Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.  If you are one of the lucky ones, even a job you enjoy doing can become tedious after many years.  If you’re grinding through your days, what do you do?  Launch a new career, or plan for early retirement?  The U.S. Census Bureau states that the average retirement age in the United States is 63 years old.

One of the biggest challenges to early retirement is figuring out how to pay for health care.  Regarding health care coverage, “early” retirement would be before age 65, at which time most Americans become eligible for Medicare.  You’ll pay a hefty premium until you become Medicare-eligible.  If you’re exiting the workforce before age 65, plan on budgeting $500 to $1,000 a month per person to purchase health insurance.  Once on Medicare, you still pay premiums, but they’re more affordable, often less than half of what you were paying before going on Medicare.

Another item you must plan for is the number of years you’ll need to live off your retirement.  A 60-year-old retiree needs their financial assets to have a 30-year shelf life.  To make your assets last, you either need to save a lot more or plan on spending less.  You can’t count on the market to make up the difference; it’s anyone’s guess as to whether your first decade of retirement will be a boom decade or a bust.

If you’re early in your career, decide now if you want to work overtime, spend little and pile money into savings so you can exit the workforce early.  And, keep in mind, there’s nothing wrong with opting for a lifelong career either.

Early retirement isn’t for everyone.  What makes early retirement challenging for some is having too much time on their hands.  Give thought to what you will do with your time.  If you have hobbies, passions, family activities and volunteer work that you’ve always wanted to pursue, retirement may feel like a dream. But if your sense of self-satisfaction comes from contributions at work, retirement can feel empty.

If you’re part of a couple, you’ll need to make sure you’re on the same page.  What if one of you pictures days of arts and crafts classes while the other dreams of traveling to third-world countries to volunteer?  You’ll need to figure out how to negotiate a joint retirement dream or make a plan that allows you each to pursue your passions, but perhaps not both at the same time.