Rethinking Retirement

According to Businessweek, the Age of Retirement is “over.” The magazine summed up its stark “vision” of our later years in four words: “Forget retirement. Keep working.”

For many older workers there is simply no other choice than to continue working in their later years. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), half of today’s workers ages 55 or older have less than $50,000 saved for retirement.

I realize that the prospect of continuing to work in our late 60s, 70s, and beyond may not sound like great news.  However, maybe it’s time that we rethought our assumptions about retirement.  The longer, healthier lives we’re living means we have more time to put our passions and talents to use, and that’s when we’re most fulfilled.

Just as I’ve long thought we should toss out the word “consumer,” let’s throw the word “retirement” onto the same pile of unhelpful words and replace it with “later years.”  We’ll still need a solid investment plan to guide us into that era. But we’ll also need to spend much more time than is now the norm creating a vision for our later years – one that involves doing something that makes good use of our skills and passions, makes a difference for others, and enables us to make some money.

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3 Responses to Rethinking Retirement

  1. Matt Bell December 3, 2009 at 1:50 PM #

    Jan – I like the idea of “ending well” and spending some extra time with family sure sounds like an important part of that!

    Brad – Fully agree with your point about retirement being a cultural concept. Just heard some great teaching this morning on the life of Caleb — one of many biblical examples of someone who never “retired.”

  2. Jan Parks December 3, 2009 at 12:34 PM #

    My husband & I are in ministry, so we’re planning to work as long as anybody will pay us to do something & keep going after that as long as we can totter around. Ending well is our goal rather than taking it easy. Having said that, it would also be nice to have extra time with grandchildren!

  3. Brad Brestel November 24, 2009 at 5:15 PM #

    my financial planner friends tell me they are telling people to work at least until 70 (or longer) making money and representing Jesus in the marketplace, then try to find meaningful activity to build God’s kingdom after that and live on their savings. Retirement is a culteral concept, not a biblical one. Good thoughts Matt!

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