Should I Retire, Even if My Wife Is Vehemently Opposed?

Dear Penny,

I’ve worked hard for 32 years since college to build a good career and save money.

I’m in my mid-50s. I want to retire because I don’t enjoy work, and the stress is affecting my health.

I have no debt, own three houses and have a net worth of $5 million, but my wife won’t agree to me retiring before 60. I think she fears what other people will think. Any suggestions?

– R.

Dear R.,

Everyone you know has way too much going on in their own lives to sit around pondering the circumstances around your retirement.

In the very unlikely event that they gave it so much as a passing thought, they’d probably conclude that you were successful and got a head start on the good life a little early as a result.

So if your wife really has said she doesn’t want you to retire because she’s worried what others will think, I offer her my words of comfort.

But wait! Did your wife actually say that?

you say you think she fears what other people will think. This sounds like your hypothesis. Have you tried having an actual conversation about what she’s actually thinking?

Before we delve into what could be giving your wife pause, let me acknowledge the obvious: This is a really good problem to have. I get so many letters from people who are in their 50s and 60s with virtually nothing saved for retirement. Often, the problem is compounded by crushing debt.

You, however, have a seven-figure nest egg, three homes and no debt. You have a comfortable retirement ahead of you — your only dilemma is when that comfortable retirement begins.

But there’s a bigger issue at play here.

Retirement marks a huge lifestyle change. Planning for retirement ideally involves a lot more than planning for life beyond a paycheck.

But often the focus of retirement planning is solely financial because most people are woefully lacking in savings. Just getting to retirement in this lifetime is the goal.

Money is just part of the picture….

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