The Myth of Working Until You Die
There is no doubt that I am getting crabby in my middle age, and one thing that gets my goat is when people tell me that saving is too hard, and they are just going to keep working until they die. Physically, I am giving the speaker a bland smile and nodding, but inside I’m thinking, “You should be so lucky, pal!”
Let’s get real.
It’s true, people are staying in the workforce longer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2017 that 32% of people ages 65 to 69 were working, and 19% of people ages 70 to 74 were employed. The projection for 2024 is that 36% of people ages 65 to 69 will be in the labor force, compared to 22% working in 1994.*
The reasons for this shift range are many:
- Longer life expectancies
- Better education leading to less physically laborious work
- Not enough retirement savings
- Just plain love of work
However, there are those who are forced to leave the workforce before they are ready. Ageism is alive and well, and if you don’t believe me, read this article in Forbes detailing 11 sneaky ways companies get rid of older workers.
And then there’s the unexpected.
There is also the unexpected health change that can appear at anytime during our lives. A 2014 Employee Benefit Research Institute survey found that 33% of workers expect to retire after age 65, but only 16% of retirees report staying on the job that long. The median retirement age in the survey was 62. Forty nine percent of respondents said they left the workforce earlier than planned because of health reasons.
Why do I bother telling you all this sad news?
My takeaway, as usual, is that it’s never too early or never too late to start saving! Your willingness to work until death may be there, but your body or boss may have other plans. Reduce expenses and sock money away now. Your older self will thank you!