Plan To Retire Later Instead of Earlier?

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Talking with my parents about their retirement plans has been very enlightening. I found out that my dad fully intends on working until he is at least 70 years old. I guess it’s not a total surprise, he is a bit of a workaholic, likes his job, and I don’t think he would handle retirement very well. He already gets 8 weeks of vacation a year, which is plenty for him. My mom could probably retire today, but she’d be bored out of her mind as well without grandkids or something to keep her busy. They both travel around the globe for almost a month a year so they are content.

This has gotten me to think – instead of all this focus on saving money, maxing out your 401k, workworkwork for 20 years, all so you can “screw it!” at age 50, I should really focus instead of finding a career path that I really enjoy and wouldn’t mind doing even when I’m 70.

For example, talking with my friends, two of their retired parents both went back to work recently because they simply got antsy sitting around all day. One actually bags groceries in the supermarket now and the other works for the airlines checking bags. Wouldn’t you rather be doing something you’re good at? I suppose the stress level is lower.

I still think my ultimate goal is to be financially free when I’m 55. That way I can work if I want, and pursue my passion for travel when I want. My former job was in a very secure company, the average length of employment for the workers there was probably 20 years. I’m sure I could have worked there until I died if I wanted to. But it didn’t challenge me in a way I wanted. It’s a bit scary now trying to get into a new area, but it’s also really fun. Now I need to plan how to work less hard for a longer period of time, instead of really hard for a short period of time. And still be financially secure.

I think the key to knowing if you are happy in your job is if you wake up in the morning and are excited to get out of bed. Anyways, this what I think about on Saturday mornings.

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  1. I am facing the same situation, I have a good high tech job that is sort of stable but I am getting bored after 10 yrs of working in this industry..we are planning on moving to some other less expensive place like houston/austin and find some generic marketing job that will sustain us and keep us from getting stressed out, the idea is to live long and healthy, something that the tech industry does not quite deliver.

  2. Jane Dough says

    Good Post – I think you are smart to keep with your plan to be financially independent at 55. While it is great to think you may work until you are 70 it is really hard to predict that you will be able to. Health issues may force you to retire earlier than you like. Your employeer may not want someone who is 70 on the payroll – so unless you own your company there is no guarantee you will be ABLE to work that long.

    As you noted, most elderly who work do so in low-paid service jobs. This is probably not by choice. They may not be up to working 8 – 10 hour days and the service jobs may be the only ones that provide the flexability they need. They may not be able to commute long distances anymore or due to age discrimination this might be the only work available.

    It is far better to be in a positon to CHOOSE to work rather than to be FORCED to work. Keep saving and investing and you will be one of the lucky ones who can CHOOSE how you will spend the last quarter of your life.

  3. Keep your savings goals, but also follow your passion. If you find a job that you’re passionate about and keep the same personal finance focus, you’ll have the money to retire before 55. Passion for a job plus financial goals can do amazing things.

  4. My wife and I have actually taled about this the past few days. We are in our mid to early 30’s. One child and we both work. What we would like for me is to continue to work were I am now, energy production, until I am 50-55ish then leave the industry and get a teaching job in high school. I would love to be a teacher now but unfortunately they do not get paid enough. They deserve more. Especially compared with what I am used to making. I figure with a large chunk of our retirement built up by then I should be able to get a teaching job and continue to live how we do now. Granted I really enjoy my job I have now. I’ve been in this industry for ~12 years between the Navy and the civilian sector.

  5. I’m happy for your dad that he likes to work, but I’m of the “earlier is better” retirement school. Doesn’t mean I won’t work, but I want to be able to do what I want and if it doesn’t pay that much, I still want to do it. I wrote in my blog about the need to plan (link). I plan to revisit this shortly and will link out to your family’s retirement story(ies). Enjoy your blog.

  6. Read the Book: Die Broke.

    Retirement is a myth. It no longer applies to our culture. It was created during the depression to get old people OUT of the workforce so all the young people would have a job.

    There is no longer any such thing as retirement. It is a fabricated fantasy courtesy of Wall Street to encourage you to give them your money.

    The standard of living has gone down and Uncle Sam’s corrupt money skills/stupidity will NOT be able to keep you solvent post-55 (don’t kid yourself).

    Work for yourself (be your own agent) until you drop dead.

  7. Hmm. Thought provoking.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few months off between work/school a few times, and I don’t do very well with it. I need structure. When I don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time I forget to go outside, read too much, never wear anything but sweatpants, live on canned food–in other words, I get depressed. So I think retirement for me will look like long bouts of travelling interspersed with fun but low-paying part time jobs. I imagine myself working in a bookstore, or going back to school to study foreign languages, or being a literacy volunteer, or planting daffodils in the medians.

  8. For almost 20 years I had a job I loved most of the time. It meshed with my family life. The pay and benefits were good too. I think I would have happily continued working at such a job until I was 70. Unfortunately, I lost that job when my employer cut 50,000 employees over about a 2 year period.

    I was lucky to land another job right away. But I don?t care for the culture or the work and after switching jobs again after 18 months, I?m not finding the new position more to my liking.

    At this point, I?m looking at switching careers completely in my mid-40s. Fortunately, my husband has a good job and we?ve managed to put a bit away in savings. So, we can afford school and a few years without my income.

    My point is that even if you think you have a job you could work until your 70, your employer or the economy may not support that job for 50 years.

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