Do You Really Need to Stop Working for a Successful Retirement?


23 February,2015

One of the hallmarks of a “traditional” retirement is the idea that you stop working. You quit your job, and then ride off into the sunset, ready to relax on some beach somewhere — or at least make eternal rounds of your kids’ and grandkids’ homes.

But is this the type of retirement you want? Do you really need to stop working in order to be considered a retirement success story? I admit that when I consider the idea that I might not work at all, or have something useful to do during the day, I become a little worried. I like what I do.

When figuring out how much you need in retirement, you are likely to make your calculation without reckoning on having any outside income from some type of work. However, everything changes if you decide that you want to keep working during retirement.

Why You Might Want to Keep Working

Early retirement, according to some studies, might result in an earlier death. There are some indications that those who retire at age 55 and live to be at least 65 have a 37% higher risk of death than those who retire at 65.

Another study took a look at the way that retirement can have an adverse impact on your health. After retirement, incidence of depression increases, and physical deterioration accelerates. Part of this has to do with the fact that it’s harder to find purpose in your day when you don’t have a job to go to. Without the stimulation of a job, and without the physical activity that you might be forced into as a result of going to work, your health might go downhill.

Early retirement might be a dream to some, but if you spend it in an aimless manner, there is a good chance that there won’t be anything “golden” about your so-called golden years. Instead, you’ll contend with health problems and the costs associated with them.

Before you decide that retirement — in the “traditional” style — is the way to go, consider the benefits associated with continued employment.

A Different Kind of Work

Of course, just because you decide to keep working and earning money during retirement it doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing the same job. Maybe you want to quit the job you’ve had for a long time and try something new. Working during retirement can include these types of activities:

  • Part-time work at a store, or in a new career.
  • Consulting or freelance work in a field where you have experience.
  • Seasonal work as a tour guide.
  • Doing some other types of work, such as giving lessons or tutoring, that allows you to use your skills and knowledge.

All of these types of work can be rewarding, while at the same time bringing in more income for you during retirement. You can put off drawing down your retirement account, and let that money grow a little bit. Plus, you enjoy stimulating work that gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

If you don’t care about earning more money during retirement, you can even get involved with volunteering. There is a great need for volunteers in communities and schools, and you can be that volunteer. Volunteering is a type of work that provides you with purpose in your life, while at the same time offering needed social interaction. There are even volunteer travel experiences available for those who can afford them. What a great way to stay active, learn new things, and see the world!

Make Sure You Have Something To Do

The key to a successful retirement is more about making sure that you have something to do that keeps you busy and enriches your life. As long as you have the financial resources to support you, there is no reason that you can’t keep moving, even during retirement. Many retirees enjoy travel, learning new hobbies, and even going back to school. The key is to have something to do, and the money to ensure that you can do it.

Even if that something to do is working part-time as a greeter at a local store, it’s worth doing, just to keep you involved with life. Consider ways that you can make social connections, and stay active. Many retirees join gyms, sign up for school, go on paid travel tours, and volunteer. Some type of work will keep your mind occupied and your body active so that you have less of a chance of running into poor health early in your retirement.

Health Care and Retirement

There is nothing more expensive than poor health, and for that reason alone it can make sense to keep working, if you can stave off a downward spiral in your health. Also, consider that early retirement can mean problems with your health care situation. You might lose your employer subsidized health care if you retire early. However, you aren’t eligible for Medicare until you are 65. That leaves quite the gap in which you need to come up with a way to pay for health insurance. You can reduce this problem if you have used a Health Savings Account to save up money over time. You don’t have to worry about early withdrawal as long as you use the money for health care costs.

Before you decide to quit your job and retire early, make sure you consider the cost of health care, and the implications involved in having to pay for your own health insurance, whether you get it on your own, or go through the health exchanges as a result of the ACA.

A successful retirement doesn’t hinge on you quitting work altogether. Instead, it’s more about your overall quality of life, and your ability to comfortably afford what you’re doing.