What does a personal finance blog have to do with extending your life? Well, I wasn’t so sure until I started thinking about this over the weekend. This past Saturday I attended the funeral of an uncle. I hadn’t been to a funeral in years – thankfully – so I hadn’t thought in-depth about life and death a whole lot.
I found that I generally take this gift of life I have for granted, until something like the death of someone close to me provides a good reminder that life is a gift. Every day I’m here on this earth is special.
I easily lose sight of this when I’m getting up, wolfing down breakfast, rushing off to work, working my tail off, chowing down lunch at my desk, running back home, getting myself to yoga, running errands and cooking dinner before collapsing into bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. The whirlwind of everyday life sometimes causes us to lose sight of what’s important and how great living is!
The main reason why I want to retire by 42, and I’m 33 now, is that I want to have the choice of what I do with every day. If I want to sleep in, make breakfast, sweep the driveway in my pajamas, and spend the rest of the day in a kiddie pool eating pizza and drinking wine then so be it. As much as I would like to do this, and yes, I will at least once, I am convinced that after I retire early I will be as busy or busier than I am now. But to have the choice of what I do with my day is my goal. No more boss telling me what I need to do, no more inbox full of emails asking me to do things I don’t want to do or posing problems I have to find solutions for. And no more meetings!
My uncle, whose funeral I attended, was 70 years old. His death was unexpected. He was in great health and should have lived many more years even considering that the life expectancy of American males is 75.6.
He retired in his 60’s like most folks do after working for 40+ years. That is a long time to work if you think about it. If one works 40 hours a week and gets 5 weeks of paid time off (between vacation, sick time and holidays) that comes to 1,880 hours a year spent on the job. And that doesn’t even count commuting time!
Multiply that over 40 years and we’re looking at 75,000+ hours! It’s a number like that which really pushes me to set a goal of working 20 years and then retiring.
So, you might be asking, how does retiring early let you live a longer life? I’m not going to reveal to you that I have discovered an untapped fountain of youth or some cool shortcut that will add years to your life, because I haven’t.
Here’s some data.
First, there’s a study, based on Boeing employees, that concludes for every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on average. As much as I’d like this study to be true, it has been refuted by Boeing itself, which states there is no correlation between retirement age and life expectancy.
Second, there’s a study on Shell employees that concludes the opposite – early retirees had shorter life expectancies than those who retired later. That’s concerning!
I think that neither of this studies can be considered conclusive. What I do know is that the gift of life is special, our time on earth is short, and I don’t want to spend any more time working for the man than I have to, plus, by retiring early you now have the time to do the things that will let you live a longer life!
These things are:
1. Eating well
Most people on the go don’t have time to eat healthy. By retiring early you will have the time to plan for, shop, and cook healthy meals at home (which is cheaper too!).
There will be no excuse that there isn’t enough time to exercise when you don’t have a 9-5! And this isn’t just physical exercise, mental too. Healthy body and mind.
3. Resting and sleeping
Families with 2 working parents plus kids and a dog know that getting a good nights sleep and taking time to rest is a luxury. You can now get your needed rest. You won’t even need to set an alarm clock!
4. Giving back
Taking time to volunteer and give back to your community helps build a stronger sense of self, well-being, purpose and the feeling of being part of something bigger.
5. Reducing stress
My number one cause of stress? Work! I think my job has deleterious effects on my health and by eliminating this cause it will greatly reduce my tension and anxiety. And I don’t even have a nasty boss or toxic work environment. Additionally, balancing work life and home life is a cause of stress for people because people are just too busy.
photo credit: Heavy