7 advantages of continuing to work in retirement

Portrait of senior businesswoman with laptop in the office

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When it comes to retirement, you have almost endless options in front of you. In a sense, it’s as you discard options that you begin to focus on what you will do and who you will be—or become.

One of the options could be to continue to work where you are now. Full time or part time. There are several advantages to this option. Here are seven:

1. It’s easy to do

Unless you plan to change your role or get another job, you don’t have to do anything, just keep working. If you’re self-employed, that’s easy. If not, your boss would like to know your intentions and will probably ask, but why don’t you initiate the conversation?

If you can keep doing what you’re doing, life continues on as it has. There’s little or no planning involved.

2. It gives you time for more planning

This is helpful, particularly if you aren’t sure about what you want to do in retirement. It gives you time to think through your options.

It may also be time to take some leave to test drive some ideas about what you think you might want to do. If you continue to work you may want to do an annual review of your situation to work out if it’s time for you to fully retire.

3. There’s a regular income

Once you begin to understand that the best retirement comes from a whole-of-life approach, money is only one area. And, despite the press it gets, it isn’t the most important. Ask yourself this question: health or money—if you could only have one or the other, which would it be?

That’s why money doesn’t appear here as the number 1 advantage of continuing to work. But don’t underestimate its importance, either. The advantage of continuing to work in some form means that you will have a regular income.

The other advantage is that the longer you keep working, the more you can work on reducing debt levels or growing your nest egg.

4. It helps keep a rhythm to your life

Like it or hate it, work helps set up the pattern for your days and your week. Most people have to wake at certain times to get to their workplaces, be at work for set hours and are then released for their own after-work life. Work gives structure to your life with certain goals that need to be met each day or week. For some people, this is important for them to keep a balanced life.

Not to be underestimated is the social interaction most workplaces create. Quite a number of studies show that retirees can ‘retire’ into themselves and not be as socially active as they should. That’s a warning that any retirement plan needs to include a social life and social involvement.

5. It gives you something to do

For Felimina Rotundo, this is her main reason for working in a laundry as a centenarian. However, for many, having ‘something to do’ will sound like a strange advantage. But some either desire the satisfaction that a job brings them or really don’t have alternatives in mind to fill in the space that work currently takes.

If that’s you, continuing to work in some way is an advantage.

6. There may be health benefits

The word ‘may’ is important for this point. Research in England—‘Work longer, live healthier’—claims that a ‘later retirement should, in fact, lead to better average health in retirement’. It discovered that ‘being retired decreases physical, mental and self-assessed health. The adverse effects increase as the number of years spent in retirement increases.’

The researchers don’t deny other studies demonstrating the health benefits of retirement, but make this point: ‘It is possible that health will initially improve when somebody retires and then, after a while, start to deteriorate due to reduced physical activity and social interaction.’

This research signals that for those not taking this whole-of-life approach to retirement there may be health risks. If you think that’s you, continuing to work has advantages.

7. The advantage for those who enjoy their work

If you love what you do for work, if it gives you meaning and purpose to your life and your health and effectiveness is good, why stop?

You may be just hanging out for the day when you stop work. If that’s the case, retire as soon as you can. If not, there are advantages in staying in your workplace.

Adapted from Refusing to Retire: The 70+-year-olds who just won’t quit a Kindle or e-book available on Amazon.

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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Category: Planning, Working

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