Should You Work In Your Retirement Years

Is there a formal definition for retirement anymore?

working in retirementLet’s face it: the terms of retirement and retiring have changed over the past ten to twenty years as lifespans have increased, retirement investing has become a more sophisticated and calculated field and family dynamics have changed. Living longer means that the amount of time you spend in retirement, and the amount of income you need to survive, has increased dramatically. Retirement calculators, the realisation of pensions and company matches during the 1970′s, 1980′s and 1990′s have given many Baby Boomers much larger amount of money than they ever thought they’d have in retirement. And households that have had two working spouses for many years have, in theory, twice the amount of retirement income at their disposal.

Most people understand retirement in the classic sense: it’s the time you plan to spend after you’re done working in your career or in your “real” job. It’s the time you’re going to spend in any way you want when you are older and have saved and invested enough money to live in for the foreseeable future. There was once a time when the only options you had as a retired person would be whether you wanted to play golf, garden or go on cruises in your spare time. It was almost unheard of for people to retire from a job and really plan to just “sit around” and do nothing all day. For most people that’s not really “living” and that’s certainly not what retirement is all about.

Thirty years ago this complete work stoppage was largely the norm, but now more and more people are “retiring” from one career only to find that they still have plenty of interest and energy to pursue another field or at least work part-time at a hobby or business they love. Many older Americans, especially the Baby Boomer generation, are moving into more of a “partial” retirement phase. Many people in their 50′s and 60′s who were downsized early due to the economic downturn or opted to take an early retirement package are now finding themselves in a position where they hadn’t planned to be: financially secure for the moment, but still having plenty of energy, knowledge and desire to share.

volunteerWorking or volunteering at a company or organisation also fills in the often-missed social networking and face-to-face meetings that were common during one’s working years. Through a part-time retirement job many people meet new friends, find new interests and discover things about themselves they never knew. Meeting with people who have the same interests or purpose as you do is not only a great way to stay mentally active and but it’s also an excellent way to continue to give meaningful contribution to your community even though you don’t have a “formal” job anymore. In today’s economy having a formal retirement is becoming less common while many people are turning to second or even third career paths, often stemming from a hobby or volunteer activity, as they grow older.

Many people are finding that working part-time or even on a volunteer basis is a great way to enjoy the added leisure time of retirement while also giving themselves a reason to get up in the morning. In the last several years we’ve seen specialised employment companies form just to give jobs to retired people. There are even websites such as RetiredBrains which are built around helping retired people who are still navigating the working world and trying to have an “active” retirement.

More and more retired people are also finding that after spending years of working for someone else they are actually much more excited (and better qualified) to be their own boss and run their own companies. Almost any hobby can be turned into a business that can generate at least some part-time income and provide further financial security. Retired people often have the added advantage of not “needing” money initially when starting a business, so they can dedicate more time and money to getting a business off the ground.