Make Your Retirement Dollars Stretch Further With Part-Time Employment

A close family friend is retiring soon at the relatively young age of 62.  She can think of nothing more than days that are entirely her own.  She can’t imagine working anymore even though she has many productive years ahead of her.  She is the face of a retirement that may soon disappear.

My husband and I have discussed our retirement, and luckily we are in agreement that we both plan to work well into our retirement.  I am already a freelancer, and I plan to continue freelancing as a writer well into retirement.  My husband has started his career late because of our growing family and his Ph.D. studies.  Now that he has his Ph.D., he is working as a post-doc researcher.  At 38, he is really just starting his career, so he has no intention of retiring at 62.  Even when he does retire from his full-time job, he plans to do consulting work and writing in retirement.

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Working In Retirement

Working In Retirement

We are not alone.  The Social Security Administration now states that full retirement age for those born after 1960 is 67 years old.  Popular finance guru Suze Orman also advocates that people wait until age 67 to retire.  With a U.S. life expectancy of 78.5 years (CDC), that still leaves a person with at least 11 years to live fully off their retirement, though many of us know people who have lived well into their 90s.

There are many benefits to working at least part-time through retirement:

  1. People are generally more satisfied when they are working.  Peter published a previous post, “Do You Ever Plan to Fully Retire,” that includes research that many people are depressed after they retire.  Those who continue working in some form in retirement report being most satisfied with their lives.
  2. You can extend your retirement income.  Working for several years (or more) into retirement helps you extend your retirement funds further.  We have always been a one income family, and while we have saved for retirement since I began my career at 29, our retirement is not big enough, in my opinion.  Because my husband and I both plan to work in retirement, we will need less of our retirement income to meet our expenses.  We hope to be able to delay taking Social Security (assuming it is around!) until the full retirement age, and we plan to wait to tap money from our other retirement funds until we reach the age when we must withdraw some of the money.  Working later in life will help us make our retirement income stretch further and will make up for the fact that our retirement is not as large as we would like.
  3. You can still enjoy free time with a reduced work schedule.  While endless days of retirement with nothing scheduled may seem like a dream to some such as our close family friend who is retiring, for others it is a terrifying thought.  My husband and I fall in the latter camp.  We can’t imagine not working and not being busy.  When my husband retires from his job, we plan to travel while we are still young enough, but we will also be able to do our freelance work around our adventures.  We can benefit from working on a smaller scale to enjoy things we did not have time to do when working full-time, but we will still be able to work and be challenged.  That sounds like the best of both worlds to both of us.

We have gently suggested to our family friend that she may want to work a bit in retirement to make her retirement fund stretch, but she has no interest.  She is the face of a traditional retirement that will likely not be attainable to many of our peers.  For us, we are happy to work in retirement, at least on a reduced basis.

Do you plan to work in retirement, or would you like a traditional, but fading, retirement?

Last Edited: 30th May 2012

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  1. says

    I think many people who qualify for retirement at a young age like your friend have probably been in the same company or industry for most of their careers. Rather than look at working part time into retirement as a way to just make extra money, what about also looking at it as a second chance to pursue pipe dreams? I know people who’ve retired and started their own businesses from home and are happier than ever while earning an income. My mom even plans to retire from the job she’s had since I was born soon and will likely work part time for a florist to earn extra income – something she’s always wanted to do.

  2. says

    As mentioned in my post that you linked above, I don’t really ever plan on fully retiring. I just find working to be fulfilling, and I think I’d probably get bored pretty quick if I was just living a life of leisure. While I may not retire completely, I probably wouldn’t be working at a traditional job anymore, maybe working more on things that I want to work on – volunteering, working part time, blogging (if it’s still around!) or who knows what.

    • says

      I totally agree with you, I’m not sure I’d be able to ever retire fully. I usually even spend my whole weekends writing. I was just thinking that for people who don’t want to work after retirement but could benefit from the extra money, helping them see it as an opportunity to explore their old pipe dreams may help them warm up to the idea.

  3. JD says

    My husband and I are retired and have absolutely no intention of working again. We put in enough years and now truly have time to enjoy the pursuits we choose. I personally don’t think it is anyone’s business to try to encourage another to continue to work after they have decided to retire.

  4. says

    I have a long way to go before I get to retirement age, but I don’t see myself ever being 100% retired. Even if I’m not working I’d like to find something rewarding to do with my time. Sitting around doing nothing is nice every once in awhile but it gets old pretty quickly.

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