The Five Types of People Who Never Retire (Are You One of Them?)


"I actually think the whole concept of retirement is a bit stupid, so yes, I do want to do something else. There is this strange thing that just because chronologically on a Friday night you have reached a certain age… with all that experience, how can it be that on a Monday morning, you are useless?" — Stuart Rose

What springs to mind when you think about retirement? I wistfully think about sleeping in, and not using a time clock (which I despise). But for other people, the word "retirement" causes shudders. (See also: Will You Ever Be Able to Retire?)

Consider these five categories of people who will never retire. Are you among them?

1. The Broke Non-Retiree

Personally, I find this the most unsettling scenario. Whether due to poor financial planning or heavier-than-anticipated financial needs, more and more older workers continue to find themselves in the labor pool. According to the Center for Public Affairs Research, a 2013 survey revealed that a startling 47% now plan to retire at a later age than they expected when they were 40. The survey also found that 39% of workers age 50 and older report having $100,000 or less saved for retirement, not including pensions or homes; 24% have less than 10,000.

Maybe it's time to take stock of your financial future by estimating your retirement expenses.

2. The Workaholic

There is a difference between the person who enjoys work, and does so with enthusiasm, and the person whose life is out of balance and cannot stop working. Perhaps you have run across some of these in your work, too. As the Wall Street Journal explains, workaholics have difficulty transitioning from work to retirement life, because so much of their identity, social network, and purpose is tied to their career. They can feel adrift in retirement without the structure work provides.

When working is almost an addiction, it can be devastating to face retirement. One of my former co-workers springs to mind. Although qualified to retire for years, she fought it tooth and nail, taking work home and working weekends. Even when finally convinced by management that it was time for her to step down, she would find excuses to drop by the office, or call people to have lunch. If you recognize yourself in this description, there is help available. Consider support groups, such as Workaholics Anonymous, which aim to help workaholics develop coping skills and the ability to relax during downtime.

3. The Successful Investor

You may know some people in this category. They bought rentals, years ago, and now are landlords. Or perhaps they bought silver or gold, or learned how to effectively invest in the stock market. There is a common thread here: They got moving, educated themselves, and by their 50s, were enjoying a leisurely lifestyle. But that doesn't mean they want to (or can) stop. Many keep at it, repairing their rentals, or checking their investments every day. They've made being a successful investor their life's work, and they have no need to "retire" from it.

4. The Life Re-Inventor

Starting a new career later in life can be an invigorating way to re-invent yourself. My friend Nancy, a former school art teacher, began working with the mentally ill, eventually started teaching classes, and is now co-authoring a book about art therapy. She finds it tremendously rewarding and has learned a lot of new things. Her husband, an engineer, always wanted to be a teacher, so he started volunteering at a school. He was so successful at tutoring, he was shortly offered a paying position.

For my friends, the career switch was fairly easy. However, you certainly wouldn't want to quit your present job and jump into something new without doing some research and soul-searching. Will your new career help fulfill life ambitions? Will it offer a large enough paycheck to make the switch and time investment worthwhile? (See also: 6 Ways to Avoid Running Out of Money in Retirement)

5. The Mega-Successful Lifers

Consider the lives of the truly, astoundingly successful. For a mega-successful CEO or famous actor, the demand for their talents are so high, that there's less incentive to quit working. According to a study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, the desire to keep working until the last day is common to over 60% of the wealthy. But you don't have to be filthy rich or famous for this to be true of you, too. Evidence also suggests that many people who are successful in more realistic endeavors — such as artists, small business owners or physicians — also feel the incentive to continue using their talents until the very last day. Will you?

What are your retirement plans? Do you see yourself in one of these categories? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

My grandparents retired in their mid 60's. my parents retired in their late 50's and I plan on doing it in my early 50's. I will not totally stop earning money, but having had several examples in my family on how to do it the right way I've done what they did and then added extra investments in addition. It can be done but it takes time and a plan...start today!

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Thanks for the useful post for all readers about the five types of people who never retire. I think it is excellent to work as much age as you can by keeping you fit and healthy. A working man has a good reputation in the society as well as at home. It is good to earn some money with respect and honor depended on yourself.

Guest's picture

What is retirement anyway? Is it getting up early and losing your creativity? I can't even think of it. We are created to create and we all need to exercise and use our talents until our last day and breath. Social security and monthly retirement income is great but the day we start to think of ourselves as 'old' or 'retired' is the day we start losing it all.

Guest's picture

Some people, live alone, it is there only social life. plus they are unable, to make, there own, routine, at home!