Medical issues, inadequate savings, fear. These are only some of the reasons we choose to delay retirement (whatever your age may be). What about family? If you’ve been a long-time reader at Save the Effort, you’ll know how I feel about helping my undeserving relatives. (Read more here.) Yet, they remain my biggest concern about pulling the RE (retire early) trigger.

Sunset
Travel your own path

Reasons I haven’t pulled the RE trigger:

  • Uncertainty
  • Guilt
  • Fear
  • Family

Uncertainty

Since Covid hit in early 2020, the financial turbulence in our net worth has been off the charts. The market has been on a roller coaster ride and the thought of early retirement seems like a pipe dream.

S&P 500 – YTD 2020

Actually, the market has recovered most of the gains from the crash in March, but who’s counting? Regardless, our crystal ball for the stock market is broken, so the financial uncertainty(and therefore the future) is here to stay.

One solution? Turn to the experts! They know exactly how the stock market will perform in the future.

From our experts:

  • The stock market will soar regardless of who wins the US election.
  • The stock market is detached from economic reality. A reckoning is coming. [Or winter, one of the two]
  • The stock market is in a pullback, it’s worst since March.
  • Stock market outlook, 3 volatile weeks, then pure excitement.

Well, which is it? Doom and gloom or “pure excitement.” Who knows. If history repeats itself (and it usually does), we’ll be fine in the long term. Then again…what if it isn’t fine?

Guilt

Self-condemnation, remorse, regret, shame, it’s all the same. We all feel some sort of guilt in our life and early retirement is a huge source for me (and that ice cream I just ate). I am both simultaneously proud of the decisions and sacrifices I’ve made to become FI (financially independent) and racked with guilt over the prospect of calling it quits decades before my parents. My parents (now 64 & 65) are still working, with a very uncertain future in sight. I don’t know how to tell them I’m FI and most days, I don’t want to tell them.

“Guilt is the thief of life.”

Anthony Hopkins

Hello Clarice.

I digress. (More life lessons from Hopkins found here.) Guilt may be the thief of life, but it still exists, especially in the eyes of society.

If you ask others how they feel about the younger generation retiring in their 30’s or 40’s, the answers are varied and usually attached to venom.

“Dropping out of the workforce while still in one’s prime means ending one’s contributions to America’s strength, mortgaging our children’s and grandchildren’s future and leeching trillions of taxpayer dollars from the economy.”

Andrew L Yarrow, US Historian & Author

or this:

“You want more time for selfish pursuits.”

The Minimalist Mom

and there’s always this:

“Retiring at 35 might be good for you, but it’s bad for the rest of us”

Geoff Collins, Community Services

If I were to overcome the guilt I feel from my family for retiring early, how will I also overcome the guilt society will have for me? Or friends?

Fear

I already know the uncertainty of the market performance will persist, but what about everything else?

Fear ControlRemedy
Running out of money HighGo back to work, get a side-gig
Health IssuesMediumHealthy lifestyle, insurance, luck
Family problemsLowSend them money
BoredomHighEndless activities to pursue
Drag on societyHighVolunteer work, supporting a cause
Retirement Fears

Three out of five issues I’ve identified have a high degree of personal control. What about the other two?

Health

There’s always the standard answer of watching your diet and getting enough exercise to drive most ailments away. In fact, an article posted in New York Times pegged the value of exercise at $2,500 a year. The requirements weren’t too onerous. Just 30 minutes of walking 5-days a week was enough to make a difference.

How much is a $2,500 savings every year worth after 20 years? Over $178K. Wowzers! I like the sound of that. I get to stay healthy AND save money. (Related: The power of compounding.)

Power of compounding

With diet and exercise all squared away, what about other more serious issues? (especially with my love of all things sugar).

Insurance is the second line of defense in the battle of health issues that may come up. With the ridiculous cost of medical care in the U.S., even something as simple as a broken bone, or seasonal flu can cause great financial hardship in a budget. Luckily, insurance costs can be estimated over the course of one’s lifetime.

