ventura Wealth Management in Princeton, N.J., already knew that his client could afford to leave the workforce early. He had a pension that would pay out 85 percent of his annual salary as a police officer.

McElwee's client faced one big question though: Was retiring at the age of 48 -- which the client planned -- leaving the workforce too early?

McElwee thought not. This client had a particular goal in mind for how he was going to spend his retirement years, and that made retiring at an early age the right decision.

Unfortunately, too many others who retire early don't have such a plan. They retire for all the wrong reasons, such as being bored at work. When they leave the workforce, they find that they're bored at home too. They planned for the savings side of retirement, but they didn't come up with a strategy for how they were going to fill their days.

"For my client, there was no reason to stay in the workforce," McElwee said. "Why should he go into work every day at a job that put his life at risk if he didn't need to? It really was a no-brainer for him."

It's rarely such a no-brainer for others though. The decision to retire early takes plenty of thought, even if you are financially set for retirement at 50.

Here are some of the best -- and worst -- reasons to retire early.

Best: You want to pursue a passion

Ron Grensteiner, president in the Des Moines, Iowa, office of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company, says that the best reason to retire early is to follow a new dream.

Grensteiner himself says he plans to open a UPS store after retiring. Why? He describes himself as a "customer-service nut."

"I can take the skills I learned in the insurance business and use them in a new business," Grensteiner says. "I can bring excellent service to my customers. That's something I'd really like to do."

Those retiring early? They need to find they really like to do too. Otherwise those hours at home can get awfully tedious.

Best: You want to preserve your health

Some have to retire early for health reasons. Maybe their jobs require hard labor that is wrecking their bodies. Grensteiner says that retiring early to preserve your health -- as long as you can afford the move -- makes sense.

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