The End of Retirement

Each month when I sit down to consider the topic for my monthly newsletter, I pretty much let the topic come to me and see where it leads me.  This month several sources pointed me to this month’s topic.  On Saturday I spoke with my brother in law and he told me they just got back from a wedding in Maine for one of their friend’s daughters, and the father of the bride and another friend discussed their recent retirements.  They shared that after an initial couple of months of travel, golf and puttering around the house, they both came to the same conclusion, that they were bored to tears and they were searching for what to do next.  My sister had a similar conversation with their wives and they shared that their husbands were driving them nuts!  This only reconfirmed what I’ve recently read and shared in seminars, that 25% of all baby boomers will get divorced in retirement (Till death do us part, but that doesn’t include lunch).

Definition of Retirement –  “The disposal of a fixed asset, after it’s useful life”

Prior to WWII there was no such thing as retirement, people, mostly men would work until they couldn’t or until they died whichever came first.  When Social Security was instituted in 1935 the age to receive full benefits was set to age 65 even though life expectancy was only 62.  Now with life expectancy pushing 80 for both men and women, one wonders does retirement make sense?  Most individuals seem to think that retirement is mostly just a financial / quantitative issue, but fail to take into consideration of all the qualitative issues it entails.

WORK is not a 4 letter Word

I’m a huge fan of Solomon, who many consider the wisest man, whoever walked on the face of the earth, because God made him so.  In his autobiography which you’ll find in the bible, the book Ecclesiastes he says 5x in 12 short chapters “A man can do nothing better that to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.  This too, I see, is from the hand of God.”  With all his wealth, power and knowledge, his only true satisfaction from life came from his ongoing labor.  Having worked in the securities industry for 44 years, I’ve seen first hand that those who didn’t retire or had a specific purpose after original career path lived longer and happier that those who didn’t.

This morning I read a just released report on Working in Retirement conducted by Harris Polling, where they said that 66% of American’s between 60 and 69 are continuing or plan to continue to work, but will be cutting their work hours from 38 to 14 hours per week.  For those between 50 and 59, 86% plan to continue working approximately 20 hours per week.  When asked Why do they wish to continue working 72% responded to keep their minds sharp, 67% emphasized being bored by not workings, 59% said it was financial issues, 58% said they enjoy the social interaction at work and 46% said it was the intellectual challenge they derived from work.  As an aside, 60% said that they will stay in their current industry while the other 40% look to explore new horizons.


I believe this will be the future catch phrase for millions of Americans.  Finding a job, a position, a skill, a longing, a purpose that gets us out of bed on Monday morning with excitement and vigor.   Since the vast majority of American’s have accumulated less than $100,000 in their retirement accounts, they won’t be able to afford retirement anyway. This will also allow them the ability to save additional money, not spend what they’ve accumulated and postpone claiming Social Security.  As we’ve discussed numerous times over the past couple of years “Whatever your 62 Social Security check is, at 70 it’s DOUBLE”.

Happy Thanksgiving

We are so blessed with all we have in this great country, so please take this Holiday Season to be grateful for what we have, but more importantly who we have.  I went to a funeral Saturday for a high school friend of my son who died after a short bout with cancer at age 28.  It reminded me of a saying from one of the gentlemen in my Friday Faith Sharing study group, who says “Thank you Lord, for another day not promised”, so please live in a constant state of contentment!

May God Continue to Bless you and your works!

Dave Zander, CFP®