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Will You Have to Push Back Your Retirement?

by Miranda Marquit

One of the biggest fears that many Americans face is retirement. Will you have enough money to retire? That’s a question that many Americans are scared to answer, and the Great Recession has only made the retirement issue even more difficult.

A recent article on CNN Money reports on a Wells Fargo survey that makes it clear that many people are concerned about their retirement prospects. More than one-third of Americans think that they will be working until they turn 80. On top of that 37 percent of those surveyed expected to work until they died or until they got too sick to work.

Backtracking to a Different Era

push back retirement

Will you need to delay retirement?

The idea of working until death, without a retirement, is one that many Americans find distasteful. However, the reality is that many workers ended up in just that same situation. Many of us look at 65 as the retirement age right now, but there was a time, not too long ago, that retirement wasn’t really an option for most people. Most people worked until they could no longer do so—and then they were usually to old and/or inform to really enjoy life.

After a few decades of viewing retirement as a reward for years of hard work with a company (thanks in large part to pensions), things are changing again. An emphasis on employees providing most of their retirement funds, and a work environment that means more career changes rather than company loyalty, and it appears that the “dream” of retirement has already passed on.

The Wells Fargo survey seems to indicate that many Americans feel that we are returning to a situation that doesn’t allow for what we have come to view as a “traditional” retirement. Many respondents to the survey insist that saving for retirement is impossible if they also pay their bills, and that means that they will have to work well into their senior years.

What if You Don’t Want to Quit Working?

Of course, there is a segment of the population that isn’t interested in a more traditional retirement. There are some who want to keep working. Of course, they may not want to do the same job that earns their living right now. Instead, they look for ways to keep earning money, even later on.

I don’t know if I would like a retirement that involved just sitting around doing nothing. I’d want to keep doing something. (Honestly, it would probably be writing.) But that’s not the same thing as feeling as though you have to keep working at a soul-sucking job until you’re well into your 80s in order to make ends meet.

Really, it’s more about figuring out what you want your life to look like, rather than trying to guess what will happen in some sort of retirement. While I am saving money for the future, I don’t actively think about “retirement” per se. I’m more interested in figuring out how to live the lifestyle I want—one that doesn’t depend on me reaching a certain age.

What do you think about retirement? What does it mean to you? And will you need to push it back?


Published or updated October 28, 2013.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kurt

I don’t look forward to day when I’m not working. Whether I need the money or not, I intend to keep working part-time at occupations I enjoy as long as I’m physically and mentally able. My 81-year old Dad still works a demanding week as a freelance architect. He loves it, so why should he stop? And I think staying engaged has improved the quality of his life and kept him sharp.

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2 Ryan Guina

Kurt, I’m in the same boat – to a degree. I want to remain meaningfully engaged. But that doesn’t necessarily mean working (at least in the traditional sense). I love being productive, and I don’t think that will ever change. But there are many ways to remain productive. My father-in-law loves to build things around his house, help out with his church, travel, play golf, and do various other side projects that keep his mind and body engaged. I think he loves being retired and I’m positive he doesn’t miss his old job. I think I will find myself in a similar place. I will fill my days doing productive activities I enjoy. I won’t be the kind of retiree who sits around and watches TV all day!

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3 Debt BLAG

I’m in the same boat. There are a number of things I’d love to try, even part-time, that retirement — or something earlier more along the lines of financial independence — would be the perfect time for. Even then, though, I’d still like to have the option, even if I don’t take it.

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