Some years back I remember hearing a fictional story of a businessman trying to convince an islander of reasons to go to work as a regular employee. The islander who was quite happy relaxing in the sun and living simply off the land did not understand reasons to do this. The businessman explained that, after many years of work and saving, the islander, now an employee, could finally retire. The islander asked what that was. The businessman further explained this was when he could finally stop work and live off the land and relax in the sun. The humorous story had a point. Decisions what to do with one’s life are highly personal and very individual. What works for one does not necessarily work for another.
So, today the question for many in the “boomer” age group and for some younger and older is whether to continue to work at jobs they have become accustomed to or retire or possibly something in between. The pandemic closed some options but also made it easier for those contemplating retirement to decide whether it should begin now or later or somewhere in between. A Forbes article suggested the trend referenced as the “Great Resignation” could really have been a massive move to retirement. See Aviva Wittenberg-Cox, “Is the Great ‘Resignation’ Actually a Mass Retirement?” One question could be “is it really necessary to chose ‘all or nothing’?” Stated alternatively, could you keep one metaphorical “foot” in the businessman’s world and one in the islanders?” In a time when it seems almost everything is being reinvented, why not?
Ms. Wittenberg-Cox noted that “The traditional retirement is a move from 100% employed to 100% retired. Overnight.” She suggested as an alternative that employers could “lex the model and offer employees a range of flexible employment options that can taper over time…” The benefit to employers to retaining experienced workers in some capacity is obvious. Losing an entire work force and training new employees takes time and effort. As to employees who have expertise and experience, I have seen many return as consultants or assuming control in a related field that keeps them involved and stimulated but not overwhelmed. The other benefit to keeping one foot in is to deal with financial uncertainties than the “100% retired” model might not address. Obviously there are huge differences for individuals and for couples regarding retirement with some retirees comfortably fixed and others not so much.
So what do you do? You make reasonable assumptions and build them into your plan. If conditions change, you change the assumptions. We work on this with clients. It is the new way.
Esquire, Colliton Law Associates, P.C. Janet Colliton has practiced law for over 38 years, 37 of them in Chester County, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. Her practice, Colliton Law Associates, PC, is limited to elder law, Medicaid, including advice, applications and appeals, and other benefits planning including Veterans benefits, life care and special needs planning, guardianships, retirement, and estate planning and administration.