Don’t Retire; Just Stop Stressing
The post-retirement phase of your life is supposed to be a time when you embrace relaxation and reduce stress as much as possible. It is an opportunity to enjoy life without the worries that the daily grind of work entails. However, for many, working provides such structure and a sense of purpose that they have trouble making that transition. It is not unusual to be concerned about what to do with your time in retirement, especially if you’re used to being busy and having the satisfaction of a job well done.
Don’t Stop Working
For these and other reasons, many people are deciding not to retire, even if they’re at a point financially when they can afford to. Getting up in the morning to go to work because you want to, instead of because you have to, can change the way you feel about your job. As one of my clients put it, “I’m enjoying work because I approach it thinking I’m only a couple of bad days away from retirement; I can quit whenever I want.” Our culture tends to paint retirement as an unavoidable stage of life, so it can be hard to imagine what you’d do as an alternative. Continuing to work in your current job is one option for many people.
Keeping your current job isn’t the only alternative. If you’re someone who really enjoys working, but you can’t keep your current job after your formal retirement date, you still may have options.
Consider easing into retirement, instead of quitting cold turkey. After you retire, take a nice long vacation, and then go back to work part-time. Ask your employer if, when you retire as a W-2 employee, they could use your services (e.g., as a consultant) as an independent contractor.
Part-time work, whether it’s for your current employer or someplace else, can strike the perfect balance for some people. It means more time for relaxation, travel, and hobbies, but without having to give up a beloved vocation.
If you don’t particularly enjoy your current job, but work provides you with an important sense of purpose, consider finding a different job doing something you enjoy more. If you don’t need to make as much money, take a job that pays less, but is more fun. If you don’t need the money at all, consider a job as a volunteer for a cause about which you feel strongly. Your years of experience are likely to make you a real asset, and there are many non-profit organizations that could really use your help.
Continuing to work can provide significant financial benefits. Even if you just work part-time, you can earn extra funds that can allow you to be more financially independent and/or enjoy retirement more. By reducing the need to pull money from your investments, working part-time in retirement might allow you to retire sooner, or retire at the normal time, but take more (or more expensive) trips.
Some people who can afford to get by in retirement without additional income find that treating retirement earnings as “extra, spendable” money makes continued work especially rewarding. If you earn an extra $10,000 or $20,000 a year working part-time, consider using it for more travel, perhaps paying the way for kids and/or grandkids to come along with you. This type of immediate reward for working another year can make that work seem a lot more rewarding.
Do What Makes You Happy
You don’t have to follow the road map that’s been laid out for you by society. Sure, retirement is the typical choice for older adults. But it really doesn’t matter what most people do. What matters is that you, as much as possible, spend your retirement days in ways that make you feel happy and fulfilled.
Viridian is an SEC Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with clients across the United States. Viridian offers financial planning, asset management, employee benefits advice, as well as tax services through its sister company, Viridian Tax and Accounting. Matt Boelter is a fiduciary financial advisor and Viridian Shareholder.