Some people extend their careers well past their mid-60s because they enjoy what they do and going into the office serves as a much-wanted social outlet. But many seniors work into their late 60s and beyond, not because they want to, but because they have to.

New data from senior living community Provision Living further explains this trend. In a survey of seniors aged 65 and older who still hold down a job, 62% continue to work for financial reasons, the most common of which is not being able to afford retirement. And when we look at the average retirement savings balance among seniors who are still working -- a mere $133,108 -- it's easy to see why.

Older man at computer typing on keyboard.


Though $133,108 may seem like a decent chunk of money, when we apply an annual 4% withdrawal rate -- a rate financial experts have long recommended -- we get just $5,324 in yearly income. Meanwhile, the average monthly Social Security benefit today is $1,471. That amounts to just $17,652 a year.

Add in $5,324, and we get a total annual income of just under $23,000. That's not a whole lot to live on, especially when we consider that among other expenses, seniors also bear the burden of rising healthcare costs.

The fact that many seniors are pushing themselves to work longer, therefore, makes sense. But unfortunately, many aren't happy about it. In fact, 47% of those still working say they wish they were already retired, while 20% acknowledge that they'd like to continue working, but with fewer hours.

If you want to avoid a scenario where you're forced to extend your career longer than you'd like, the solution is simple: Start building retirement savings at an early age. Otherwise, you'll risk having to hold down a job at a time in your life when you'd rather reclaim your days.

Start saving early, enjoy life later

It's hard to prioritize retirement savings when you have other pressing expenses to contend with and when that milestone is so far away. But if you don't start building a nest egg early on, you may land in a situation where you're forced to keep working in order to catch up or preserve what little savings you have.

On the other hand, if you start building your nest egg as soon as you start working or shortly thereafter, you can amass a substantial amount of wealth without having to extend your career or even compromise too heavily during your savings period. Check out the following table, which shows what a monthly savings contribution of $300 can do for you over time:

Start Saving $300 a Month at Age:

You'll Have This Much by Age 67
(Assumes a 7% Average Annual Return):


$1.03 million










The reason you'll accumulate so much wealth by saving a mere $300 a month boils down to the magic of compounding. If you invest your retirement savings wisely, you'll have the option to not only see major gains in your account, but then reinvest those gains for added growth. That's how monthly contributions of $300 over a 45-year period could get you all the way to $1.03 million, even though you're only actually putting $162,000 into your retirement account.

Of course, for your savings to mimic the numbers above, you'll need to invest somewhat aggressively, which generally means loading up on stocks. The 7% return above is a few percentage points below the stock market's average. If you play it too safe with your investments, however, you may not see nearly as high a return, and as such, less growth on your savings.

Though working longer offers benefits that aren't just financial -- one study found that it can actually lead to a longer life -- the reality is that many seniors have no choice but to keep plugging away past their mid-60s because they're ill-prepared to pay for retirement. If you'd rather not find yourself backed into a similar corner when you're older, start funding a retirement savings plan as early on in your career as you can. At the same time, aim to invest your savings wisely so that you're able to accrue enough wealth to enter your senior years from a financially secure standpoint.