People spend a lot of time wondering if they’ll have the means to retire, often ignoring the equally important calculation: Do they have the will to retire? A job, historically seen as simply a way to make money, is increasingly the source of the types of friendship and stimulation that are hard to find in bingo halls, on beaches or riding a golf cart.
A 2018 Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies survey found half of 6,372 workers polled don’t expect to retire at 65, and 13% plan never to retire. America’s average retirement age has increased in the past 25 years to 66 or older. Much of this sentiment is due to the barrage of headlines about rising health-care costs and Social Security shortfalls.
With U.S. birthrates falling and membership in religious institutions at all-time lows, work is addressing a void once filled by children, churches or community organizations. Overall, people are working more—a half-hour longer every weekday versus 12 years ago—and spending less time socializing, attending community events or participating in sports and exercise, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
For those wanting to keep working it is easier than in the past to remain sharp and productive. Developments in semiautonomous vehicle technology will make commuting safer; automated processes can reduce physical or mental demands, and an abundance of retraining efforts give more opportunities to revive or learn new skills.
Meanwhile, my financial planner (Mitch Rezman ) and I revisited the question of retirement. I’ve agreed to fund my 401(k) at a pace where I can quit in about 25 years—not so I can stop working but so that I have options. I will retire at 101.