Time to be heroic
Question: My plan is to earn as much as I can while I am still young and then retire at 50, enjoy the
rest of my life vacationing and perhaps engage in charitable work. Is that a feasible life goal? (from “Ask a friend, ask Efren” free service available at www.personalfinance.ph, Facebook or via SMS)
Answer: If that is the life goal you want, then go for it. People do not really want to be slaves to their careers for most of their life.
Just a word of caution though, life expectancies are getting longer. And with longer life expectancies come added living expenses, including long-term health care. You might just underestimate what you and your family will need if you retire early. You would not want to rely on your children who will be struggling with their own family finances at the time you enter your retirement, would you?
While retiring early is ideal, working up to a ripe old age is better. The residents of Sardinia, an island off Italy actually has a ratio of male to female centenarians at 1:1. The global ratio is 1:4. People in Sardinia are not rich. Yet, people there live up to 100 and more because they are always active, taking part in town gatherings, socializing with their neighbors. More importantly, the elderly in Sardinia are treated with respect for their wisdom. As a result, Sardinia’s elderly feel they are still of value to their community.
I am not saying that you die with your boots on. The people of Sardinia do retire from work, but they remain active in their community.
“Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: ‘If anyone will not work, let him not eat.’ Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.” (III.2.2.7.IV.2427 Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Of course, you might say that doing work for charities is also work in and of itself. That is true. But why wait until after you retire?
It is said that you cannot give what you do not have. Yet, you already have what is needed to allow you to give and they are your talents given you at the time you were born. You need not be wealthy.
“And looking around, he saw the wealthy putting their donations into the offertory. Then he also saw a certain widow, a pauper, putting in two small brass coins. And he said: ‘Truly, I say to you, that this poor widow has put in more than all the others. For all these, out of their abundance, have added to the gifts for God. But she, out of what she needed, has put in all that she had to live on.’” (Luke 21:1-4)
Giving out of your abundance is great. But giving out of your need is heroic.
So, in answer to your question, it would be better to work up to the normal retirement age, which is late in life, and to start giving early.