Retirement At 40, Would You Really Want To?

At a time many of us consider the peak of your life, would you really want to give up your career at 40 for a camper van? 

The new Channel 4 show, ‘How To Retire At 40’ introduces us to the thrifty savers that have managed to retire in their 40s, decades before the national average retirement age which will be 66 by 2019.

For the average 40 year-old, retirement seems decades away. Many have younger children at home and are busy building up a pension fund, leaving us asking – how could they possibly retire now?

How do they do it?

With plenty of brutal saving and intricate planning, that’s how. These are not stories of well-heeled retirement, instead more resembling of Scrooge with one couple even doing the equivalent of the 5:2 diet only with money and limiting spending to the weekends.

Retired at 40 couple, the Buckleys, lived an extremely frugal lifestyle to finish working so young! They banned the purchase of new clothes and birthday presents, as well as unnecessary treats, to save over half of their earnings. They managed to reduce their income to 13,000 a year, pay off their mortgage, and are now travelling across Europe, in their campervan.

Credit: Istock

To retire at 40 it is estimated that you need to have saved at least 50% of your earnings. So for retirement at 40 to be a reality, you will need to cut out all spending on luxurious extras, and reduce your living budget as much as possible.


Early retirement can be feasible for anyone and not just the wealthy, a life of frugality is a price most people aren’t willing to pay.

At such an age where many of us consider to be at our peak in life, content with the point you’re at in your career while still having aspirations to further your knowledge and skills.

An image of over 40s working at a computer next to a window.

We’re Working Past 60 (never mind 40)

  • 1.2 million people aged 65+ are still earning a wage into their 70s
  • 2x the amount of women are working past 70, compared to 2012
  • 2024 is the year that workers aged 50+ will be the largest group in employment

Top doctor Prof. Dame Sally Davies says staying in work was one way to boost health:

  • Life expectancy has soared into the 80s (84 for men/86 for women) giving you more time to earn retirement funds… or run out of them if you retire too early!
  • Employee benefits- if you continue working longer you will feel financial benefits

Not surprisingly, the majority are choosing to do this simply because they enjoy working! We are happy to remain in the working environment as long as we can, to stay energetic, and keep our brains working.

So while the 40-year-old’s that have lived a frugal life, retire. We’ll still be enjoying a lively work environment, building relationships and treating ourselves to the occasional dinner out, trip away or hot new gadget.

Celebs aged 40 and beyond still working hard:

Gary Lineker – 56

Farewell NYC. It's been a blast.

A post shared by Gary Lineker (@garylineker) on

England record goal scorer and match of the day legend Lineker isn’t disappearing from our screens anytime soon. At 56, Gary Lineker is a fan favourite for his quick-witted Twitter responses, as well as his likable TV personality, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down at all.

Madonna – 58

The Queen of Pop is still the reigning as she continues to tour and perform at huge venues all over the world, in her late 50s. Her hard work never stops- she is still running her charity Raising Malawi, which has just built the first children’s hospital in Malawi.

Richard Branson – 66

#GoFitYourself @virginsport

A post shared by Richard Branson (@richardbranson) on

Still growing the Virgin empire, Branson’s ambitious entrepreneur nature helps drive him to successfully push his business forward, with no signs of slowing down yet, Branson is still turning ideas into reality in his 60s!

Mick Jagger – 73

@skeptagram and @mickjagger in the studio. Photo by @shaneaveli

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The rolling stones are preparing for their ‘No Filter’ tour, playing 13 shows over 12 European cities in the autumn. Jagger, at 73, is still ready to thrill crowds and produce exciting new music, working hard way past his 60s. He was even recently spotted in the studio working with Skepta.

Vivienne Westwood – 76

#VWSS18. It's going to be a circus…

A post shared by Vivienne Westwood (@viviennewestwood) on

OBE, eco-friendly activist and revolutionary punk designer Vivienne Westwood has no intention of slowing down into her 70s as she continues to revolutionise her brand while still eager to fight global warming and protect the environment.

Jane Fonda – 79

With booming Netflix series ‘Grace and Frankie’ renewed for another season, Jane Fonda isn’t ready to stop working yet! The hit Netflix original show, fights the stereotypes and stigma that surround ageing, and Fonda’s character proves age doesn’t stop work ethic as she builds a successful new business at 71.

These are just a handful of ageing celebs with a stellar career, with most people, regardless of wealth continuing to work well beyond 40, 50 and 60.

It’s possible to retire at such a young age with a sound saving plan and giving up some of those costly luxury comforts, but for many of us work provides enjoyment, mental and social stimulation and by no means wan’t to stop!


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