My friend John recently turned 70.
He works part-time as a bagger at the Kroger about a mile from my house.
Now, before you draw conclusions, John has plenty of cash in the bank. He had a successful career as an accountant and is financially secure. He retired a few years ago to get away from the rat race and spend a little more time with his family.
But several days per week, he drives up to Kroger to put in a few hours.
It very well might have saved his life. Literally.
Time to Retire? Don’t
Men who retire are often not long for this world.
A 2017 paper by Cornell professor Maria Fitzpatrick and University of Melbourne professor Timothy Moore found an odd surge of men dying at age 62, which happens to correspond to the age at which we’re eligible for early Social Security benefits. Overall life expectancy in the United States is close to 80 … so it’s curious that so many men die early in retirement, so much sooner than the averages suggest. This phenomenon is also limited to men. Women had no such sudden spike in deaths.
I have a few theories as to why.
While we men like to pretend we’re independent, we’re not. We’re social animals that need to be around other people. We spend the vast majority of our daylight hours in a workplace “doing something.” When that disappears, we feel simultaneously lonely and useless.
So, a piece of advice to the gentlemen out there: Don’t retire.
Part-Time Work Is a Lifesaver
You don’t need to work yourself to death, and you have to be realistic. At age 70, you probably can’t handle the stress and workload you could handle at 40. Why would you want to? You paid your dues, and you deserve to relax a little.
Just don’t quit cold turkey. When you feel it’s time to step away, see if you can reduce your hours or work part-time as a consultant. That keeps you in the mix and allows you to transition into the next stage of your life. Or, you can do what John did. Go get an easy, low-responsibility job that you might have worked in high school. It gets you around people, and it’s better than sitting on the couch and watching daytime TV.
But there’s a financial angle to work in retirement as well.
Work in Retirement Pads Your Nest Egg
Once you retire, your paycheck stops. At that point, you’re living off your investments. If you have millions socked away, your house is paid off, and you live fairly modestly, that might not be a problem. But for many (if not most) Americans, the margin of error is tight. One investment mishap or one large unexpected expense could make the difference between having to move in with their kids or not.
Having a part-time job — even one that pays close to minimum wage — could easily add $1,000 per month or more to your income. That’s not champagne and caviar money, but it’s a $1,000 you’re not pulling out of your investment accounts, which makes it a $1,000 that can grow and compound a little longer. That modest amount of money might make the difference between having to worry about money and being able to relax in retirement.
If nothing else, working in retirement keeps you out of trouble and gives you a little beer money.
So to all you boomer men out there in or considering retirement … get a job, hippie!
To safe profits,
Editor, Green Zone Fortunes
Charles Sizemore is the editor of Green Zone Fortunes and specializes in income and retirement topics. Charles is a regular on The Bull & The Bear podcast. He is also a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business.