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What is Unretirement?


What is Unretirement?

A term you may or may not be familiar with is referred to as FIRE.  It stands for Financially Independent, Retire Early.  This concept has been picking up in popularity recently and I hear it a lot from medical professionals in the Millennial generation.  A new one I discovered recently balances out FIRE.  It is “Unretirement.”  Yep, it is just as you thought – people who retired and have now gone back to work.  Let’s talk about some of the trends around this “new” concept.

First, let’s look at some of the facts as provided by theretirementmanifesto.com:

  • There is definitely an increase in people who come out of retirement.
  • More than 25% of retirees at some point resumed working.
  • 40% of workers who are over age 65 had been retired at one point.
  • In the last 16 years, the percent of workers over the age of 65 has increased from 12.8% to 18.8%.  So, a 50% increase.
  • Half of the population over age 50 and aren’t looking for work would go back if they had the right job.,
  • Now, here is the one you have probably been wondering about.  The decision to go back to work is normally not driven by financial reasons.
  • Over the next 10 years, the labor force growth rate for 65-74 year old age group is 55%, which compares to a growth rate of 5% for the labor force as a whole.  

Although most people have mistakenly assumed people unretire due to financial constraints, there are other reasons.  And I have seen some of these themes in my family and also with clients.  A sense of purpose is a huge driver.  Imagine going from a profession where you made a difference daily for decades to spending a good portion of your day flipping between CNN, Fox News and CNBC.  Another theme is being mentally stimulated.  I have a feeling there is a bit less brain power needed to golf a couple of days a week versus doing the engineering for a massive piece of machinery.  Finally, many people miss the social engagement.  Besides your spouse, most people spend the most time with their coworkers.  That is a big void at retirement.

A great point that was raised on the retirementmanifesto website was how to find a purpose.  It seems many people unretire because their purpose is/was connected to their profession.  There is nothing wrong with that.  However, before you decide to unretire and head back to any old job, maybe it is worth spending a little bit of time answering some questions about your purpose.  Here is a nice article with ten questions to help you.  Or, as they taught me years ago when I first started – “If money didn’t matter, what would you do with your life?”

If you are really interested in this topic, shoot me an email and I will forward the links for a few more articles on this topic.  Regardless, unretirement is a trend I understand much easier than FIRE.  And, remember there are ways to fulfill your purpose, stimulate your brain, and be socially active without having to go back to the grind.