72% of workers over the age of 50 plan to keep working in retirement, according to a 2014 Study. It seems to me we need a new word for “retirement”, because it no longer has the same meaning as it did 50 years or even 20 years ago. And then when we talk about Retirement Planning, people think it doesn’t apply to them.
Today’s workers are redefining how we think about work, life, money, and prosperity. The idea of achieving The Good Life varies from person to person, but there is a rising recognition that our sense of satisfaction and well being comes from a work/life balance and not simply having more money.
The traditional Retirement of working full-time to age 65, collecting your pension, and never working again, is disappearing. This change doesn’t just affect people in their sixties. Workers in their thirties, forties, and fifties are saying “Why should I work 50 hours a week during the prime of my life and not enjoy myself?”
And older adults don’t want to be thrown on the trash heap of obsolescence. They still have much to contribute, enjoy the challenge of work, and want to know that they can make a difference in the world.
The revolution is in how we think about work. People are no longer content to sacrifice their life for a company, career, or 401(k) account. Some call this The New Retirement, and while it does replace our old ideas about Retirement, these approaches have nothing to do with age. You could be 65 or 35 and embracing a whole different approach to work and retirement.
Below are 8 ways people are working and living differently today. Which are you? Which do you want to be? Where is your ideal work/life balance?
1) The Encore Career. Leave behind your practical first career and embark on something that fills you with joy. For some it may be working in the non-profit sector, or on a hobby, or passion. For others, it may be volunteer work if they do not need an income.
2) The Frugals. Many Americans will have to work forever to afford a huge house, new cars, and luxury lifestyle. More people today are rejecting consumerism with the belief that working to try to “Keep up with Joneses” is actually preventing you from enjoying your life. The Frugals are self-reliant and happy to find what they need used, on sale, or go without!
3) The Minimalists. They may live in a tiny house, have a very small wardrobe, or just hate clutter. It is surprising to me how many Minimalists used to have a lot of debt (student loans, car payments, credit cards. mortgages), and made a 180-degree turn to believing that less is more. Simplicity is happiness. Like the Frugals, Minimalists recognize that if you cut your annual expenses from $50,000 to $25,000, you only need half the assets or income to support your needs. That changes your reasons for work.
4) The Part-Timer. Also called the Phased Retirement, it’s a move from working full-time to less than full-time. Many part-timers work just enough to cover their bills. While that sounds spartan, if you are not touching your IRA or 401(k) for years, you are still letting those assets grow! Some companies are happy to have their veteran employees continue part-time, bringing their wealth of experience and knowledge to projects. And for many people, working 10-20 hours a week is the perfect amount to be enjoyable and rewarding, without being exhausting or too stressful.
5) The Retirement Entrepreneurs. Leave behind the 9-5 gig and start your own business as a consultant or by providing a good or service where you have some expertise. Be your own boss, have flexible hours, and work as much or as little as you need. Coupled with a pension, Social Security, or planned withdrawals, and you can still generate plenty of income. Or better yet, “retire” at 50 and use the business to bridge the years until you can tap into those real retirement income sources. In the past, many new businesses were very capital intensive, took long hours (50 hours or more per week), and had high rates of failure. Today’s lifestyle entrepreneurs want the 4-Hour Work Week, to not be an hourly slave, but to make money without huge risks or time commitments. And in the internet age, it can be done!
6) Multiple Income Streams. Many of the most financially secure people I know do not just have one job, they have multiple sources of income. Maybe one job is their main gig, and they also do consulting work, are a Reservist, own real estate, or have a weekend business. This gives you options. If one income stream takes off, you can drop the others and work part-time. In the mean time, you can save aggressively to become independent sooner.
7) The Traveler. Many people want to be able to see the world and spend more time with family. Today, with a laptop and a cell phone, more and more jobs are no longer tied to a desk. Smart people are looking for those positions – or creating them – so that they can work from anywhere. What if you could do your work from the Beach in the winter and the mountains in the summer?
8) The Contract Worker. In many fields, there are needs for short-term positions that may last 1-9 months. Some people will take a contract for 6 months, work hard, and then take off the next 6, 12, or 18 months. They can wait until they find another contract opportunity that interests them.
Francis Bacon said that Money makes a good servant but a bad master. Today more workers are asking how work can support their life and dreams, and not the other way around. They don’t want to be working forever and risk missing out on life. So, let’s put together your budget, look at the numbers, and start making plans. Financial Planning today is no longer just Retirement Planning – it’s helping you achieve your own path to independence, however you want to define it.