Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is Retirement a Dirty Word?

Many folks today say they will work until they are dead - or until it is physically impossible to work anymore.  Is this a realistic option - or a desirable one?

A lot of ink has been spilled on the death of traditional retirement.  And retirement will change, over time, I think, and for the better.  But the idea of NEVER RETIRING and viewing retirement as a bad thing is, I think, just selling yourself a raw deal.

I don't want to work forever for the simple reason that working sucks and it is hard, and I don't like to do it.  And as I get older, worrying about work sucks even more.  I might take a part-time job or something, but I doubt I want to be writing Patents well into my 70's and 80's.  It would just be a malpractice nightmare.

And I have seen older attorneys try to "Keep their hand in" by practicing part-time.  What ends up happening is that they mess something up, they get sued, and they end up having to retire, anyway.

Think about it.  Do you want to go to an 85-year-old Doctor who isn't up on the latest treatments, or has started to forget where he puts things (like those forceps he left inside you?).  Heck no.  There does reach a point where you have to pack it in and find something else to do with your life.

Retirement is not a Dirty Word.  It is okay to quit work, and in fact, we all should do it, eventually.  This is not to say that you might never work again, but that you might work part time, perhaps in a different field, or perhaps work only part of the year.  But to keep working a 40-hour workweek, to have a "job" at age 75, could be problematic.

Of course, one reason a lot of people say they will "work forever" is that they have no choice - they have saved little to nothing and they have made poor retirement plans.  Their retirement options are limited and perpetual employment seems like the answer.

Good answer, if they let you.   That is the other half of the problem.  For many folks, retirement is mandatory (for example, for airline pilots) and for others, it is thrust upon them.  More and more companies are dumping people in their 50's and 60's before a standard retirement age.  Or people are offered "buyouts" and strongly urged to take them (take it, or we dump you).

So "working forever" might not be in the cards anyway, unless you want that second career in retail or the service sector (it ain't so bad, but the pay sucks).

Myself, I PLAN on retiring, but have no fixed plans on WHEN to do so.  I hope to sort of phase out of my practice, over time, and do less and less work.  So far, that plan is working out better than I expected, thanks to the recession!

But at age 65, I should have enough money to live without working.  And that should be everyone's goal  - as you might not have a choice at that age.