Retirement may seem untenable with inflation soaring and gas prices skyrocketing, but for some older adults, hanging on to their job can cause more harm than good. Sure, you still have money coming in, but at what price to your mental or physical health?
“In this economy, people are starting to worry that they don’t have a plan,” says Riley Rindo, senior wealth adviser and director at MAI Capital Management. “They are panicking and tending to hang on when they can retire and be perfectly fine.”
The thought of retirement can be scary, especially when it can easily last 20-plus years. Staying employed for as long as possible keeps you socially connected and the cash flowing. Still, sometimes retirement is the better option, especially if any of these signs ring true.
1. You’re disinterested in the job
Work should give you a sense of purpose in addition to a paycheck, but for many people who have been there and done that for decades, it’s lost its luster. If going into the office or logging on for the day conjures up feelings of dread instead of joy, it may be a sign your job has run its course.
That’s particularly true if it’s hard to get motivated at work or if you’ve become resentful of daily tasks. “If you are 60 or 62, a bad day at work can turn into your last day or work,” says Rindo. “Just being motivated because you think you have to work isn’t very productive.”
2. Your health is suffering
Most people have plans for their golden years, whether it’s traveling the world, moving closer to the grandkids, kicking back at home or starting a second career. Those dreams cost money, but they also require decent health. If your health is suffering and you can afford to retire, now may be the time to make the leap. Why wait until you can’t enjoy the things you worked hard to save for?
“Some people feel like they used up precious remaining years, especially if they have chronic conditions or a health shock they weren’t counting on,” says Matthew Rutledge, an economics professor at Boston College and a research fellow at BC’s Center for Retirement Research.
3. You’re burned out
Whether your job is physically taxing or requires a lot of brainpower, feeling burned out is a big reason older adults make the retirement leap. Working too much can cause stress, which can lead to all sorts of health issues, including an increased risk of hypertension, heart attack and stroke. A recent study published in PNAS, a scientific journal, found stress can speed up the natural aging process of the immune system in people of advanced age, increasing the risk of cancer, heart disease and infectious illnesses such as COVID-19.
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4. You’ve saved enough for retirement
Every penny counts, but sometimes you may have enough pennies to comfortably exit the workforce but are afraid to make the leap. Sure, inflation is at a record high of 9.1 percent over the past year and yes, gas prices are still soaring, but if you have enough cash in the bank to live comfortably in retirement, hanging on may be counterintuitive. You don’t want your money to outlive you.
5. Technology is causing you stress
Technology plays a leading role in how we work these days. Even if we are back in the office, meetings are still conducted via videoconferencing and chat apps. Answers are expected in real time, and always on is becoming the norm.
For older adults not used to technology, it can be overwhelming and stress inducing. Also a reason to retire. “Remote work will keep some in the workforce and drive others out,” says Rutledge.
6. You have no debt
Having no debt nearing your retirement age is an enviable position to be in. It’s also a reason some people choose to finally retire. They don’t have to worry about a mortgage payment, credit card debt or other recurring bills eating away at their cash flow. They’ve achieved peace of mind, so they take the plunge into retirement.
7. You want to pursue a second act
Continuing to work has a lot of benefits, but that doesn’t mean it has to be in your current career. Plenty of people are retiring to pursue second acts, whether that means a new vocation, part-time work, volunteering or business ownership. Moreover, they want to use the money they’ve amassed to travel, pursue hobbies and otherwise fulfill their dreams.
“While working longer is a good solution for people financially, it comes with a trade-off,” says Rutledge. “It takes away some of the fun they deserve.”
Donna Fuscaldo is a contributing writer and editor focusing on personal finance and health. She has spent over two decades writing and covering news for several national outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investopedia and HerMoney.