Planning on working until age 70?

Should you plan on working until age 70?  This suggestion has been surfacing in the mainstream financial media.  It is perfectly fine to work until age 70 or beyond.  It should not, however, be the age that your retirement planning is based upon.

Some people like to work.  It gives them purpose.  Work adds structure to the day.  For many people, it is their identity.  Their job is who they are.

Even if you truly enjoy your job, it is practical to have exit strategy in place.  Life happens, and changes occur on many different levels.  It is prudent to have a plan that enables you to exit the workforce sooner rather than later.

There are many reasons why a person should not set their target retirement age to 70.  Planning on working to such an advanced age is difficult because there are too many variables.  Below are some of the concerns that I have with planning on working until such an advanced age:

Financial Planning

If you set your target retirement date for your 70th birthday, it will have a negative impact on how you manage your finances.  It might even prevent you from creating a financial plan.  Savings will not be a priority.  Without an ambitious goal of retiring at a young age, the temptation to spend most of your money will win out every time.   The motivation to save a large percentage of your earnings for retirement will not be a priority while you are working.  It can easily lead to the mindset of thinking that retirement will never occur, you only live once, enjoy it while you are young, and other poor money management theories.

This mindset can easily lead to a financial disaster.  It would also be much easier to take on debt.  Spending leads to more spending.  If you must work forever, you might as well have a nice car, house, and other stuff to show for it.  You will be stressed from all that work, so two or three expensive vacations would provide just enough rest and relaxation to keep you motivated.

Health

Unless there is a major medical discovery, our time on this planet is finite.  Nothing lasts forever and that includes our ability to work.  As time goes by, we breakdown.  Everybody is different, but it happens to the best of us.  If you have a physical job like a construction worker, your ability to perform your job is shorter than if you have an office job.

Even though Office work is not physically demanding, it is not healthy.  Some say that sitting in front of a computer all day is as bad for your health as smoking.  In other words, sitting also breaks down the body from lack of exercise.  Along with our bodies, our minds are not able to manage stress and deadlines the way it did when we were young.  Our egos might not like to accept these facts, but it is just part of being human.

Family

As life goes on, our family obligations change.  Parents age and require more of our attention.  They might even require us to become their primary caregiver.

Children require attention past the age of 18.  Grandchildren are born and need to be cared for.  Daycare is expensive.  Your children might ask you to watch their children, so they can go to work and earn a living.  There are many family situations that could require a person to have to stop working much sooner that age 70.

Job Loss

What will you do if you get laid off in you 50’s, but your financial situation requires you to work until a much later age?  Recessions occur about every 10 years as part of the business-cycle.  Some companies go out of business.  Some companies survive by cutting labor expenses to remain profitable.

Unless you have a tenured position, in many cases, the first employees to get laid-off are middle managers or older employees.  Loyalty is a thing of the past.  Just because you were loyal to an employer, it does not mean that they will be loyal to you.  Just because you want to retain your position, it does not mean that they will retain you.

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination is a real issue.  Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer cannot discriminate based on age.  The protected age under Title VII is 40 and older.

Even though it is illegal to discriminate based on age, unfortunately it occurs.  I have had to coach hiring managers and executives many times about this law and practice.  They do not set out discriminate.  They just tend to see younger prospects as being more budget friendly and motivated than mature workers.

Just because you want to keep working, there is no guarantee that the type of work that you performed during the prime of your career will be available.  You might think that you can still perform at a high level.  The hard part is convincing an employer that you still can do it.

It is Not Fun Anymore

Even though you enjoy your job today, it might not always be that way.  Your assignment might change.  That great boss who supports your development takes on a new assignment and your new boss is a jerk.  The co-worker who you are friendly with gets a new position.  The demands change.  The company is bought by a competitor.  There are countless things that can occur that can turn a good job into a terrible job.

