Ask someone to list their top three financial goals, and chances are retirement is among them. After all, what could be better than getting up in the morning with a free day ahead of you?
Actually, it turns out that having nothing to do can get pretty boring. An increasing number of surveys, articles, and books highlights a surprising trend: People of retirement age are choosing not to retire.
Last night's 60 Minutes profiled several workers who are well into their golden years, including an 83-year-old machinist, a 97-year-old quarry worker, and a 102-year-old scientist. None needed the money; they needed something to do. Some tried retirement but couldn't stand it. One fellow didn't last 30 days. His wife's response to him going back to work: "Good -- you'll get out of my hair."
The show also pointed out that senior citizens who work stay healthier -- mentally and physically. (What do seniors do if they don't work? Here's a clue: Retirees watch an average of 43 hours of television a week.) But working isn't only good for seniors. Employers save money on health insurance since most workers age 65 and up are on Medicare. Plus, older workers tend to be more dependable.
However, this doesn't mean you can stop contributing to your 401(k). Having a bulging nest egg gives you options. You want a career beyond your 60s to be an option, not a necessity. You can retire or just work part-time. Or perhaps you'll want to keep busy doing volunteer work.
Consider what you'll want to do in retirement and factor that into your plans. Managing your money means arranging priorities. If you couldn't imagine spending your last couple of decades in full retirement, then perhaps you can cut back on your IRA contributions to save more for your kids' education or contribute more to world-changing causes.