Many people look to retirement as their golden years. After a career of working for a corporation, small business or the government, you can look forward to magical, worry-free years of travel, sports, parties, family, friends, and waking up without an alarm clock. Sounds wonderful, right? Well, not so fast.
Today, our common retirement age is 65 years old. Yet, in 1930, three years before the establishment of Social Security, the life expectancy in the U.S. was 62 years old. Thus, a majority of Americans did not even live to full retirement age. The gap between retirement age and live expectancy was quite small. In 2019, the overall life expectancy in the U.S. is 78 with an increasing number of people living into their mid-90s or beyond.
Unfortunately, many people now work in a professional job for 30 years, retire in their 50s, and spend more years in retirement than they worked. With cost of living increases, it is a simple math equation to see that we cannot afford this situation as a country. As people get covered by Medicare at age 65, government payments for healthcare can last for 30 or more years.
Even with Social Security, Medicare, and personal savings and investments, living for 40 years without a solid income stream is a risky endeavor. An economic downturn, major health issue, family problems, housing crisis, stock market correction or many other life events can throw a dagger through your economic plan. Even in an optimistic scenario, a nest egg of $2 million can be spent down to a small level after 40 years.
Outside of money, what about life purpose? Is it healthy to wake up each morning without the discipline of work. Although, to many people the answer is hell, yes. They think that removal from office politics, difficult co-workers, and no more short deadlines is a huge plus. Well, maybe avoiding these issues on a short-term basis is a good thing.
There is a middle ground between working in a highly structured, stressful job and not working at all. The Internet provides a boundless opportunity for part-time, work at home endeavors. As an empty nester with fewer bills along with retirement funds, the supplemental income needed to avoid spending down your nest egg is modest. A monthly income of $2,000 may be all that is necessary to stabilize your financial ship.
At the same time, you will have daily projects to keep your mind challenged, clients to serve, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are still contributing to the economy. This work structure can occur on a flex-time basis so you can integrate your time with work and personal tasks. Your quality of life will stay strong as your bank account grows or at least does not decline. With a consistent income stream, you can donate additional funds to the charities of your choice.
Savvy families know their influence has no bounds especially over multi-generations. Making sure your income grows over a long retirement is the best way to leave money to your family in a way, which can last for several generations. Imagine the satisfaction in knowing your family descendants 100 years from now will be educated or not have to face financial hardship. By setting up a foundation, you can always donate money to a charity on an annual basis long after your passing.
Value of Work
Consider making a commitment to working for as long as you can regardless of the structure. If you have the good fortune of health, which can keep you working into your 80s or 90s, then keep on going. When this situation is not in the cards, dedicate yourself to the unlimited opportunities brought to us by the Internet age. Personally, I like the concept of digital farming. Just as family farm members worked for the remainder of the lives at a reduced pace, we too can work for many more years with digital content. The Internet can be the family farm of the future. Anyone in the household can contribute to family income through online projects or work.
Perhaps, the dream of a stress-free, retirement is fool’s gold sold to us by the retirement industry. Be sure to take control of your mature years with an independent perspective that takes into account the possibility of a long life in a practical way. Since I enjoy my work, I have decided to trade the image of retirement for the steady, quiet satisfaction of my online, digital writing skills for a long as I am able. Have I challenged you to consider another road?