WORK-LIFE BALANCE / MAR. 19, 2014
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In Today’s Economy Maybe You Shouldn’t Retire

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In order to retire in today’s difficult economy and perhaps tomorrow’s uncertain financial landscape, it takes a lot of capital, savings, planning, downsizing and astuteness. A paucity of sufficient funds, a high cost of living and a lack of jobs are ingredients to making life harder for seniors, retirees and the soon-to-be retired crowd.

Individuals can be at fault as well. According to multiple surveys, including this widely cited study by Bankrate, two-thirds of Americans don’t save enough to reach their retirement objectives. Another one-third of polling respondents said they don’t put any money away at all. In fact, only a little more than one-quarter (28 percent) are meeting their monthly retirement financial targets.

Maintaining a lack of retirement income has gotten so bad for seniors and retirees that they are taking out reverse mortgages, a banking scheme that allows homeowners to use the equity in their home as income. This comes with exuberant fees, high interest and a confusing agreement for the average elderly person.

Debt has also become a major hindrance to hitting retirement. According to a poll by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), more than half of retirees are living with debt and 55 percent say their debt has increased over the past year or stayed the same. Pre-retirement workers are also taking on enormous debt loads, such as credit cards, personal loans and their children’s student loans.

What are 40- and 50-year-olds doing for their retirement? An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey discovered that a strong majority of these workers are delaying their retirement in order to work more and play catch-up when they lost a bulk of their finances at the height of the Great Recession.

Perhaps this is the solution for many retirees: refraining from retiring.

Indeed, the labor market is certainly unstable and attaining employment is a lot easier said than done, but for those fortunate working right now the answer might be to work for the rest of your life. This could be the preferred method to survival or even flourishing.

There is numerous data highlighting the very fact that seniors who are in their 60s, 70s or even 80s lead much more productive and fulfilled lives when they reported working a part- or full-time job as opposed to just sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. Of course, no one wants to think about working until they’re in the grave, but the trend has suggested more people are doing this, whether out of compulsion or by choice.

Here are three reasons for not retiring and instead working during your winter years:

Health

Last year, a study by the Institute of Economic Affairs and Age Endeavour Fellowship in the United Kingdom entitled “Work Longer, Live Healthier” found that those who have finished working reported a decline in both physical and mental health. Although retirement at first seemed to be wonderful, retirees began to experienced health problems.

For instance, 40 percent were diagnosed with clinical depression, while 60 percent were identified with at least one physical condition.

“Untangling cause and effect in the relationship between retirement and health is very difficult,” said Gabriel H. Sahlgren, the study author. “Whereas the short-term impacts of retirement on health is somewhat uncertain, the longer-term effects are consistently negative and large.”

Other studies have indicated the same kind of thing. One study looked at the lives of 16,000 Greeks and concluded that more than half (51 percent) of retirees were likelier to die than those who at their age decided to continue to work.

One of the consistent elements of the illnesses and deaths among retirees is inactivity. Most retirees tend to lead a life of atrophy as opposed to spending it being active. Diminished exercise can hurt a senior’s health, but regular workout routines can extend the life of a retiree.

Finances

With life expectancy rates inching higher every year, the question has now become: are we financially prepared to live longer? According to several reports, including one by the C.D. Howe Institute, government policies, personal savings habits and pensions are not adapting to societal changes.

The fact is: our money in retirement won’t last long enough. Running out of money is one of the biggest concerns for retirees, especially when they live longer than they had expected to. Higher inflation – in both prices and currency – can lead to an unexpected higher cost of living and hurt the finances of seniors.

“There tends to be a false sense of security when it comes to planning for retirement,” stated Noel Archard, head of BlackRock Canada, in an interview with Yahoo! Finance. “We hope that the money will somehow be there when we need it but we’re not taking the action required to ensure it is. This is a serious problem, and addressing it must become an urgent priority.”

By staying in your current job or seeking a part-time employment opportunity upon hitting 65, a household can depend on at least one paycheck in addition to retirement investments, pensions and savings. Even performing freelance work at home – whether it’s writing, graphic design, taxes – is a superb option for anyone in their old age.

Boredom, No New Skills

One of the best things about life is the fact that we face new challenges and we use our inherent problem-solving ability to discover the answers. Once retirement strikes and you’re not working then these kinds of things won’t come along. After perhaps just a few months later, boredom will strike.

Of course, that boredom can be circumvented by taking up a new hobby and learning a new skill. However, it’s quite unlikely that you’ll learn how to play the piano, how to bake a soufflé or how to steer a boat. These ideas have become part of our daydreaming when we’re at work.

A monotonous routine can hurt anyone. Upon entering retirement, each day is pretty much the same. Friday, the day that every worker waits for each week, turns out to be like any other day: wake up, do some chores, eat and go to bed. Fiscal prudence is extremely important in your golden years so it would be difficult to take a trip around the world.

“Having purpose in our lives is a feature of being emotionally healthy whether we are retired or not,” wrote Carolyn Rosenblatt, a contributor to Forbes magazine. “We need structure, whether it comes from a job or from self-imposed structure we find in retirement through volunteerism or other pursuits we enjoy.”

Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that we must choose in life either boredom or suffering. It appears that boredom is the antithesis to retirement and suffering is the panacea to living longer.

Are you on the verge of retirement? Are you already retired? Share your ideas, concerns and suggestions in the comment section.

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