Working while ‘retired’

Keeping busy is one reason people decide to stay on-the-job.

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Retirement used to mean having leisure time to spend with family, play golf or bridge or perhaps travel the world. But these days, many Americans are spending their retirement working!

About a third of Americans approaching retirement say they’ll continue to work full time or part time in retirement, according to a 2017 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

And what’s even more startling?

Eight percent say they’ll never retire.

Some people enjoy working and they want a part-time job to stay busy and active. But most have an underlying financial reason to stay on the job. The lingering effects of the Great Recession have made it difficult to save for retirement.

Some of the challenges include:

Effects of housing crash: Housing wealth is determined by both the value of the home and the amount of debt. Housing wealth is a major asset for retirees, and it took a big hit in the 2008 housing crash as home values dropped and mortgage debt rose.

Helping family members: It’s been said that young adults are ruining their parents’ retirement. According to the New York Times, 40 percent of millennials are getting significant financial help from their parents. Many families are also financially helping an aging parent.

Lack of faith in Social Security: Millions of Americans rely on Social Security in retirement, but the fund is paying out faster than it’s taking in money. The Social Security fund has enough money to pay recipients through the year 2034. Unless Congress acts, it will be able to pay only 77 percent of its promised benefits after that.

Health care: This is one of the biggest expenses in retirement. HealthView Services’ 2017 retirement report estimates that a 65-year-old couple retiring in 2017 can expect to spend more than $400,000 on health care in retirement.

Rising student debt: Student debt now tops $1.4 trillion, and it’s not just a young person’s problem. About 114,000 Americans over the age of 50 who defaulted on their student loans are seeing part of their Social Security benefits garnished, according to the Government Accountability Office.

Working in retirement doesn’t mean you have to stick with the 9-to-5 job you held throughout your career. Your current employer may have opportunities for you to transition into consulting, part-time or temporary work.

Additionally, many retirees are shifting gears and trying something new. If you enjoy writing, you may be able to get a freelance gig where you can work from home. Animal lovers can earn income pet sitting or pet walking. Many retirees enjoy teaching or child care, driving for a ride service such as Uber or Lyft or working in the retail or travel industries.

Staying on the job into retirement isn’t a guarantee. Many Americans are forced to leave work earlier than expected because of a health problem, disability or changes at their company.

Keep your job skills up to date and don’t underestimate the value of networking. Also, do your best to stay healthy. Try to eat a balanced diet and exercise so you’re not forced to leave your job for health reasons.

I take this into account as I work with clients on their retirement planning. Ideally, income from a part-time job should be earmarked for fun things like travel and entertainment. In other words, you shouldn’t rely on income from a retirement job for necessities.

You need a solid financial plan based on savings and investments so you can enjoy your retirement.


Matt Gulbransen is the president of Callahan Financial Planning in Woodbury. He holds an Accredited Wealth Management Advisor designation. Learn more at cfpcorp.net.