I turn 65 in September. I have a small savings account, a few investments and have done the math. With what I’ll receive from social security, I’ll be financially able to retire. I won’t be rich, but I’ll be comfortable.
Although everyone tells me I should retire and “live the good life,” I don’t know what I’d do all day if I retire. When I ask my retired friends what their days are like, they tell me they wake up whenever they want to, often as late as ten a.m., remain in their robes, and watch movies and TV shows. A couple of them take trips and that’s exciting, but the trips only last for ten days.
I’m embarrassed to tell my friends their lives sound boring. My boss wants me to keep working, but even though I enjoy my coworkers, I don’t love my job and don’t want to do it for the rest of my life. I’ve thought of volunteering for a nonprofit, but if I’m working anyway, I’d like to make money to have for luxuries. Everything I’ve read says it’s hard to get a job after 65 and I thought you might have some ideas. Or am I crazy, and I should retire?
You’re in a perfect position to enjoy the best of both worlds—increased workweek freedom plus continued partial employment—semi-retirement. If you choose to continue working, you won’t be alone. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13 million Americans who reach the traditional retirement age of 65 and over will remain in the labor force in 2024, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2017/article/older-workers.htm#:~:text=24.8%25-,Source%3A%20U.S.%20Bureau%20of%20Labor%20Statistics.,be%20ages%2065%20and%20older. The Transamerica Retirement Survey reports that nearly six in ten employees plan to work at least part-time in retirement, https://transamericacenter.org/retirement-research/retirement-survey.
Some of these 13 million employees work because they want to; others because they want to.
Here’s my suggestion. Spend the next several months deciding what you’d like to do in semi-retirement. Since your boss wants you to stay, you could set the terms—and work half-days and spend the other half-days exploring other options. Although age discrimination is a reality and it’s harder to get hired as an employee after 65, many retired individuals turn their professional skills into cash by offering their services as contractors or consultants. If you have editing, writing, bookkeeping, website development, or similar talents, you can advertise them on the freelance services marketplace, fiverr. If you have a hobby that you’ve never had time to pursue, you might strategize how to turn it into an internet-based business. You can search Indeed.com for a more interesting, less demanding job, given you want to make money but feel financially comfortable.
You’re not crazy.
You’re not crazy. Many individuals who can financially afford to retire choose to remain in the workforce. These employees enjoy working, particularly when they can set the terms—and choose what work schedules and assignments they’ll accept. Many semi-retired employees find work adds meaning to their lives, provides them with social interaction and helps them maintain their mental facilities.
Those who work past their full retirement age may find it increases their social security benefits, allows them to delay taking money from their savings accounts where it can continue to compound, or provides them continued access to their employer’s retirement plan and health insurance. If you wonder how semi-retirement might affect your social security, Medicare, and employer-furnished health insurance, or whether you can deduct home office expenses, consult with your accountant or another trusted financial advisor.
The numbers of those who past 65 continues to grow.
Finally, you’re lucky. An increasing number of individuals older than 65 remain in the workforce because they have to. Nearly half of all families in the U.S. lack any retirement savings, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2021/dec/13/americans-retire-work-social-security. Those who rely on social security benefits often find it doesn’t meet their needs despite the 5.9% cost-of-living increase for 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/money/2021/dec/13/americans-retire-work-social-security.
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 36 percent of U.S. employees and retirees don’t feel confident (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/more-workers-worry-cant-afford-162651494.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAADBhBxHENiEhGFjimACNIYEdqkF-G6PpEJM4xZ0URhcDePhicpRNze6Fn8RTiZiFGLcl05kV5eKa3ZKEDz542sw2asgiqYLg_1DZp8cid-7SRJ7Na1dGPtFh4yx38jQroDNtwyiUZA1Ccc7Sk0xNEg28fbieuv5YwpqmscjfUsKC) they can financially survive retirement. These employees cite fears concerning inflation, Medicare’s reliability to cover escalating health expenses, and stock market volatility and reduced returns from investments.
Given the above concerns, semi-retirement may prove a wise option even for those who currently feel they can retire.
(c) 2023 Lynne Curry
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