Don’t Plan to Work in Retirement Unless You Have To

Filed in Living by on June 26, 2014 2 Comments

working in retirementSome people will have no choice but to work in their later years for financial reasons. They either don’t have a pension or haven’t saved enough. This is understandable.

However, I have often heard people who are well-prepared financially for retirement say they plan to find a part-time job after they retire. The reasoning is that it might allow them to retire a little sooner, and, what the heck, it might also be kind of fun!

I think this is misguided for most people—there is a better way.

Rather than planning to work after you retire to generate additional income, the better approach is to stay in your career a couple of years longer and then fully retire when you are financially ready. You can earn money a lot faster and easier in your current job than you will in any post-retirement job. And a part-time job is not what it’s cracked up to be—volunteering and other hobbies are much more flexible and fun.

Here are the 10 disadvantages of having a part-time job, compared to volunteering or just doing something (anything) else in retirement. I will contrast having a job with volunteering, but the advantages of volunteering also apply to spending your time engaged in hobbies and other interests.

  1. Your boss will give you a work schedule, and the days and hours you work will not be the ones you ideally would want. Also, if you work in retail, which is where most part-time jobs exist, you will often be expected to work nights and weekends, which sucks. Most people would much rather relax at night, watching TV or reading, and enjoy social activities on the weekend. Volunteering can often be scheduled to meet the exact hours you desire, which for most retired people are sometime Monday – Friday between 9AM and 5PM.
  2. Your work schedule will not likely be flexible. However, as a volunteer you can easily change your schedule when interesting opportunities arise. Let’s say you are currently volunteering on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then decide you want to take tennis lessons that are being given on Mondays. You will likely be able to change your volunteering from Mondays to another day of the week. The boss at your part-time job will not be so flexible, likely admonishing you, “We have a business to run!”
  3. You cannot easily miss a day of work for important or fun activities that arise. If you have a job and you have a doctor’s appointment or social engagement (party!) that conflicts with your work schedule, it is often difficult or impossible to call off. Volunteering is much more accommodating of situations like this. They are just glad to have you whenever you are available.
  4. If you are scheduled to work and you are sick or tired that day, you will likely need to drag yourself into work. If you volunteer, a quick call will keep you at home, resting and recovering.
  5. Vacations must be scheduled around your employer’s needs and your boss’ whims. If you volunteer, all you need to do is provide a week or two’s notice and you can be off for as long as you desire, with no repercussions. You can even go to Florida or Arizona for the winter, and your volunteer organization will happily take you back when you return. (Good luck begging for your job back from your boss after being gone for five months, showing up in May with your deep tan and broad grin.)
  6. Did I mention you will have a boss? Yes, and who wants one of those!
  7. Bosses give performance reviews. You don’t want these either!
  8. The work positions available to you in your local area will likely be quite limited and you will be competing with others for these jobs. Since volunteering is free help, they will virtually always take you, in almost any position or capacity you desire. There is a wide range of volunteering positions available in most communities. You can choose the type of work you want to do, and ensure that your fellow volunteers are enjoyable to work with. If the volunteer job or co-workers are not enjoyable for any reason, you can just move on to a different position or organization.
  9. Part-time jobs usually require you to keep the same position for years at a time, which can become monotonous. If you volunteer, you can move around the organization and try all sorts of different positions, especially in large organizations like hospitals. Hop scotch around to your heart’s desire!
  10. When you work for pay, you have a responsibility to work hard all or most of the time. Since volunteer positions are unpaid, you will feel much less guilty if you work a little less hard when you don’t feel up to it, or if you take some time out of your day to relax a bit and be sociable. Why torture yourself in retirement with the strict demands of a job, when you can goof around volunteering?

So, if you are still working and you dream about that great part-time job at the mall or some other local business, realize that work is still work, and it’s pretty nice not having to deal with it!

About the Author ()

TIM MCINTYRE retired in 2004 from his position as president of Applied Systems after facilitating a successful sale of the company. At only forty-six years old, he made the unusual decision to fully retire to pursue other interests and simply enjoy free time. As a hard-driving Type A personality, this turned out to be a significant challenge for the Notre Dame and University of Chicago-educated MBA, CPA, and Certified Cash Manager.

Comments (2)

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  1. Allan says:

    This truly enlightened me as to what to do after I retire early ! Your book was just awesome . As I read it I was telling my wife this is Me exactly
    Lol

    • Tim McIntyre says:

      Hey Allan, I’m glad you liked the book. We Type As have to stick together! Sign up for my website on the right hand side of the home page and you’ll get a weekly email with my post. Take care.

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