Can You Work Until You Die? (Hopefully, a Reality Check for Some)

by RJ

in Random

Something has really been bothering me.

I have heard many young adults say something along the lines of, “Retirement sounds so boring. I love my work. I don’t ever want to retire. I will work to the day I die.  I have no need to save for retirement.”

I don’t know where this idea first came from. My guess is some clever marketers wanting you to spend your money now. But there are some major flaws in this line of thinking.

# 1 – It’s Lazy

Since when did saving for retirement, mean giving up a fulfilling life today? If reducing your expenses by 10% and putting that money away in savings reduces the quality of your life, you have bigger problems.

To me, the idea that you’re never going to retire is really just being lazy. An excuse to go another month without some critical thinking about your finances.

# 2 – Your Brain and Body Begin to Fail

I’m not an expert in the aging process, but here’s what I have noticed from watching reality unfold. Once you get older, the ability for your brain and body to function decrease.

How many people do you know that are still working in their 80’s or 90’s? Even those that loved their careers, still have a hard enough time having the energy to create.

# 3 – What Happens when you Priorities Change?

When I was younger, my goal was to play in the N.B.A.

Now that I’m in my 20’s, my priorities have changed (along with the fact that I can’t jump) to building a business. I have the energy and don’t mind working twelve hour days.

I imagine once I get older, my priorities will change again. Maybe instead of building a business, I will be interested in traveling the world or donating my time.

I don’t know what I want my life to be like in 40 years. I do know that a lot will change over that time span. If I don’t save now, I restrict my later years to working, even if that’s not what I necessarily want to do.

End of rant…

If you disagree, let me know in the comments.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Briana FordNo Gravatar December 13, 2010 at 1:38 pm

I don’t disagree; I think there’s still a form of “mental retirement” where yeah, you can still work, but not for 8-12 hours. Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean stop working, but you’re not going to be full time. I don’t necessarily think it’s LAZY but I do think it’s a tad unrealistic.

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EvanNo Gravatar December 14, 2010 at 8:00 pm

I think it is an age thing…29 here and I couldn’t imagine not working!

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RandyNo Gravatar December 15, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I’m past my 20′s (more than twice) and I’m looking forward to retirement. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop working. I currently enjoy my job, but that could change. And when it does, I want to do something else, but it probably won’t earn me as much money.

So to me, retirement is really starting my second “career”. Maybe wood work, maybe financial coaching for the many who live paycheck to paycheck. Maybe teaching.

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RJNo Gravatar December 16, 2010 at 8:27 am

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Looking back, I would have liked to make it clear that it’s OK wanting to work your entire life. Just realize that it might not be possible for a number of different reasons. Therefore, just because you plan to never retire now, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be putting money away when you’re older.

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Kay Lynn AkersNo Gravatar December 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm

I think it’s unrealistic to think you can work until you die. I’ve seen many older relatives struggle with health issues that precluded employment for years before their deaths.

Not planning for retirement is just laziness.

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Financial SamuraiNo Gravatar December 18, 2010 at 8:22 am

Give yourself 10 years in the work force, then ask yourself how much longer you are willing to work. It gets less and less over time.

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NickNo Gravatar February 28, 2012 at 6:56 am

I disagree with this article outright. I enjoy working, and while I may not work ‘until the day I die’, I plan on working well into my 70s as long as I am physically able. I’m still putting away money into my 401k, and so forth. I probably have more in there than most my age. But the thought of sitting around doing nothing all day is dreadful. I suppose my priorities could change when I get older. But I doubt it.

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