The day you hang up your hat and start sleeping in should be a dream come true. No more office politics, fighting traffic, pressure from an unrealistic boss, or sore muscles for some.
The day you retire means walking away from something you did for many years and entering a phase that rewards you with relaxation, enjoyment, and travel.
However, it’s not always all it’s cracked up to be.
There are many reasons you may want to keep working. I know that sounds like an absurd suggestion, but it’s definitely worth considering.
You live longer
People with a purpose tend to live longer. Social interaction directly correlates to a longer life. A large-scale longitudinal study conducted by researchers at Oregon State University found that early retirement was associated with an increased risk in mortality. You heard that right. The study found this to be true no matter how healthy the patients were.
Researchers said “employment is a key component of individuals’ identity that provides them with substantial financial, psycho-social, and cognitive resources.” *
On the flip side, there are those individuals who are miserable at work for any number of reasons. Sometimes this unhappiness manifests itself in physical ailments. For those people, getting to the retirement finish line may keep them kicking longer.
You keep your mind sharper
So, there you are in retirement, watching daytime TV, playing Candy Crush, or watching the grass grow in the backyard. Your brain is not getting too much stimulation and brain cells are dying off left and right. It’s a far cry from the multi-tasking, intense computer use, or number-crunching that might have been a part of your daily routine at work.
Attendees at a conference at Columbia University last year learned that work “helps boost cognitive health among older adults.” Researchers in Bordeaux, France released a study titled: “Older age at retirement is associated with decreased risk of dementia.” Dementia increased among those who retired early. The researchers suggested the old adage about “use it or lose it” is true of work and cognitive health.
You continue to build wealth
When we retire, we change from being in a wealth creation phase to a wealth depletion phase. Only nine percent of retirees wait until 70 to take social security.
Many retirees still have to deal with mortgage debt. This may be even more prevalent today with all the people who refinanced, taking advantage of historically low rates.
Americans are living longer than ever. There was a time when a retiree had to have 15 years’ worth of savings stashed away. Today, a retiree may need to have enough to cover 30 or more years.
After studying nearly 300 retirement income strategies, The Stanford Center on Longevity found what they label the ‘spend safely in retirement’ strategy. The approach suggests working till 70 and delaying social security until that time.
After age 50, workers can contribute a catch-up allowance on top of their regular maximums into a 401k and other retirement plans. If someone is able to “max out” their retirement plan, they can sock away more each year after turning 50.
The extra money earned for living expenses and the higher payout at 70 make for a better combination to preserve and maintain wealth.
You should be happy, but you may become depressed
It’s expected that retirement is always a time to escape the working world and find happiness and fulfillment with fewer responsibilities. This isn’t the case for everyone though. Some people miss their colleagues and the challenges inherent with work.
According to a report by the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2013, the risk of clinical depression can increase by 40 percent after retirement. Staying active is a good counterweight to physical and mental conditions after retirement.
Married couples may have a joint plan
Married couples often sit down and hammer out a plan for retirement years ahead of time. The planning may include their planned retirement ages along with when social security or pension benefits might begin for one or both of them.
If one spouse finds work intolerable or their boss is just too much to bear, the plans can change, causing one spouse to dive into retirement earlier than planned. This can impact the other spouse and their own retirement timetable.
Saving and planning based on an older retirement age will help both spouses target a later retirement age. If something interferes with one, it will not rock the boat too much for the other who can continue with their plan. If nothing interferes, more wealth and fewer expenses will mean a more fulfilling retirement for both.
For health and wealth, working longer and retiring later makes great sense.
* Association of retirement age with mortality: a population-based longitudinal study among older adults in the USA, Chenkai Wu, Michelle C Odden, Gwenith G Fisher, Robert S Stawski (2015)