Many people dream of the day when they can finally quit working and enjoy retirement. But to Warren Buffett, retirement “is not my idea of living,” he once said.
He might be onto something. At 87 years young, when many of his contemporaries have long since retired, Buffett remains at the helm of his uber-successful company Berkshire Hathaway. With a current net worth of $85 billion, he’s also one of the richest men in the world and one of the most successful investors of all time.
Click through to find out when you’re better off waiting on retirement.
1. You’re Healthy Enough to Keep Working
People are living longer and they’re healthier than ever before. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, those 55 and older will make up 25 percent of the labor force. But not everyone is able to continue working into old age. According to the National Institute on Aging, 35 percent of people aged 55 to 59 retired due to health problems.
Buffett remains healthy and sharp as a tack. He has said that even if his muscles weaken and his stamina slows, he’ll continue to do business as usual because that won’t affect his ability to pick stocks or buy companies. Maintaining your health gives you the option to work as long as you want.
2. Continued Work Supports Healthy Aging
Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara kept right on working until his death at age 105 in July 2017. He was just practicing what he preached. Hinohara was one of the foremost experts on longevity in Japan and the chairman emeritus of St. Luke’s International University when he died. “There is no need to ever retire,” he told the Japan Times. “But if one must, it should be a lot later than 65.”
A 2016 study by Oregon State University agrees. Researchers found that adults working even a year beyond retirement age had a significantly lower mortality rate whether they were in good health or not. “The findings seem to indicate that people who remain active and engaged gain a benefit from that,” wrote the paper’s senior author, Robert Stawski.
3. You Can Add to Retirement Savings
The longer you work, the lower your chances of outliving your retirement assets. According to 2017 GOBankingRates study, one-third of Americans have no retirement savings and nearly half have savings of $10,000 or less. As soon as you leave the workforce, you’ll likely live on a fixed income and count on any retirement savings you might have set aside.
By continuing to work, you can keep contributing to your retirement savings plan and capitalize on the additional years of compounding interest and portfolio growth. Like Buffett, you can rest easier knowing you have the means to retire but made the choice to continue working and building wealth.
4. You’ll Collect More Social Security
Although you can start collecting early retirement at age 62, your benefits will only be a fraction of what you’ll receive if you wait until full retirement age. The current age is 67 for those born in 1960 or after. Retire at 62 and your Social Security benefits will be reduced by 35 percent from what you’d receive at age 67. Delay your retirement beyond full retirement age (up to age 70) and you can qualify for delayed requirement credits that increase the value of your payments by 8 percent for every year you wait.
5. It’s Still Your Life’s Purpose
If you’re passionate about what you accomplish on the job, you might not be ready to give it up just because you hit retirement age. Queen Elizabeth, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, pledged on her 21st birthday to serve the country for her entire life. Now in her early 90s, she shows no intention of changing her mind.
Although the monarch’s son, Prince Charles, and grandson, Prince William, have taken over more royal duties since the retirement of Prince Philip, the queen’s husband, from public life last August, Queen Elizabeth is quoted as saying that it’s “duty first, nation first, I’m going to be there,” according to The Times of London.
6. You Can Try a New Line of Work
Even if you decide to retire from your present job, it doesn’t mean you have to spend your days sitting at home. The life change provides an ideal opportunity to try a late-life career change. Loren Wade worked at Walmart 30 hours per week until just a few months before his 2016 death at age 104. His 30-year career at Walmart began in his 70s after he retired from a longtime career. But Walmart isn’t the only option for older workers. The BLS shows older workers make up a third or more of the workforce in careers such as museum curators, real estate workers, tax preparers and travel agents. Plus, there lots of senior-friendly jobs that are perfect for retirement.
7. You Can Mentor Others
Buffett attributes much of his success to learning from older and wiser teachers. In the Berkshire Hathaway owner’s manual, Buffett writes, “I benefited enormously from the intellectual generosity of Ben Graham, the greatest teacher in the history of finance and I believe it appropriate to pass along what I learned from him, even if that creates new and able investment competitors just as Ben’s teachings did for him.” Just like Buffett, delaying retirement can let you impart your wisdom and experience to others.
8. Your Expertise is Unique
As an older worker, you have likely survived layoffs, mergers, management changes, changing industry standards and other major shifts in the workplace. Your unique perspective can benefit present management and coworkers alike.
“When we talk to employers, what they say is they recognize the competencies and skills that older workers bring, particularly those that are very client-facing, because that social capital means a lot in terms of maintaining business,” Marcie Pitts-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center, told The New York Times.
If you’re nearing retirement, consider staying on and continuing to tap your wisdom and institutional knowledge to bring value to your workplace.
