Your social life. For many of us, our social lives revolve around work. We attend office parties, go out to lunch with coworkers, and meet up at networking events and conferences. Upon retirement, those work-related social functions stop. "Many people think of retirement as an abyss because they define themselves by their jobs," says Punam Anand Keller, a management professor at Dartmouth College's Tuck School of Business. "All these gifts of identity and power and money and even order and a sense of community kind of disappear." It takes more effort to meet up with friends when you're not already out for the day at the office.
Health benefits. Those who retire before age 65 have to worry about how to pay for expensive health insurance premiums and what to do if they're excluded from coverage because of a pre-existing condition. And the healthcare cost conundrum doesn't end if you wait until age 65 to retire. Spouses both age 65 in 2009 will need $210,000 to have a 50 percent chance of affording their medical needs, according to calculations by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. And that's after the couple qualifies for Medicare Part B medical insurance, Part D prescription drug coverage, and a Medigap policy. Eliminate this retirement cost by getting health insurance through an employer.
Society needs your skills. The oldest members of the population typically have the most experience and acquired wisdom. Pass your skills, Rolodex, or clients on to a younger worker in your organization, teach a class at a local school or community college, or mentor younger employees. Many older workers also want to give something back to society. "They are really yearning for something that leaves a legacy," says Marci Alboher, a senior fellow at Civic Ventures and author of One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success. "They are reorganizing their priorities and figuring out how they can have the most impact." A 2008 MetLife Foundation and Civic Ventures survey of Americans ages 44 through 70 found that over half (54 percent) are interested in or already have a second career helping others. The top late-life career choices were education, healthcare, government, and other organizations that serve a public good. The world and U.S. employers both need you.
Job perks. Money isn't the only valuable form of payment we receive from our jobs. Sometimes employees get subsidized travel, employee discounts, and even free food on a regular basis. S. C. Johnson & Son Inc. in Racine, Wis., where 26 percent of employees are age 50 or older, has a private fitness and aquatic center and a physician on staff for employee use. Pick out a part-time job that comes with perks.
Haven't saved enough. Let's face it. You probably haven't saved enough to retire. The average Fidelity-administered 401(k) plan held just $60,700 as of September 30. That's not nearly enough to pay for 20 to 30 years of retirement if you don't have other sources of income. Only 26 percent of workers age 55 and older have $250,000 or more saved for retirement, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Working a few extra years packs the double punch of giving you more time to save and reducing the number of retirement years you need to finance. Of course, deciding to delay retirement is the easy part. The challenge is finding a new job or holding on to the one you have now.