Insurance costs can be impacted by a number of different factors including age, where you live, smoking use, the type of policy purchased, deductibles, co-insurance, etc. The choices are almost limitless and almost never cheap. So how can we calculate an average amount of insurance costs?

Factors to consider:

  1. Premiums
  2. Copays & Co-Insurance
  3. Out-of-pocket maximum

The most conservative approach to calculating your maximum liability for insurance is the consider your annual premiums and maximum out-of-pocket for a calendar year. The only flaw in this approach is using out-of-network providers or needing experimental or otherwise uncovered medical treatments. Since we can’t predict every black swan scenario that might occur in life, we can at least count the big-ticket items. A great resource to estimate your costs can be found at Healthcare.gov.

Let’s look at an example:

Premium $5,000 Annually
Co-Insurance30%
Deductible$2,500
Co-Pay$20
Out-of-Pocket Maximum$10,000
Sample Health Policy

Estimating the cost of your medical premiums over your lifetime is a lot easier than determining your actual medical costs over that same period. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that prices for medical care were 3,772.65% higher in 2020 versus 1947. While the overall inflation rate was approx 3.41% during the same period, the medical inflation cost rate was approx 5.12% per year. Assuming our premium is $5,000 annually, our hypothetical policy is going to cost $167,442 dollars over 20 years, and that excludes actually using the coverage.

Sample Estimated Medical Premiums

We also have an out-of-pocket maximum of $10,000 annually (growing at 5.12%). Presuming you end up needing to use your policy and you max-out your out-of-pocket maximum for the year, the picture gets bleaker. In year 1, you’re looking at $15,000 in total costs. This wouldn’t include any experimental treatments or out-of-network costs you may rack up.

Medical Premiusm and Out of Pocket Maximums
Sample Estimated Max Medical Costs

Many factors can influence how much you ultimately may pay for insurance. This example shows someone that started with an annual premium of $5,000 and a $10,000 out-of-pocket maximum would probably end up paying somewhere between $167,442 and $502,326 for medical-related issues over 20-years. An eye-watering amount, but one that can be planned for.

Family Problems

Oy. No easy answer here. The question becomes, how much to allocate (if any) for helping family members?

What kind of financial aid would you be able or willing to provide?

  • Housing or rent payments?
  • Groceries?
  • Medical premiums or prescriptions?
  • Cell phone?
  • Car payments?
  • Insurance?
  • Landscaping?
  • Improving the quality of their life? (House remodels, new furniture, personal grooming services?)
  • Leisure activities? (Vacations, fun events, gifts for special occasions?)

Where does the assistance begin and where does it stop? More importantly, what kind of support are we talking about?

In 2019, 69.1 Million people in the US receive benefits from SS. The average monthly benefits for retired workers is $1,563. That’s $18,576 annually.

Average Benefit Amounts, 2019
Average Monthly SSA Benefit 2019
Average Monthly Living Costs
Housing (1-bedroom rental)$1,078
Medical Costs$416
Food Costs$550
Car Insurance$129
Car Payment (used car)$381
Cell phone bill$114
Utilities$112
Fun$50
Misc$100
Total$2,930
Average monthly living costs

The costs listed above represent nationwide averages for various monthly expensives. With 21% of married couples and 45% of unmarried persons relying on social security for 90% of their wages, you can start to see a huge gap forming in potential future liabilities. Remember, the average wage of social security is only $1,563 per month versus the average monthly living costs of $2,930. Are you prepared to fork over $1,367 per family member you want to help, EVERY month in perpetuity?

Average amount per family member for 20 years
YearMonthly $ Yearly Cost
1           1,367         16,404
2           1,414         16,963
3           1,486         17,832
4           1,562         18,745
5           1,642         19,705
6           1,726         20,714
7           1,815         21,774
8           1,907         22,889
9           2,005         24,061
10           2,108         25,293
11           2,216         26,588
12           2,329         27,949
13           2,448         29,380
14           2,574         30,884
15           2,705         32,465
16           2,844         34,128
17           2,990         35,875
18           3,143         37,712
19           3,304         39,643
20           3,473         41,672
 Total         45,056      540,675
Estimated Costs over 20 years at 3.41% Inflation

An extra half a million bucks to support members is not in my early retirement budget. Is it in yours?

