By their early 60s, many people are looking forward to their last day of work and a comfortable retirement.
You have to hustle to stay relevant, employed and in business. — Julia Chung
But, that wasn’t the case for Jane Angelich, who in 2013 found herself interviewing for a nonprofit position at age 62 after decades of serial entrepreneurship. She didn’t need a job, she just wanted one.
“I wanted to go back into the workforce and see how over 25 years of working for myself would translate in a corporate setting,” said Angelich, now 63. She ultimately moved across the US to become the vice president of e-commerce for the National 4-H Council, a youth development and empowerment organisation. “I wanted it to be with a nonprofit organisation. I plan on enjoying every minute of it, with no end in sight. I plan on being around here a long time.”
Working in retirement isn’t just for those who can’t afford to quit. There are many retirement-age workers who remain employed in either full- or part-time work simply because they enjoy it. Of the 75% of US workers who expect to work for as long as they can, 39% say it’s because they like it, according to a poll from Bankrate.com. Now that the UK has abolished the forced retirement age, more than 1 million people over age 65 are choosing to stay in work, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. In fact, only 29% of UK workers expect to quit entirely after retirement, according to research from Aegon. And in Spain and France, only about half of workers expect to stop working when they reach retirement age.
“Often people that are working longer love what they’re doing,” said Chris Long, a financial planner with Long Financial Planning in Chicago in the US. The extra income is nice, but it’s about something else for some non-retirees. “It’s more about the enjoyment of the work. It helps them feel fulfilled in life.”
If you want to work well into your 60s or 70s, here are some pointers:
What it will take: You’ll need to keep your skills fresh, continue networking and stay in good health. It also helps to work in a field — or plan to work in a field — that lends itself to older workers.
“I’ve very rarely seen seniors toughing it out for a long time in labour-intensive jobs,” said Julia Chung, a financial and estate planner with JYC Financial in Langley, British Columbia in Canada. “I see a number of seniors in consulting and executive positions, as well as home-based businesses that employ their more artistic skills.”
How long you need to prepare: It depends on the amount of change you’re envisioning. “If you want to just phase back, then you might want to start thinking about that a couple of years before it happens,” Long said. “If you’re changing careers, I might start five years or even 10 years back, investigating different options for something to do.”
Do it now: Stay current. Some workers tend to coast toward the end of their careers, but if you want to remain working in your chosen field, don’t be one of them. Continue being proactive: attend conferences, take classes to stay abreast of the latest technology, go to industry events and network with colleagues.
“Don’t paint yourself into a corner of comfort,” Chung said. “That’s the place where we lose our edge, no matter how old we are. You have to hustle to stay relevant, employed and in business.”
Test out any new fields you’re considering. If you plan to quit your current job and try your hand at something else in retirement, make sure you know what you’re getting into. “A lot of times, something looks great from the outside but when you get into it, there’s a lot of stuff that may not be a good fit,” Long said. “Try working in that field part-time or volunteering in it first.”
Work with a professional. There are a variety of ways that income after a certain age can affect your pension or benefit income. “If you work beyond 65 in New Zealand and you earn other income because you are working, your superannuation [pension] payments are reduced,” said Rod Mudgway, a financial advisor with Brackenridge Financial Solutions in Auckland, New Zealand.
And, if you’re collecting social security payments before full retirement age in the US, and you earn more than a certain amount, the government will reduce your payments accordingly.
It also may not be possible to work and collect benefits simultaneously in some countries. “Recently a colleague of mine wished to continue working and at the same time draw his French pension,” said Michael Lodhi, a financial advisor with the Spectrum IFA Group in Paris. But, a tax advisor told him it simply wasn’t possible. “Good planning is essential,” Lodhi said.
At the same time, earning income late in life might also make it possible for you to delay taking your pension or benefits payments, which may increase the amount you’ll receive later. “That’s definitely true of social security,” Long said. “You get your maximum benefit at age 70.” A financial advisor can help you run the numbers.
Don’t count on the income for now — or later. Continuing to earn money can make a big difference in your retirement plan — but it’s not a guarantee. “From a purely financial planning point of view, one should never rely on the ability to continue to work as we get older,” Lodhi said. “In a perfect world, make sure you have sufficient pension income available and treat additional employment income as a bonus.”
Do it later: Keep an eye on your health benefits. Working for an employer that offers health insurance can be a great perk of continuing to work — but in Canada, for instance, many group benefits plans won’t cover you after a certain age, usually 65.
“The extended health care, dental care, life and disability insurance that many employees are used to just dry up,” said Chung. Plan for it, understand what your options are for private medical coverage, and what is available in your province under the public medical system.
Allow for some wiggle room. Even for the best laid plans, sometimes life gets in the way. “You may want to work forever, but family changes, anything from the arrival of grandchildren to an illness, may require more of your time, or there could be industry changes,” Chung said. “The list is endless.”
Do it smarter: Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Extra cash is helpful, but don’t spend so much time with your nose to the grindstone that you miss out on late-in-life opportunities. Spend time with your family, enjoy some hobbies and leisure, and take care of your health.
“I like to see people at least reduce the amount of time they’re working when they are in retirement,” Chung said — including even those who love their work. “If you can take advantage of increased freedom, I would recommend it. You can’t put a price on joy.”
Source: BBC Capital