The biggest loser in America’s most recent recession may have been the dream of a traditional retirement starting at age 65 and, more importantly, being entirely comfortable. Healthcare costs are astronomically high, wages have stagnated, and cushy, old-school pensions have all but vanished. Americans are also living longer than ever before, and adult children are living with their parents longer than ever before.
Together, these economic factors alone are keeping people in the workforce beyond their target retirement dates. But there are more subtle reasons workers are choosing to continue punching the clock or coming out of retirement to rejoin the workforce. In 2016, there are several compelling reasons—beyond economics—to consider pausing your retirement and going back to work.
Work Can Keep You Healthy
You might think that turning your photo in to ID to human resources will free you up to exercise and be more physically active… but you’d be wrong. Sadly, research shows the opposite to be true.
Retirement can actually cause both your physical and mental health to take a downward turn. “People who are close to retirement age show the highest rates of weight gain and obesity,” according to the authors of a 2009 study published in the Journal of Psychological Science. Nearly 40,000 people between the ages of 50 and 71 were studied over the course of a decade. Researchers found that retirees saw their body mass index (BMI) increase an average of 0.24.
Without a job to get you out of the house each day, falling into a sedentary lifestyle is a real risk for retirees. You not only lose out on physical activity, but you also on the social interactions that, without trying to sound too morbid, make life worth living. The isolation that sometimes comes with retirement can lead to depression simply due to the lack of personal contact with others.
Work Gives Your Life Purpose
No one is saying your life is meaningless without a business card, but there’s no denying that a job gives you purpose. Whether you love your job or not, completing a day’s work gives you a sense of accomplishment that a round of golf or game of cribbage cannot.
Retirement can also change your very identity. Consider the standard questions you hear when meeting new people: What’s your name? What do you do? Obviously you name isn’t going to change, but how are you going to answer that other defining question? Without a job, who are you? Losing your occupation can have hidden psychological consequences.
If you’re married but your spouse is still working, you two are now in quite different stages of life, which could throw off your relationship. One of you has a schedule to keep, a job to do, a purpose, a professional identity. The other has a lot of free time to fill alone. If that’s you, it might be better for your relationship (and your retirement fund) to come out of retirement until you’re both ready to hang it up together.
Working Saves You Money
With people living longer, retirement accounts need to be stretched further than ever before. Working longer gives you the opportunity to pad your 401Ks and IRAs to account for those extra years. Plus, the longer you wait to dip into those funds, the longer they have to accumulate interest.
What few people accurately take into account, however, is the fact that working can also save you money. The prime example is health insurance. If you’re lucky enough to work somewhere with company-paid health insurance, that is money saved on your end. Another example is travel. If you have a job that sends you to conferences or training seminars, you’re racking up frequent flier miles you can use later for vacation. (Plus, you can use the company’s dime to find out whether or not Vegas is really worth the trip.)
Also, did you know you can earn a bigger Social Security check if you delay retirement? Here’s an example from U.S. News & World Report:
A baby boomer who could get $750 per month at age 62 would get $1,000 per month at age 66 and $1,320 monthly at age 70…. Social Security benefits are calculated based on your 35 highest-earning years in the workforce. So, if you earn more than you did earlier in your career, you could further boost your payments.
Ready to Un-Retire?
According to Fortune magazine, “if history is your guide, it’s time to prepare. The odds of a recession in 2016 may be less than 50%, but not by much. And in 2017, the odds shift.” Unless you’re sitting on a nicely fattened nest egg, it may be in your best interest to dust off your resume and consider finding a job. Do it not out of fear, but for all the reasons covered above. Do it for your health, both mental and physical. Do it for your relationship. Do it for yourself and have fun… this time around, you get to be picky about where you go.