One-Third of Retirees Consider Working Again. Should You?


What do you think of when you hear the word “retirement”? Is it packing up your desk at work and settling into a cushy non-routine of fun vacations, dining out, and pursuing your hobbies — without ever reporting to a boss again? A lot of American retirees have a different picture of their retirement years.

According to data aggregated by Clever Real Estate, 32% of retirees have considered rejoining the workforce. Let’s take a closer look at why they think this is a good idea — and why you should, too.

You can improve your finances

OK, this reason is perhaps the most obvious one to explain why you might want to get a job as a retiree, but it’s still worth digging into here. A lot of people hope to travel and have fun in retirement, especially if they didn’t have the time or money to do so during their working years. In fact, you may have spent those decades putting money into a 401(k) or IRA to make it possible.

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But if you don’t have a huge amount of retirement savings in your brokerage account and are instead leaving the workforce with only enough funds to cover the bills and maybe a little more, you might have to give up those dreams. Having regular cash from a part-time job landing in your checking account can help, though — you could save money to travel, as well as cover some of your regular bills and leave more of your retirement savings intact for longer.

You can keep your mind sharp

I don’t know about you, but the prospect of experiencing cognitive decline as I age scares me. I strongly value learning new information and broadening my intellectual horizons, so I spend a lot of time reading, I do the New York Times crossword every day, and I treasure the opportunities I get to research and write about new personal finance topics here at The Ascent.

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Continuing to work, even part-time, as a retiree is a good strategy in two different ways. Harvard Health Publishing notes that two ways to protect against cognitive decline include mental stimulation and maintaining social contacts. If you’re working, you’ll be stimulating your mind as well as likely talking to others (like colleagues or customers, if you have a public-facing job). Plus, you can stave off another chronic problem among older folks — loneliness.

You can pursue gigs you enjoy

If you didn’t love your job before you retired, you might be actively repulsed by the prospect of going back to work as a retiree. But there’s nothing saying that a retirement gig has to have anything to do with what you did for a career! Now might be a great time to apply for jobs doing something you love, but that never would have paid enough to cover your bills when you had more of them (and no retirement accounts to draw on). This is especially true if you’re just looking for something to do part-time to supplement retirement savings.

I spent more than a decade as a museum professional, and I worked with many amazing older people who retired from other careers as lawyers, farmers, occupational therapists, and more, and then came to work with me. Some of them were volunteers, but others were working for a paycheck — regardless of their situation, they loved the work. Giving museum tours to kids on school field trips, working in a gift shop, or building exhibits is often fun, after all.

It might be better to think of your retirement years less as the end of work altogether, and more as your chance to change careers. As you can see, working during your golden years comes with a lot of benefits — both for your finances and your well-being.

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