I Don’t Plan to Retire

“I do not plan to retire.” As I have crept ever closer to my desired retirement age, 60, I have heard that phrase more often than I would have thought.

Numerous recent studies have shown that a majority of workers are planning to work past the age of 65, many are planning to work past age 70, and some have no plans to ever retire.

Beach Solitude

In writing the book, running this blog, talking with others (friends, family and co-workers), my experience has been that there are generally three reasons people give for not planning to retire (or working well past their mid-60s, traditionally a time when people retire). They are not sure what they would do in retirement, sincerely enjoy their work/career or are not financially prepared.

This post speaks to those that might fall into one of the first two categories. I should note that this topic was touched on tangentially in SavvyPoll Number Three and Thoughts on Retirement, a guest post by long-time reader Brian. For those that are not sure what they would do in retirement, I would encourage you to start giving some thought to what you would do; and for those that enjoy working, I hope that is always the case.

However, to those in both groups, I would say the decision to work – or not work and in fact, retire – may not be up to you. Therefore, it is absolutely in your best interest to develop a retirement plan that not only considers the financial implications of being retired, but also what to ‘do’ on a daily basis.

Some sobering facts. The Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) notes that a large percentage of retirees leave the workforce earlier than planned (49 percent in 2014) and many who retire earlier than they had planned often do so for negative reasons, such as a health problem or disability (61 percent).

A 2011 study conducted by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University found that 35% workers over the age of 50 said they are not going to be able to work as long as they had expected.

Health Tops Reasons for Early Retirement [Life Health Pro]

Even if an individual is healthy well into their 60s and 70s, they may be the victim of layoffs, restructuring or downsizing. Other numbers from the study are equally sobering. Less than one in four workers (23%) over 50 years of age is working full-time; just under half (46%) expect to file for Social Security earlier than they wanted to; and another 18% already have done so.

The bottom line? Even if you love your job, are healthy and plan on working forever, the reality is that there are likely factors that will negatively impact your ability to do so. If your retirement plan is to work forever, I suggest you give the topic more thought. For everyone, a fully developed retirement plan is a must.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. A Google+ reader notes…

    “–I do not WANT to work forever but circumstances appear I will be forced to. If one does not possess the means to save properly what can be done? Life is not easy.”

    • Agreed, life is not easy. Not only is it not easy, it is often unfair and luck plays a role. Contrary to what many believe, I believe luck plays a larger role than many – particularly those that have found significant success – acknowledge.

      I understand that finding the extra money to save/invest is very difficult for some and the knowledge to do so is not possessed by many. However, I believe both factors can be overcome by most people. That is the primary reason I run my blog. It is my attempt to share what I know to be true; to share what has worked for me.

      I offer my thoughts on how to get started, more generally in this blog post, Starting Late? KISS, and more specifically in my book. Contact me and I will get you a complimentary copy.

  2. This post echoes my sentiments exactly. I’m still not too far removed from optometry school, but many eye docs work well into their 60’s and 70’s and are happy to do it. It’s a (relatively) low stress job for healthcare and it makes a big difference in patients lives. I would love to be one of these docs but I know that nothing is guaranteed. Disability is surprisingly common, so who knows if I’ll even be able to work to the ripe old age of 70.

    As is always the case with financial planning, you should hope for the best and plan for the worst. That means being properly insured and contributing what you can to retirement. Besides, if you are lucky enough to enjoy your job and work into your 70’s, that 401k can just serve as a yearly dream vacation fund.

    • All well stated. I have a good friend, a pilot, who loves his job and plans to work for as long as he continues to love it and is physically able (there are many stringent requirements for pilots) to do so. However, as he has noted, he is only one failed physical away from being out of a job/career. Therefore, he plans for retirement accordingly. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the conversation, Syed.

  3. I don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do now so there’s no way I will be bored. In fact I would welcome more time, as I find it stressful when so many things are left undone. However, that could still happen in retirement too, so maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. 😉

    • Like you, I can’t imagine being bored. There are just too many golf holes to play, miles to ride, the company of friends and family to be enjoyed, cities to explore, trails to hike, etc. My biggest concern is being as healthy as possible, for as long as possible, to enjoy all that life has to offer; hence my oft mentioned references to physical and fiscal (and spiritual and mental) fitness. Not only is attention to your overall well-being important during the working years, it is a factor in how you will be able to enjoy the years in retirement.

      Thanks for stopping by, amiga.

  4. I do have a retirement plan and it is to retire at 60 and do what I absolutely LOVE to do, which is whatever that may be that day! I am fortunate that I have a savvy hubby that knows how to figure, track and plan for our retirement. If it was up to me I couldn’t say that it would be the same. We have planned for things that may be out of our control; therefore, we have several streams of income and money in the bank.

    This is a great post and glad that you are making people aware that it may not be an option to work until whenever.

    • It all starts with a plan. Absolutely. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  5. Although I’m nowhere close to retirement age, I don’t think I’d ever want to retire (just having too much fun!) You hear a lot of stories about people who retire, go travelling for 2 years and come back to work. I can’t imagine waking up on a beach every day for the rest of my life. What am I supposed to do?

    • No doubt that a lot of people derive a great deal of pleasure from work. For those that do, I hope that is always the case and I hope their health allows them to do so for as long as they desire. However, as indicated in the post, the decision to work or not is not always in the hands of the individual. Better to plan for retirement – particularly with respect to being financially secure – and keep working if that is the desire, than to desire to keep working but not be able to do so…and find yourself struggling financially.

      You note that there are people who travel for two years and then find themselves going back to work. I would suggest that is because they didn’t really have a true retirement plan. In addition to planning money management, retirement planning also needs to involve planning activities. You have to know what you are going to do on regular basis; not necessarily every minute of every day, but a thought out plan that considers weekly/monthly activities.

      I was speaking with a retired friend recently – who is in his mid 60s – that indicated he didn’t know how he ever found the time in the day to do things when he was working. He remarked how he found himself running out of time each day to accomplish all the things he wanted to. Rebuilding a Jeep Willy is one of his current projects. As for me and the wife, our plans include traveling (even with all my prior travel experience, there are innumerable places right here in the U.S. we have yet to visit), golfing, volunteering, more golfing, hiking, riding bikes, more golfing, learning a foreign language, more golfing, learning guitar, etc. I can’t imagine working too much beyond 60, just as I can’t imagine that I will not remain active and engaged once retired.

      Thanks for stopping by and adding to the discussion, Adam.

  6. I plan to retire. The earlier the better. Having kids complicates the picture, but the longer I work, the less I want to continue. Possibly a complete change of careers/industries would help. Or possibly starting my own business. To quit or not should be a personal decision. If you can and are able to work until 70, 80 beyond, go for it.

    • “To quit or not should be a personal decision.” Absolutely agree. At the end of the day, working toward financial independence means putting yourself in a position to have choices, to do what works best for you as an individual and for your family.

      Thanks for stopping by, Wade and adding to the conversation.

  7. A Google+ reader notes…

    “That’s why I’m working towards my goals. I’ll never stop working. I’ll just transition to the things I WANT to do instead of the things I have to do.”

    • Absolutely! As I often tell people, for me, attaining wealth – at least my definition – is not about acquiring and hoarding as much money as possible. It is about placing myself in a position to do the things I want to do…on my terms. Achieving financial freedom means having choices.

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