9. It’s the Trend of the Future
Nearly 40 percent of people age 55 and older are working or actively looking for work, according to the latest data from the BLS. This age group makes up about 23 percent of the total workforce, and numbers are on the rise. Meanwhile, the pool of younger workers is declining. Where workers ages 25 to 54 made up about 72 percent of the workforce in the mid and late 1990s, the age group makes up just 64 percent now. Younger workers under age 24 are declining even faster, accounting for just 13 percent of workers where they once were 25 percent of the workforce a few decades ago.
10. You Love Your Job
For some, it’s the dream of a lifetime to have a job you’d never want to quit. Buffett told the Huffington Post that he’s “tap dancing to work every day” and that “it doesn’t get better than that.”
Doing what you love is one of the top reasons many people never retire, including many celebrities. Musician Willie Nelson is among them. “What do you want me, to quit?” he recently said in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning. “I just play music and a little golf, and I don’t wanna give up either one of those!”
Job love isn’t just for the rich and famous. “We live in a work-identified culture,” Jacquelyn B. James, co-director of the Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, told The New York Times. “By the time you’re in your 60s and 70s, you’ve probably worked yourself into something you enjoy doing.” Even your hobbies can make you money in retirement.
11. You Can Work Part-Time
Some companies offer older workers an option to cut back on hours or have more flex time, letting people of retirement age still be productive with more time for family and individual pursuits. Even if your company doesn’t offer the option to go part-time instead of retiring, there are plenty of opportunities for seniors. The BLS notes that 27 percent of workers 55 and older are employed part-time, filling roles such as ushers, product demonstrators, cashiers and crossing guards. There are lots of great part-time jobs with flexible hours for retirees.
12. It Keeps You Mentally Sharp and Socially Connected
Many people say their jobs give them a sense of purpose and a way to maintain friendships. Each weekend, customers head to the McDonald’s in Evansville, Ind., where 94-year-old Loraine Maurer has been a cashier since 1973. “I like my customers and they are my family, not just customers,” Maurer told the “Today” show. “I know them all. I can’t say I know all their last names and things like that, but I do know them and [when] I see them come in the store, I usually remember what they want in their coffee.”
Maurer’s mental sharpness might be partly due to continuing to work into old age. A 2017 study by the University of Padua in Italy shows that retirement at the age of eligibility has a detrimental effect on cognitive ability and can be used to predict the onset of dementia.
13. You’ll Stay Engaged and Productive
Experts say it’s not uncommon for retirees to become depressed shortly after leaving their jobs, especially if it’s work they enjoyed. If you derive great satisfaction from your job, why consider quitting just because you’ve reached a certain age?
Depression in Retirement: Secrets About Retiring That No One Wants to Talk About
Reg Buttress was Britain’s oldest supermarket worker at 94 years of age until he retired in September 2017. He originally retired at age 65 but found himself bored with retirement after just six weeks, returning to work at Sainsbury’s for another 30 years. He performed a number of jobs, including pricing items, collecting carts, stocking goods and greeting customers. His retirement lasted just two months before he passed away on Nov. 20, 2017.
14. You Might Stay More Physically Fit
If your job requires physical activity, you’re likely to keep a higher level of physical fitness into your later years than by retiring to a life of leisure. Dentist Tom Hand continues to work at the age of 81, just like he has for the past 58 years. “Physically, it makes me take care of myself,” Hand said in a “Today” show interview. “Practicing dentistry is physical work.”
A 2017 study of recently retired adults found that many people trend toward more health-compromising sedentary behaviors post-retirement, such as reading, computer use and watching TV.
15. You’ll Have No Regrets
A recent Bankers Life survey found that 69 percent of middle-income baby boomers who already retired said they did so earlier than expected.
If you are in good health and enjoy your work, there’s no reason to call it quits. The extra time in the workforce gives you more control over your finances and lets you make plans to stay active, physically fit and mentally engaged when you do retire.
Meanwhile, if you want more flexibility, it might be worthwhile to ask your employer for a flexible schedule or more time off — whatever it takes to stay employed.
More on Retirement
- 30 Ways to Retire Earlier
- The Best Places to Retire in America Are All College Towns
- 10 Best Savings Accounts of 2019
- Watch: How One Couple Retired in Their 30s to Travel in an Airstream RV
We make money easy. Get weekly email updates, including expert advice to help you Live Richer™.
Photos are representational and don’t depict the people described in the article.
About the Author
Jodi O’Connell is a freelance wordsmith based in Sedona, Arizona, who writes about everything from vacation vagary and adventure sports to real estate and pets. She spent more than a decade in Arizona’s real estate industry advising first-time homebuyers and commercial investors before indulging her passion for the written word on a full-time basis. Her articles appear on websites as diverse as U.S. News and World Report, USA Today, Hipmunk, Roots Rated, and Travelocity.