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Why Are Seniors Increasingly Working into Their Retirement Years? A Recent Study May Hold the Answers


For many in the Baby Boomer generation, retiring at 65 has become an unrealistic dream, and a recent study shows that there may be clear reasons for that. Take a look at how much they’ve saved, how they’ve saved it, and what they plan to do during their “retirement” years.

Fewer Seniors on Solid Financial Ground

The ideal amount to save for retirement varies and is based upon a wide range of factors. If, for example, a 67-year-old earned $75,000 and wants to maintain a similar lifestyle, a reasonable goal would be $600,000. But, a recent study of seniors showed that this is far from the reality for most of them.

In fact, more than half of respondents (58%) had less than $100,000 in the bank, and only 24% had $100,000 to $400,000. Only 9% were in a better position with between $400,000 and $700,000 in the bank; 5% had $700,000 to $1 million; and 4% had more than $1 million saved. While these numbers cover Baby Boomers of various ages, they were all born between 1946 and 1964 and, ideally, would  have had a significant retirement savings plan in place by now.

Savings Often Related to Investment Types

Of the Baby Boomers who have saved for retirement, about 25% are invested in 401(k) plans as their only retirement option; 15% have invested in just real estate; 9% have invested solely in IRAs; and 3% have invested in annuities only.

However, more seniors (45% in total) have invested in a combination of investments. In fact, the data shows that the more money a senior has saved throughout the course of their working life, the more likely it is that they have contributed via several types of investments. Of those who have saved less than $100,000, only one in four had multiple types of savings, while a96% of those who had more than $1 million in savings had multiple types of savings.

More than 90% of seniors who invested solely in real estate for their retirement have less than $100,000 put aside. Additionally, 74% of Baby Boomers who used 401(k) plans exclusively to retire have less than $100,000; 94% have less than $400,000.

Boomers Not Ready to Leave the Workforce

For many seniors, continuing to work is a result of a lack of savings and/or instability in the housing market. However, others are working because they’re simply not ready to leave the workforce. One poll of workers aged 54 to 72 found that many had decided to extend their careers or work part-time simply because they liked working. The study also found a sizable portion who had retired and later returned to work.

Half of those in the workplace who are beyond the traditional retirement age said that working made them feel valued, knowledgeable and confident. Some reported fearing that if they retired from their position and their situation later changed, companies would not be willing to hire someone well into their 60s, 70s or 80s.

Seniors Embracing the Gig Economy

A study released by AARP found that some seniors are shining in what’s now become known as the “gig economy,” in which a person works part-time, flexible hours for hire. For example, seniors are taking on jobs driving for Uber or renting out rooms in their homes through Airbnb. These jobs allow seniors to earn the money they need – while retaining total control over when and where they work.

Just how many seniors are taking advantage of these options? According to one study in 2017, people 53 years and older made up 35% of those involved in the gig economy. Those 60 and older accounted for approximately 13% of hosts on Airbnb, with about 24% of Uber drivers are older than 50.

These jobs don’t come with the traditional benefits Baby Boomers enjoyed in their pre-retirement jobs –  such as paid time off, health care or vacation time – but they do provide much-needed income in small doses. Is this the model of the future? Only time will tell, but one thing seems certain: the economy is changing for everyone.

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