Working in retirement is becoming more popular. The mid-range Baby Boomers will soon be hitting the traditional retirement age, but they're not ready to give up on work just yet! In the past, retirement was seen as a time when you could finally stop working. But workers in America are starting to change this mindset. 'Retirement' is no longer considered to be as final as it once was. By 2022, the percentage of people working after retirement age is predicted to reach 32% - which is up from 20% in 2002.
Some retirees view their new freedoms as an opportunity to embark on an active side career, especially if something sparks their interest or provides an outlet from everyday life Here are five great reasons to remain involved in the workforce after reaching retirement:
- Keeping Mentally Agile
- Improving Physical Health
- Increasing Social Security Benefits
- Staying Socially Connected
- Finding a New Purpose in Retirement
1. Keeping Mentally Agile in Old Age
Working after retirement age can help to keep your mind sharp. This is especially important for retirees who are concerned about the risks of developing dementia, Alzheimer's, or other age-related cognitive declines. Mentally challenging work keeps the brain fit and ready to handle tasks - and for the financial rewards you can reap, it sure beats playing Sudoku!
While an early retirement sounds nice, staying in the workforce can actually help stave off significant cognitive decline. Research by the University of Padova found early retirement may be associated with the onset of dementia. For each extra year people work, they reduce their risk of dementia by 3.2 percent (according to research agency INSERM). The indications are that if you want to hang onto the "mental muscle" you've spent a lifetime building, keep on using it! Exercise your brain.
2. Improving Physical Health in Retirement
Speaking of muscle, staying active during retirement can help some people maintain continued health. Whether you want to work full-time or only a few days a week, any form of activity will keep your body active. Many of us still need the structure of work and a daily schedule to keep busy and moving.
Of course, the relationship between retirement and health is hard for scientists to disentangle because while there is a correlation, it can be difficult to tell which one is leading which. Perhaps people who can stay working longer are more active mentally and physically anyway? However, even when taking this into consideration, a 2016 study found that retirees with health problems still live longer when they postpone their retirement.
3. Increasing Social Security Benefits
Here's a clear-cut reason to keep working longer: you can maximize your Social Security benefits if you wait until reaching full retirement age (FRA). Retiring early will reduce the amount you receive; these deductions are permanent for the rest of your life. Similarly, there are also incentives to delay Social Security benefits by working beyond the standard retirement age. The bonus to your benefit will be an extra 8% for each additional year that you continue to work (up to a maximum of 4 extra years). If your FRA is 66 and you hold off until 70, you are eligible for the maximum bonus of 4x8% (32%) and receive 132% more than at the normal retirement age.
Let's face it: many older Americans will have to continue to work
Sadly, many Americans need to continue to make a salary during their retirement. We've discussed in a recent blog post how healthcare costs make an extra income imperative for many people; a third of workers report feeling "not confident" that they can afford medical expenses in retirement.
But there are advantages beyond sheer necessity to still have a flow of income after reaching retirement age, especially for women (who have unique retirement saving needs, too). Dr Nicole Maestas found that women who work through their 50s and 60s gain more than their male counterparts – in part because their increased longevity means they can ultimately enjoy the benefits of Social Security for longer. Maestas illustrates that the 32% credit from delaying SS can offset gaps and gender disadvantages they experienced early in their earnings, finally placing women back on par.
4. Staying Socially Connected
The right job can help you avoid isolation. Workplaces are where we meet peers and form teams, making friendships and relationships that can last decades, But there's more to it than that. When you retire early, you live your life at a different pace from your compatriots.
What does this mean? Simply, those who retire too early quickly become disconnected from their friends. Professor Esteban Calvo, lead author of "Should I Stay or Should I Go? Causal Effects of Retirement", puts it best:
"You'll be calling your friends to see if they want to play golf or see a movie and they will be at work, and five years later your friends will be calling you and you'll say 'I don't want to play golf anymore.'"
When you're at a different life stage from your peer group, you suffer increased social isolation. And loneliness isn't just a feeling - it can be harmful to your health! Some studies say it's equivalent to smoking nearly a packet of cigarettes a day. So before leaving the workplace forever, keep these benefits in mind!
5. Discovering a Renewed Purpose in Retirement
Studies have shown that finding meaning in our careers doesn't just lead to increased income; it lengthens our lifespan and quality of life. Retirement is a great chance to pivot into working on something you care about strongly.
Retirement isn't an ending anymore. Many modern retirees look for "bridge employment" to transition better into full retirement. This new direction can involve more meaningful practices: like reducing hours for a better work-life balance at their old job, shifting occupations to something they have always wanted to do, rebooting skills, or even putting forgotten ones back into use!
If you want to ward off the negative effects of retirement and promote joy and a sense of fulfilment and direction in your later years, why not take on a new challenge or creative outlet? Here are some ideas to get you started:
9 Great Ideas for Side Gigs for Seniors!
- Temp work. Many companies offer flexible hours around your schedule, allowing you greater freedom during the day.
- Horticultural or Gardening. If you have a green thumb, why not make some extra green? The best thing about seasonal work is it isn't all year long, allowing you to swap back to retirement mode.
- Retail. Department stores are always looking for seasonal workers around Christmas and holiday periods. There's nothing like working in the seasonal rush to develop camaraderie with your co-workers!
- "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." Speaking of holidays, how about having a bit of fun and spreading cheer as a Santa or Mrs. Claus? Embrace the Christmas spirit and enjoy a spot of acting.
- Home and pet-minding. Many retirees would love to do extra work around the house or pet-minding for their neighbors. This is a great way to make extra money (and spend time with pets, too!)
- "Hire yourself!" Become your own boss! There's no need to look somewhere else when you can put your entrepreneurial skills and business acumen to use. Start a new business idea right at home.
- Exam tutoring. If you've recently retired from teaching, put your skills to good use. Many students need extra help for intensive exam preparation, and it's a great way to keep your brain sharp.
- Music teaching. Why not turn your musical expertise into a money-making business by teaching people who share the same interest?
- Mentoring/Coaching. Do you have a particular area of expertise? Then become a valued expert-for-hire for the younger generation!
Retirees still have a lot to offer the workforce and their communities. It may seem like the only choice is to retire or not, but there are many reasons you should consider continuing working in retirement. Whether it's for financial purposes or social benefits, we've discussed some compelling arguments about why staying busy and employed after your FRA - and even delaying Social Security by a few years - could be beneficial for your finances and happiness.
If you're interested in learning about how this can apply to your situation, contact us today! We'll help guide you through all the steps needed to create a successful plan that works with your life goals as well as your individual financial circumstances.