Some people look at retirement as a time to stop working. I'm not one of them. Because I love what I do, and because I'm the sort of person who needs to keep busy, I don't see myself not wanting to work in some capacity.
But do I want to end up in a situation where I absolutely have to work during retirement? No. And you shouldn't, either.
Let it be a choice
There are plenty of benefits to holding down a job during retirement. First, there's the money.
The reality is that life has a way of being expensive, and during retirement, you might end up spending more than expected. Earning a modest income could help you avoid financial stress if you find that your retirement plan withdrawals and Social Security benefits fall a little short. Or the income you earn from a job can be fun money -- cash you use to pay for trips and other enjoyable experiences that might normally fall outside your budget.
Another benefit of working in retirement? Not being bored, and not having to pay to not be bored. It's hard to go from a full-time work schedule to a schedule where you're not committed to being anywhere during the day. Working could help you better structure your days.
Then there's the social aspect. Retirement can be lonely. If you're a social person, work can serve as a nice outlet.
And finally, there's your health. Studies have shown that continuing to work is a great way to stay physically fit and mentally engaged. Those are both important things.
But while there are clearly lots of perks to working in retirement, the reality is that you don't want to land in a situation where you're forced to do it. Rather, it should be a choice. And if you want that freedom, you'll need to make an effort to build yourself a solid nest egg rather than save minimally and assume you'll get by mostly on Social Security.
Set yourself up to enjoy the upside
Working in retirement is a good thing if it's something you want. If it's not, and it's something you end up having to do, it could become a source of stress, aggravation, and disappointment.
Although I would really like to continue working in retirement, I also want the flexibility to take weeks off at a time if that's what I choose. I also want the option to say no to projects that don't interest me, or to only work a handful of hours some weeks if I'd rather spend my time elsewhere.
But to get to that place, I know I need to build a nice amount of savings. And to that end, I make it a point to max out my solo 401(k) every year. I also buy stocks in a brokerage account that I'm earmarking for retirement. Tempting as it's been to cash out some gains along the way and enjoy some fun money, I've so far done a good job of leaving my portfolio alone.
If you want working in retirement to be a choice, then what you need to do is work on saving now. It's that simple. And it's a decision that could leave you much happier down the line.