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75% of Americans Think They'll Work in Retirement -- but Only 26% Do at Present

By Maurie Backman – May 16, 2019 at 9:36AM

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Working in retirement is a great idea, but there's no guarantee you'll manage to do it. However, if you take the right steps during your career, you can buy yourself the option to work later in life.

The thought of retiring can be financially stressful. With so many money-related unknowns, the idea of moving over to a fixed income doesn't sit well with many workers, and understandably so.

Now when you think about the various income streams that may be available to you in retirement, it's natural to focus on sources like Social Security and personal retirement savings. But there is something you can do to boost your income in retirement, and perhaps alleviate some financial concerns in the process: work in some capacity.

Older man in collared shirt and jacket taking notes while typing on laptop


It's a notion that most working Americans are on board with, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. A good 75% of U.S. adults say they're planning to work in retirement -- yet only 26% of current retirees generate income from a job. To some extent, that might boil down to health or mobility issues preventing seniors from working, but it's also likely a matter of absent opportunity. If you want to increase your chances of being able to work during your golden years, here are a few moves you should make during your career.

1. Keep your skills current

The career you excel at during your working years can be the same career you do well at in retirement, albeit on a smaller scale. That's why it's crucial to keep boosting your work skills as you age. Staying current will put you in a strong position to consult in your former field once your full-time career comes to an end.

2. Start a side business

Starting a side business while you're still working full-time will benefit you in a couple of ways. First, you'll have the option to use your earnings to pad your IRA or 401(k), thereby boosting your retirement income. Secondly, once you establish yourself in that gig and, ideally, build up a client base, it'll be a smooth transition to carry that work into retirement and start generating income immediately.

What sort of side business should you embark on? It really depends on the things you enjoy doing or are passionate about, so think about the hobbies you have that can easily be monetized, and start building a name for yourself.

3. Network aggressively

The wider a business network you build, the easier a time you'll have finding work in retirement. That's why it pays to focus on expanding your contact list and staying in touch with the people you already know. If you decide to start a business in retirement, you'll have a host of connections who can help promote your services, or perhaps even hire you themselves. Therefore, don't be shy about attending business conferences and seminars, or even looking into local meetups for entrepreneurs that are more social in nature. You never know what opportunities they might lead to.

The more money you're able to earn from a job in retirement, the more comfortable a lifestyle you'll manage to lead. Furthermore, if you're approaching retirement with limited savings, it's critical that you find a way to supplement your Social Security income. Those benefits will only replace about 40% of your pre-retirement wages if you're an average earner, and most seniors need roughly double that amount to live comfortably. But if you're able to earn the equivalent of your monthly Social Security benefit by hustling at a part-time gig, you'll effectively double your income.

Another thing you should know about working in retirement is that it's a great way to occupy your newfound free time on the cheap. And that's why it pays to take the above steps during the latter part of your working years. If you set yourself up to be able to work part-time in retirement, you stand to benefit on more than one level.

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