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Cash up front

Money may not be the only reason for many Americans choosing to work into their 60s and 70s, but it’s still an important factor. Retirees want to feel confident about the amount of cash they have socked away for their next 20 or 30 years — and sometimes getting there simply means working longer.

Two-thirds of the Fidelity respondents who are delaying retirement have found themselves in just that situation. They need to continue earning money to pay their bills — even though they’ve technically retired.

The 3.2% increase for this year’s Social Security won’t be enough for many older adults to keep up with the cost of living, as that’s an issue that’s clearly top of mind for respondents — two of the top five concerns Fidelity respondents pointed to were inflation and health care needs.

The new retirement takes the current economy into account — and it’s a far cry from the conditions of 20 years ago, when many current retirees were starting to seriously plan for their later years (which are now here).

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In search of the good life

Money is certainly top-of-mind for many when working post-retirement. But 68% of Fidelity respondents want to pursue work in retirement — for pleasure.

Robert Laura, the founder of the Retirement Coaches Association, told Moneywise that he sees many of his clients lose their way after retirement. They’re used to going to work every day and having a purpose. When they completely stop their jobs of 30 years, it can be quite jarring for them.

“Most people waffle around for a year or two before they figure it out and end up going back to work,” Laura told Moneywise in an interview in November. “They're going to get to these traditional retirement ages and they're realizing the gas tank’s not empty.”

“Phased retirement” or “intermittent working” are becoming more common. They both refer to working part-time or seasonally after you retire, rather than taking a total stop to working.

A 101-year-old Ohio woman, Jayne Burns, did this. Burns tried to retire as a bookkeeper a few times, but missed socializing with her co-workers. To stave off the loneliness, she started working at a nearby craft store.

Not only does she earn a few extra dollars at the craft store, but she’s befriended her coworkers and customers — and even gone viral on TikTok.

The younger generation agrees

Young people, it turns out, are very much in favor of this new retirement plan that includes working. Nearly two-thirds of the younger generations prefer a phased retirement.

With the rise of remote work during the pandemic, millennials and Gen Z realize that they don’t have to wait to travel or pursue their passions in retirement. They can do that while working, thanks to the flexibility of remote work.

And so the younger generation mixes work with life, instead of separating the two. Suddenly, retirement isn’t their one and only time to do things, such as travel or golf.

Meanwhile, boomers don’t seem to be in a rush to retire. The survey says that they have also taken to the new retirement. Boomers are “feeling it out” and will retire when they’re ready — not when they’re told to.

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Sabina Wex is a writer and podcast producer in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Business Insider, Fast Company, CBC and more.

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