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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.