By | May 7, 2017

If you’re like me, you have fond memories of your grandparents being retired and playing with you. I can even remember when my father retired after 30+ years with his company.  He got a watch at his company party.Retirement Watch

Your own retirement may be a different story. Today, it is not automatic that you will be retired by the time you’re 65 years old just because “that’s the way it works.”  In fact, it’s unlikely that you’ll be retired by age 65; if you are, you are one of the lucky ones. I say lucky because there are many people today who are not going to be able to retire at all when the rest of their friends are making that life change.

Until recently, retirement was an expected life transition that happened soon after you turned 60. Some companies even offered early retirement to allow for the younger set coming up the ranks to continue moving, and to “move out” the older, more “expensive” employees. Nowadays, people working jobs are punching the clock, working paycheck to paycheck, and with any luck are putting away funds for retirement. Some people are even  working extra hours to have more savings in the hopes that someday they’ll have the freedom to leave the workforce.

This is scary folks!

According to the latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as noted by Bloomberg, approximately 20% of Americans over the age of 65 are still working. Some don’t even plan to retire at all.  I can’t even imagine that, can you?

Why Can’t I Retire?

You’re probably asking, why? Why would someone not want to or be able to retire? Let’s take a look at some of the unfortunate realities many are facing.  Maybe it’s not too late for you.  An article I read recently mentioned these three factors:

  • You Didn’t Save Enough

Baby boomers took a big hit with two financial setbacks.  They rode the storm in the late ‘90s with the tech bust, and just as things were starting to come back there was the second financial crisis on the mid 2000s.  We all know of folks who lost what little savings they had just to pay the bills.

I’ve seen it suggested that young people today should be saving between 15-22% to be ready for a successful retirement.  The sooner you can get started on planning for retirement the better. We’ve talked about how money grows and the need to begin saving early in other articles (such as Procrastination: Bad News for Retirement Savings).

  • I Love My Job – I Can’t Retire

Some of us are blessed with loving the jobs we’ve worked. We have relationships that we don’t want to walk away from.  We derive a sense of purpose, of being needed, and seeing our accomplishments can be a real boost. The continuing paycheck and benefits are pretty good, too. Work is comfortable and familiar.

Some people are afraid of the unknown and can’t even imagine venturing out.  I have to say that I loved the job I was at when we decided it was time to retire. To have had a job you love is a huge blessing that some people never find.

  • I Still Have DebtsDebts

Whether it be a car loan or the mortgage on your house, if you still have debts you should probably not retire yet.  In retirement, most people are already living on a smaller monthly amount.  So, if you have a loan or credit card balance, that will drain your monthly budget a lot quicker.  Nobody wants to feel overly stretched when it comes to money.

What if I Don’t Retire?

It’s not the end of the world if you aren’t able to retire. Some people can’t afford to retire and therefore shouldn’t.  Some people retire and quickly run out of money and have to return to working. Others retire and don’t find any enjoyment out of being retired.

We have retired, had our plan in place, had been frugal during our working lives, and are ready to enjoy a comfortable retirement. We weren’t “rich” while we were working, so we shouldn’t (and don’t) act like we are rich now.  We continue to pinch pennies and keep a careful budget. Moving abroad has really helped us to do so sooner rather than later. We made the decision to retire while we were still young so that we could enjoy ourselves together.Inheritance

A funny thing happened only a few months into our retirement.  A new career found us! We have embraced the crazy learning curve and potential for income that will supplement our retirement and give us the funds to really set out a legacy for our children and grandchildren, far in excess of what we had dreamed was possible. We’re still a work in progress, but we have decided to make this run and see where we land.  We certainly do not find retirement to be dull!

What are your plans for retirement? Are you planning on working past traditional retirement age? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.



  1. SmarterSquirrel

    I was lucky. My first real job paid me no more than $12,000 for the whole year. It was a terrible salary but it taught me how little anyone actually needs to enjoy life. From there I made a career change and got progressively better pay over the years. But since I was accustomed to a simple lifestyle I was able to save a lot of my money and invest it. By age 47 I was able to retire with a six figure salary. Like yourselves I’m troubled by the amount of people I see around me with financial stress and I’m doing everything I can to spread the word on making better financial decisions. If I can help just one person improve their financial situation, then my efforts have been worth it. Great job on your site! I hope you enjoy mine!

    1. David Hagstrom

      Thanks for your encouraging words. We share your concern for our peers who are struggling, as well as the deep desire to help those we can. Keep up the good work on you site. Blessings! ~ David & Dana

  2. ches

    Well I’ve just turned 70 and I’m still working, albeit as a sole trader but all the same, I would love to have enough money to stop working and start doing all the things I want to do.
    Living in the UK, many of us are still working and many of my friends and relatives are of a similar age to me and still maintain a job. As for the youngsters, I think giving up nearly a quarter of their wages for a pension is a big ask, especially when so many are struggling to pay their rent or get onto the property ladder.
    I am trying to get into writing articles and posts, but it certainly won’t pay any bills at the moment. Problem is, I’m not too computer or techie savvy. I can work a computer within my own profession like photoshop etc., but anything outside of my realm I would have to learn from scratch, which is a bit scary at my age.
    Still, I’m healthy (touch wood) as is my husband and partner and that is much more important than being financially wealthy. Thanks for the post. Ches

    1. David Hagstrom

      Thank you so much for your heartfelt and personal sharing from the perspective of life in the UK. I’d certainly agree with the value of being healthy at this stage in life. And, you’re right, for our young adults unless they are working for a company which sponsors a pension on their behalf, setting aside enough on their own is quite difficult.

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