Retirement Musings on Labor Day

I’m an independent contractor, which means many things (most importantly that I get to work from home). One of the down-sides of doing what I do for a living is that I’m not exactly given a gold watch and a retirement party when I reach 65. I’m also not contributing to a corporate matched 401K and anything I do has to be planned and carried out on my own (or with the help of a good financial planner).

So what’s my plan? Hopefully we’re money smart. My husband and I have always been on a long-term financial plan of our own doing. He works for a company with great benefits and good retirement but it’s certainly not enough to live on should we both completely stop working and attempt to live off that income alone. Nor do we see ourselves ever wanting to do so!

We’ve also tried to set ourselves up for the best possible scenario as we age. We opted for a shorter-term mortgage (by far our biggest debt), have very little consumer debt (we pay our credit card off every month), and we’re fairly frugal. By the time our children graduate from high school we’ll be totally debt free (no more mortgage) but we’ll also both be quickly approaching 50. When we talk about “retirement” neither of us talk about sitting around sipping lemonade or traveling the world. Why? I think we’d be bored out of our skulls and begin aging at the speed of light if we sat around with our thumbs, well, sat rocking on the front porch. As long as I can type and have an Internet connection, I’ll be working in some capacity. My husband has a billion hobbies and skills, any one of which I’m sure he’ll turn into a viable source of income if ever he leaves his current job. I just don’t really see us formally retiring.

I met a 70-year-old man recently with the same philosophy. He drives the shuttle bus at an airport and I’ve run into him 3 times in the past 6 years. On my most recent trip from the terminal to my car I mentioned that he’d picked me up before in the airport shuttle and asked him how long he’d been driving the van around. I learned he’d been toting passengers and their luggage for 8 years and that he loved doing it because it was always an adventure. He once saw a woman break the window out of her car when she realized she’d locked the keys in it only to discover HER car was four spaces down. And he once picked up a passenger who trolled the parking lot a half hour before realizing he was in the wrong airport and had missed his connecting flight home.

So this morning, an article over on CNN.com catches my eye and I discover that working past retirement is a reality for a much larger number of people than I first thought.

Twenty-nine percent of people in their late 60s were working in 2006, up from 18 percent in 1985, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nearly 6 million workers last year were 65 or over.

Americans Working Past Retirement

Happy Labor Day to all in the US!

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