What Age Should People Plan on Retiring

It is prudent to plan on being able to retire much earlier than age 70.  I would suggest setting a goal of having the option to retire by age 55 or younger.  That does not mean that you must retire at that age.  It simply means that you have the means to step away from work if you must.  By being financially independent, you simply have more flexibility for whatever life has in store for you.

By setting a younger retirement age, you will manage your finances more wisely.  It forces you to start saving a large percentage of your earnings as soon as you enter the workforce.  It will force you to spend less and avoid wasting money on stuff that you do not need.  It will also help you to avoid consumer debt like credit cards or auto loans.  It will force you to live and spend smarter.

If work is your passion, don’t give it up.  I hope that you can work until you are able to call it quits on your terms.  Never the less, life does not always work that way.  Plan for the worst and hope for the best.  That is why planning to work until age 70 is not a good plan.

10 thoughts on “Planning on working until age 70?

  1. Church

    Great post here on keeping your goals within reach. If they are too far in the distance, some may ease up a bit and form bad habits. Aim small, miss small. Even if your goal is 55 and you don’t wind up retiring until 57, I would still considered that a success!

    All the points laid out above are clear reasons why you need to plan early and maintain focus. Who knows, you might even surprise yourself and wind up achieving your goal a few years earlier.

    Well done!

    Reply
  2. Amy @ LifeZemplified

    Agreed! I’ve heard many people say they love their jobs now and won’t want to retire until they are in their mid to late 60’s, but things change and all the sudden at 50 you might not like your job so much anymore, or it might decide it doesn’t like you. All your other points health, family, etc. are all so valid. Achieving financial independence as soon as possible gives you the ability to call your own shots, whether that’s working until your 40, 55, or 70.

    Reply
    1. Steveark

      I was one of those people who loved their job and said I’d work to age 70. However in my late 50’s the company was bought out by a larger enterprise and while I got a promotion into the serious compensation range from that and found the hectic pace fun at first, it stopped being fun totally after a couple of years. I had way more money than I needed to live our lifestyle for the rest of our lives so I walked away. But I found I still needed the creative outlet of meaningful work and replaced the grueling 55-60 hour weeks with two days of consulting a week and lots of volunteer work as well. So I’m still busy but rarely facing tough deadlines and still getting tons of social contact with my paid and unpaid side gigs. The fact that I had the money to walk away from a big paycheck without regret is one reason I’m very happy two years later.

      Reply
      1. thefinancialjourneyman Post author

        It is great that you found a career that you once loved.

        I don’t love my job, but I have a good boss and work for a good organization.

        It is nice that you found other ways to add meaningful work to your life and be creative now that you are retired.

        Thanks for sharing.

        Reply
  3. MI 27

    Solid article and conclusions. I worked until 57 and “retired” due to a layoff. I’m now following a dream of a second career as an entrepreneur and advisor to startups. I’m also spending more time to balance my life around other “non-work” activities. Fortunately, our financial plan was solid and one we stuck with throughout our working careers so being FI has allowed me the flexibility to do what I want, not what I have to do.

    Gearing down is an interesting transition when you’ve gone hard at it for 38 years but I’m starting to get used to the changes and I am grateful and blessed in many ways. I see so many others around me who have not planned well and are dealing with hardships as their layoffs have put them in a serious financial bind and jobs for those over 50 are really hard to come by. Life can be cruel but it can be well managed if you do the things you need to do to prepare. Always plan for the worst and hope for the best!

    Reply
  4. Craig

    I see a lot of two extremes going on in America, as you point out we have those that seem like that want to work forever and then on the other end of the spectrum we have those like myself who want financial independence as quickly as possible so we can earn enough passive income and do other things besides work for the rest of our lives. I wonder how this will play into our society later on down the road as we take more humans out equation for skilled trade positions with technology.

    Reply
    1. thefinancialjourneyman Post author

      Thanks for the comment.

      I think that it will work out well for those who prepare.

      I don’t know how it will work out for those who do not.

      For their sake, I hope there are still social programs in place to sustain their basic needs.

      Reply

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