Retirement 2.0

Maybe it really is time to seriously rethink the meaning of retirement. A pair of studies point to a lifestyle for future retirees that feature few of the hallmarks – full-time relaxation, travel, and puttering around – associated with traditional retirement.

More and more, people are remaining in the workplace, either out of financial need or to stay engaged.

For instance, an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study, “Working Longer—Older Americans’ Attitudes on Work and Retirement,”  spotted an attitude shift among American about work, aging, and retirement.

For one,  82 percent of survey respondents over age 50 who are still working say it’s likely or very likely that they’ll do some work for pay during retirement.

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), too, has watched people’s expectations about retirement age tick up.

In 1991, just 11 percent of workers expected to retire after age 65. Now, in 2014, 33 percent of workers report that they expect to retire after age 65, and 10 percent don’t plan to retire at all.

In addition, the percentage of workers expecting to retire before age 65 has decreased, from 50 percent in 1991 to 27 percent. Those are findings from EBRI’s 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey.

Some of the attitude shift has to do with expectation of living longer, healthier lives.

The NORC study, for instance, found that Americans, who have reached or are nearing the traditional retirement age, don’t consider themselves old. Six in 10 say the feel younger than their age, for instance.  Of those who are currently working, 47 percent now plan to retire at a later age than they expected when they were 40.

But – no surprise here – money concerns play a role too. EBRI found a shortfall in retirement savings among respondents.

In fact, some numbers are dire, with 36 percent of respondents reporting that they have less than $1,000 saved for retirement. That’s up from 28 percent in 2013.

As a result, workers are adjusting retirement expectations, with 82 percent reporting that their expected retirement age has increased.

Reasons for the delay:

  • The poor economy (25 percent).
  • Inadequate finances or can’t afford to retire (18 percent).
  • A change in employment situation (17 percent).
  • Needing to pay for health care costs (12 percent).
  • Lack of faith in Social Security or government (9 percent).
  • Higher-than-expected cost of living (9 percent).
  • Wanting to make sure they have enough money to retire comfortably (8 percent).

EBRI also found that those who already are retired and are working do it for several reasons. Some enjoy working (83 percent) and want to stay active and involved (79 percent).  But finances also figure into the decision.

More than half (54 percent) want to be able to afford extras and 52 percent need money to make ends meet. Others (38 percent) have seen a decrease in the value of their savings or investments and 34 percent want to maintain health insurance or other benefits (34 percent).

If you’re among those who are rethinking retirement, the studies offer additional in-depth information about shifting expectations, financial challenges, navigating the job market, and health care costs during retirement.

For more, see EBRI’s complete study at http://www.ebri.org/pdf/surveys/rcs/2014/EBRI_IB_397_Mar14.RCS.pdf and the NORC study at http://www.apnorc.org/PDFs/Working%20Longer/AP-NORC%20Center_Working%20Longer%20Report-FINAL.pdf.