Retirement – Vocation, Vacation or A bit of both?

You’ve heard it said: “idle hands make for idle minds.” The idea of an absolutely “work free” retirement may appeal to some, especially if you are passionate about a particular hobby or sport, but others may well find that an “endless vacation” loses its charm after some months or years. Don’t underestimate the benefits of continuing to work through your retirement. Continued employment keeps the mind engaged, provides a sense of personal identity, can aid in physical & mental fitness and, of course, can contribute positively to your finances.

Since I work primarily with self-employed individuals I hear first-hand just how many clients would actually prefer their retirement to include some form of meaningful part-time employment. For most, this work ought to be stimulating, engaging, productive and affirming with or without financial rewards.

What would you want in retirement? How do you determine what you prefer? What are some options?

Explore what would inspire you with colleagues, friends and family. This conversation can be with a group of similarly motivated and stimulating colleagues (or friends/friends) and help identify your ideal retirement. You might also examine your “motivators,” both existential and economic. Are you someone that thrives on intellectual stimulation, competition, growth and learning, is your identity tightly linked to the work you do? These are “motivators” for finding a vocation in retirement. On the other hand, do you work solely for economic reasons, are you primarily concerned with the rising cost of living, maintaining a given lifestyle, managing debt, or leaving more to your heirs? Vocation may be right for you if you are motivated by existential rather than economic reasons.

You can also use existing social entrepreneurship organizations (such as that tap the altruistic resources of retired individuals. Even providing grants for mature adults to develop their ideas while connecting participants with others that share a similar calling.

You might consider that according to AARP nearly 90% of those over age 65 want to remain in their residence throughout retirement. Providing aging-in-place support to elderly in all facets, including bookkeeping, gardening, tutoring, transportation for outings and errands are all viable opportunities. Balance: This is your retirement. Find the combination that best suits you – be it as a vocation, a vacation or a bit of both.

There are unique considerations to working after your formal retirement. To make the most of your in-retirement earnings, you should work carefully with a financial advisor so that social security and taxes can be properly coordinated.

Edi Alvarez, CFP®