Family

It’s no secret that most people don’t save enough for retirement or have an exit plan and my family is not immune. Layering on the uncertainty of the economic landscape with Covid has exacerbated this greatly.

Since Mr Mouse called it quits from his job back in March, the reactions to his exit from the work-force have been met with varied reactions.

“So has he found a new job yet?”

Dad

or this:

“Since you’re not working, will drive/fly 2,000+ miles to help me move? My husband isn’t available to help.” (Ignore the raging pandemic).

Sister

and of course this:

“What are you actually going to spend your days doing? BORING!”

Multiple people

and finally…

Met with silence/disbelief.

Everyone else.

If the reactions to his early retirement aren’t enough, the financial impact of early retirement and the need to help our relatives has already started.

Financial Impacts

The Dad

My Dad (as most Americans), subscribes to the, “If I made it, I’m spending it” club. Not to say he isn’t a fighter and will continue to work and hustle for money until the end. His financial choices over the years could have been much improved, with the biggest improvement being saving for the future. Changing careers multiple times over the years and working at establishments without a retirement plan really put him behind the 8-ball.

Several years ago, he decided to start his own business as an independent truck driver. A feast or famine job which requires discipline to save for retirement and a little luck. As luck has it, he wasn’t doing too bad until the pandemic hit. Truck drivers across the nation watched as business dried up and revenue plummeted. Not to mention the heightened risk of being exposed to a potentially deadly virus. While the trucking industry has started a slow recovery, the unfortunate extra expenses started piling up. Several medical issues, a large truck repair bill, and fewer opportunities for work created a shortfall that required credit cards to solve. I soon learned one of my siblings sent a large check to help out and the money was happily accepted. Now what? Not knowing much about my father’s financial situation (other than what I’ve been able to piece together) and being reluctant to start writing checks about a situation that was completely preventable, left a sour taste in my mouth. So soon into phase 1 of our early retirement (Mr Mouse first and me to follow in a year), we were already faced with writing checks.

The Sister

My sister has always been somewhat of a massive financial train wreck (Related: When your family ignores your financial advice) and 2020 is shaping up to further reinforce the tornado that follows her.

With Covid wreaking havoc on the service industry, it’s no wonder my sister was laid off from her job. She had just completed the purchase of her new family home (less than 1 year before) and was now faced with the prospect of selling the house and finally moving in with her husband who was living thousands of miles away.

Luckily the housing market is oddly performing quite well given the low inventory on the market. She was able to get the house under contract in a reasonable period of time. In the mean-time (ignoring the loss of her job), it was time for some vacations.

Heading to Atlanta for Talladega nights! PARTAAAY!
Just booked a trip to Cancun! Flying there straight after Atlanta.

Best laid plans always seem to get derailed along the way. A day after landing in paradise, Hurricane Delta, estimated to be a CAT 4, was barreling straight towards her. With less than 9 days before closing is to commence, she may be stranded in paradise longer than expected. This throws the moving plan and the closing date into uncertainty. We’ve already said helping out with the move is out of the question given the distance involved…but…should we send money to help? She is family after all…

Early Retirement Delayed, for Now

For now, it looks like my retirement will be delayed. I’m taking the “wait & see approach” and would like to have a few more answers before pulling the plug.

  1. Who will win the presidential election and what impact (if any) will it have on the stock market?
  2. Will Covid get worse over the winter and what impact will that have on the economic outlook?
  3. Does our family’s financial outlook stabilize or take a drastic turn for the worst?
  4. Will I come up with a plan to combat boredom or dabble in a second career?
Crystal ball in winter
Image by Jordan Holiday from Pixabay.

Until my crystal ball becomes a little more clear, it’s status quo at the corporate grind.

The information contained on this website is for entertainment purposes only and references only opinions of the author. Nothing contained within should be considered professional, financial, legal, tax, psychological, health, safety or investment advice. Seek advice from a duly licensed and/or registered professional that can help with your specific situation.