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Work until 65? Maybe.

Work until 65? Maybe.

| April 30, 2024

I was perusing the latest study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2023 Retirement Confidence Survey (Greenwald). Of the currently employed workers surveyed, 68% expected to be working until 65 or older. But of the surveyed retirees, research showed that only 31% were still working at 65. Why the gap?

The research lays out positive reasons - 35% of those surveyed retired early because they could afford it - as well as data that gives reason to pause. For example, 35% of retirees had to stop working early because of health problems or disability. These were by far the two leading reasons for "quitting" early yet both point to the same need. Employees should save as much as they can as early as they can.

The way I think of it, after 34 years in the industry, I have not had anyone say to me, "Timothy, I have too much money". Sadly, I have heard the flip side to that. Think of it this way, would you rather say, "I want to keep working because I enjoy what I do" or "I have to keep working to make ends meet"? I would also point out two other schools of thought.

The first is my own. I am 56 and thinking about "retirement" perhaps in 14 years. But what is retirement? I am an absolute disaster on the golf course. I don't really want to watch a lot of TV aside from when I am working out. And the idea of staying at home gives me the chills. I may retire from the current frenetic pace of work (typing a LinkedIn article at 9:42 PM?) but I don't see myself sitting on my duff. I will find something to do. I need the mental stimulation. Maybe I will have a dog walking business? Heck, I could even stuff envelopes at a non-profit. Point being, I cannot bear the thought of idle hands.

And the second school of thought is from a late friend of mine, Ron. Ron was still going strong at 76. When I asked him why he did not just retire, he about bit my head off. As he saw it, he was divorced, had a dog as a companion, and did not want to watch TV. Was I proposing, he snapped, that he sit on the couch all day? When he was in a better mood, he explained that work gave him purpose. Work gave him a reason to get out of bed. And yes, work was part of his identity. He had been working since he was 18. Even while he was in college, he worked.

You cannot predict the future but you can prepare for it. Saving as much as you can while you can is one way to do that. Most retirement plans allows for contributions to be changed as needed. If you have the financial wherewithal to save a good deal, do so! You can always change that if circumstances shift. Onwards to the goal of retiring with dignity!