The raging bull market, the longest in history, some estimate, has inspired in some people a very old dream—early retirement. As people in their 50s accumulate growing pots of assets thanks to the S&P 500, they could be forgiven for starry visions of golf courses and beaches, and living through 30, maybe 40 years without their day jobs.

The question is: Is that vision a mirage? Do they really have enough? Are they still in denial about what the market can suddenly do? Don’t they worry about outliving their money?

Millennials have even coined their own term, the “Fire” movement (financial independence, retire early). Often, these are in fact plans to take extended sabbaticals that will allow them to make flexible life choices, take a gap year, enjoy a Wanderjahr on another continent and then take up working again when they feel like it. They might be thinking, “What the hell, I’m not going to have enough to retire anyway, and Social Security is going to be gone.”

Not surprisingly, the early retirement movement has spawned a backlash (it’s criticized by many advisors and Suze Orman), who say that people who start taking cash distributions earlier in life have snubbed the holiest of concepts: compounding and the time value of money. The whole point of having money inside retirement accounts for years and years is that asset growth helps you beat inflation. Squandering your savings in your prime human capital years is flaky at best, catastrophic at worst. Your short-term money will lose its advantage and be frittered away amid market fluctuations and inflation. If you stop earning before 65, your money is working against you as you spend, not for you as you save.

Still others like Financial Advisor columnist Mitch Anthony say that retirement is almost a death sentence of boredom, inactivity and desuetude that should be avoided at all costs. Quit your job if you don’t like it, but find another way to work.

Yet many clients in their mid-50s have indeed benefited from the bull market and do in fact have the wherewithal to retire. They’ve saved enough money to last them into their 90s by most reasonable measures. If they live modest lifestyles, take thoughtful Social Security and 401(k) withdrawal strategies—maybe even have the pluck to keep working under new circumstances—then early retirement is within sight.

The most important question to ask clients is familiar: What are their goals in the first place? Perhaps it’s doing nothing, or more likely pursuing hobbies or joining social groups, but they might also want to start doing something new and liberating. Something that gives tonic to the soul. Like starting another business.

To know whether your clients can do it, you must look at their entire financial picture, including benefits they might not know that they have.

Jennifer Failla with Strada Wealth in Austin, Texas, specializes in clients in crisis, including clients in their mid-50s who are forced into retirement. She says the firm has gotten creative and looked at what it’s like to leave the country. Austin has seen huge growth in house prices, property taxes are a killer, and clients are facing down huge health-care costs.

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