When we are young, many of us dream about early retirement and the fun we will have traveling and spending our elder years doing pretty much what we want. Unfortunately, that is not often how life turns out for most people. The reality is that most people realize by the time they hit their forties or fifties, that early retirement is no longer an option. In fact, there are a growing number of people who are finding it necessary to work into their seventies before they can comfortably retire.
There are a number of reasons why plans to retire early do not come to pass.
When we are first starting our adult life we are often involved in higher education, starting our career and/or starting our family. The last thing we usually think about is how we are going to accumulate enough money to retire. Some do think about that, but most of us are too busy living our life.
Unfortunately, we often get distracted by our desire to live the American Dream of owning our own home, buying the best car we can afford, gaining possessions, giving our children the opportunities we might not have had, and in general enjoying our life.
All too soon, we come upon the age where we start thinking about retirement and realize we are either too far in debt to retire when we planned to, or we did not save the money needed to have the life we had dreamed about years ago.
Economic woes over the years have caused many to lose their jobs and even their retirement funds, causing them to have little or nothing by the time they reach their sixties. A large number of people worked for many years, only to lose everything at an age when they were getting ready to retire.
That actually happened to my uncle who worked for a company for several decades, and had a great retirement plan set up only to see the well-regarded company go under just a couple years away from his retirement. It was a devastating time for him and his family.
Oddly enough, there can be an upside to working into your later years. One of the images of retirement people picture is someone sitting in their easy chair watching television, reading the daily paper, and living a life of ease. Unfortunately, that is setting the retiree up for possible health problems including heart ailments and stiffened joints.
While many retirees are able to travel and do remain active, many others do not. By continuing to work, older people often stay much more flexible than if they were retired and sitting at home. Seniors who are spending most of their day at home should undergo routine health check-ups to make sure they are getting enough exercise and eating the right food in order to stay healthy for a good long time.
Age discrimination a possibility
If you do decide to continue working past your retirement age, for whatever reason, you should be aware that seniors have been discriminated against in the past. Some employers dislike employing mature people because of a misguided notion that seniors cannot do a job better than a younger person. However, research by the Congress of California has revealed that seniors are actually less likely to phone in sick or quit and are on the whole more reliable.
However, it has actually been a diverse mix of human rights and an aging population that has forced the government’s hand. Discrimination against seniors has been outlawed in most states and labor laws have been altered to reflect this. It is now illegal for any employer to refuse to hire a senior on the basis of their age and they have to give a meaningful reason as to why they have refused a senior applicant a job.
Seniors actively looking for a part- or full-time job should try agencies that are designed to cater for their specific employment needs. Local councils, employment centers and age concern groups often provide a service that is geared towards meeting the needs of seniors looking for employment. Employers actually contact these groups with vacancies that they would prefer to be filled by more mature people, thus removing the slight possibility of being discriminated against.
Take care of your health
We all like to think that, as we get older, we will be able to enjoy life more while making the most of our free time during our retirement. The sad fact is that life just isn’t that simple or fair. Employment often means more to those who are older than it does to those who are younger. Whether you are working to earn a living or in order to stay socially active, be sure you put your physical and mental health first.
Get regular check-ups and use the available resources your company has in order to take care of any issues you have prior to your retirement. Also, save as much money as you can even into your late sixties and early seventies. As the life expectancy increases, you may need that money later on.
Whether you have to work or are continuing to work because you don’t feel ready to retire, remember life is to be enjoyed. Take advantage of senior perks, vacation opportunities, and health care options that will keep you healthy, wealthy and active long into your elder years.
For more information about early retirement, check out these resources.