If you asked a group of people to define retirement, chances
are good that almost every person's answer would somehow revolve
around no longer working. In fact, "working during retirement"
sounds like an oxymoron to most people.
In reality, though, working during retirement is becoming more
and more common. According to the recent SunAmerica Retirement
, pre-retirees are delaying retirement by five years - from age
64 to 69 - and when they do retire, two-thirds anticipate that
they will continue to work in some fashion. Reasons for staying
on the job include longer life expectancies, the high cost of
health insurance, the recent market downturn and a desire to stay
active. So how do you know if working during retirement is right
for you? Here are five questions to ask yourself before quitting
Do I need to work?
The volatile markets and economic downturn of the last several
years have dealt a serious setback to the retirement plans of
some pre-retirees. In many cases, continuing to work is the
most effective way to get your retirement plans back on track.
Staying on the job means more income, more time to save,
continued employer provided benefits and increased Social
Security benefits. It also gives battered investments time to
recover and means that your nest egg will need to provide
income for a shorter period of time. While continuing to work
may not be your first choice, it can be a great way to increase
your security and peace of mind.
Do I want to work?
A growing number of people are working not because they have
to, but because they want to. Fyodor Dostoevsky once said
"Deprived of meaningful work, men and women lose their reason
for existence." In other words, all of us are designed to do
something meaningful and productive. Retirement doesn't somehow
remove that need, it just means that we no longer have to base
our choice on how much something pays. Before leaving the
workforce, think about the non-financial benefits you get from
working. If you derive a great deal of satisfaction and purpose
from your job, you may want to think twice before leaving it.
And if you do decide to leave, be sure to have a plan for how
to fill the void. Otherwise, you might find yourself frustrated
Will working even be an option?
The SunAmerica Study also found that almost half of those
already retired left work sooner than expected. The number one
reason sited for exiting early was personal health problems (41
percent), but many also lost their jobs (19 percent) or quit in
order to take care of a family member or friend (13 percent).
As you think about working in retirement, it's important to
remember that the choice is not always up to you. If you have a
physically demanding job or a poor health history, your working
days may be numbered.
Does a work-retirement hybrid make sense?
If your answers to any of the above questions were yes, it
might make sense to design a solution that offers the best of
both worlds. Whether this means doing a phased retirement with
your current employer or choosing something else entirely,
working part-time or at a less demanding job can give you
increased freedom to follow some of your retirement dreams
while still providing income and a connection to the working
What is Plan B?
If we've learned anything from the last several years, it is
this: Things don't always go as expected. A plan to continue
working can get cut short by a pink slip. The market might dive
and take your income with it. You might head into retirement
with a number of meaningful pursuits in mind and find that none
of them really meet your needs. Whatever the reason, it's
important to have a Plan B, just in case. Derek Sievers once
said, "Success comes from persistently improving and inventing,
not from persistently doing what's not working." When it comes
to retirement, don't be afraid to change course and make
improvements until you get it right.
As you can see, work and retirement do not need to be mutually
exclusive. By striking the appropriate balance, you can design a
retirement that is uniquely yours and will result in a rewarding,
meaningful new chapter in life.
FPA member Joseph R. Hearn is the Vice President at
Teckmeyer Financial and author of the books
If Something Happens to Me
The Bell Lap: The 8 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid as You Approach