10 Reasons to Work Part-Time in Retirement

Employment can be good for your health and your finances.

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When I announced my retirement, the reaction to my news was mixed. Some people were excited, while others were worried that I wouldn’t have enough to do, or enough money with which to do it. This was quite different from the response I received a few years later when I told those same people that I had decided to pick up a part-time consulting gig. This time, the reaction was uniformly positive, which illustrates the first of many reasons to work part-time in retirement.

[See 10 Essential Sources of Retirement Income.]

Friends can relate. So much of our lives are consumed with the 9-to-5 that removing work from the equation makes a retiree a little hard to relate to. While we retirees do still sympathize with our friends’ work challenges, we’re probably not the first person they think of when it comes to discussing them. My friends know that I get it now that I’ve dipped a toe back in the work world.

Your brain and body will be healthier. Several studies indicate that people who work after retirement live longer, and have fewer health problems than folks who shun work altogether. Working may also help stave off memory loss and dementia.

[See 6 Secrets to a Healthy Retirement.]

It will get you out of the house. Especially if you are among the first of your friends to retire, you may find yourself going whole days without seeing someone other than the one you share the house with.

You’ll be a better guest at cocktail parties. When you meet someone new, nothing stops the conversation as quickly as the admission that you are retired. Conversations flow more naturally after people gain context from what you do for a living, even if it is only part-time.

You get a second chance at job satisfaction. A 2008 study by the Families and Work Institute found that people who go back to work in retirement are more satisfied with their jobs than people that have not yet managed to retire.

You can try something new. As soon as I ditched my corporate career, I indulged my creative side and began writing. If I had to depend on writing to make a living, let’s just say I would be very hungry. If you are retired and don’t have the stress of making ends meet from your work, you can try something new without risking your financial well-being.

It will help balance your life. Most working people struggle with work-life balance issues, with the scales often tipped toward work. Retirement shifts that balance dramatically toward leisure. A part-time job is one way to strike a better balance.

[See How to Find Balance in Retirement.]

To feel connected. While you may appreciate the freedom of retirement, you may miss the connection to something bigger. Working part-time gives you a sense of being part of something without being shackled to a career.

To stop taking time for granted. As with most novelties, you may eventually take your abundance of time for granted. Working a few hours each week reminds you how valuable your time really is. There's nothing like a little scarcity to remind you to appreciate the time you do have.

You’ll earn some money. Volunteer work delivers all these benefits, but a paid job has the added benefit of lining your pockets with cash. You can indulge in a few more luxuries, or just enjoy the security of having more money in your bank account. Whatever your motivation is for working in retirement, I recommend basking in the freedom of full-time retirement for a while before making any significant commitments of your time.

Sydney Lagier is a former certified public accountant. Since retiring in 2008 at the age of 44, she has been writing about the transition from productive member of society to gal of leisure at her blog, Retirement: A Full-Time Job.