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Investing: Work Isn't A Four Letter Word

Aug 17, 2007
In our culture, the main goal of retirement is to put our working days behind us and devote ourselves to the pursuit of pleasure. Many find, though, that continuing to work in some form keeps them active and gives their lives purpose. Changing your concept of retirement may even allow you to retire sooner.

Retirement is far different today than what it was for our grandparents. In those days, life spans were much shorter and work more physically demanding. Most didn't even make it to 65, and those who did were often forced to slow down due to health concerns. No one ever dreamed of having decades of doing whatever they pleased.

How times have changed! The 'seasoned citizens' of today are energetic, mentally sharp and physically fit. As a result, retirement should be viewed not as a cessation of work, but as a redirection of activity. Many are discovering this new chapter in their lives is even more meaningful and fulfilling than their years of traditional 'work'.

When someone wants to be able to retire and stop working all together, it increases the amount they have to have saved to achieve that goal. For instance, if someone needs $30,000 a year off of their investments, they should have $700,000 or more set aside just for that purpose. Many haven't built such a nest egg and think they must work longer before they can retire.

That's not necessarily true. It all depends on your view of retirement. Many of the people I know would be bored to death if all they did was play golf and travel. They've reached the pinnacle of their careers and enjoy staying busy. They want to keep their minds active.

Changing your view of retirement may actually allow you to retire sooner. It may be possible to 'retire' from your stressful full-time job and become a consultant in your area of expertise. Doing so would allow you to better control your work schedule while still producing an income.

For instance, I was talking with a gentleman yesterday who took early retirement from a major chemical company, but still works for that company 20 hours a week as a consultant. He chooses his own hours and gets paid well for his efforts. Yet he still has free time to pursue his other interests.

I have another client who retired at 55 who works short-term assignments in various locations for the same company. It allows him and his wife to travel and to spend a couple months a year in a different country. That means he doesn't have to tap his retirement money and he has the freedom to only accept the assignments he wants. Talk about having the best of both worlds!

Earnings from even a part-time position will have a major impact on the amount of money you have to have set aside. Using the example mentioned above, let's say that working as a consultant part-time brought in $15,000 a year. The result is you would only need $15,000 a year from your investments. So instead of needing a $700,000 nest egg, you would only need $350,000.

Some seniors use retirement as a chance to pursue a new career entirely. There may be less pay, but there's usually less pressure, too. And if your new career choice doesn't pan out, you have the financial freedom to change course. Others might take a sabbatical from work for a year or so, then re-enter the work place with renewed energy.

Many seniors who are blessed with abundant resources are eager to volunteer their time to worthy organizations. Many skills important in the private sector are even more critical for non-profits, yet they are often the ones who can least afford them. What a blessing to be able to invest your considerable knowledge and abilities and truly make a difference in the lives of others.

Changing your concept of retirement can relieve the stress and pressure of attaining lofty financial goals. It will allow you to get more out of life while giving you more freedom. And when you love your work, it can give you a great sense of fulfillment. It turns out 'work' isn't a four letter word!
About the Author
Nationally-syndicated financial columnist and Certified Financial Planner Jeffrey Voudrie provides personal, in-depth money management services and advice to select private clients throughout the USA. He will answer your financial question FREE at http://www.guardingyourwealth.net/
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