In her compact, easy-to-follow book, How to Retire with Enough Money, author Teresa Ghilarducci explains that one of the smartest decisions you can make is to put off the day you start collecting Social Security. The government pays a maximum benefit at age 70, so working longer can mean thousands of dollars over the course of your retirement. But how can you ensure that you'll be employed—and employable—until age 70?
Here are a few ways to beat the odds.
One, stay technologically literate. “Hey, don’t look at me,” you might be saying. “It’s not like I’m still on MySpace.” But technological proficiency isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. An ongoing one. You might feel you’re up to speed now, but someday you’ll tell a younger coworker that you’re going to text them, and they’ll say, “What is this, 2016? Don’t text me, just brainwave me on my neurotenna!” It’ll happen before you know it. Don’t spike the ball on the 40-yard line. Keep moving forward.
There are advantages to tech literacy that go beyond how hirable you look to an employer. First, advances in technology tend to make jobs easier, not harder—if they didn’t, they wouldn’t replace old methods. Second, jobs that require technological proficiency tend to be desk jobs, which will be the kind you’ll need if you have age-related physical limitations.
Two, get midcareer education. You wouldn’t want an operation to be done by a surgeon who finished his residency in 1998 and then never updated his skills; you’d want somebody who’s kept on top of new procedures and techniques. What applies to medicine applies to many other fields. It isn’t just elite professionals who need midcareer education. Software and technological devices are used in a great many fields, and they’re constantly changing. And that’s not all. New machines, new markets, new techniques, new ideas, new priorities . . . You’ll face some or all of those over the course of a long career. Be interested, be engaged, and embrace change.
Three, make and keep friends in your line of work. Yes, networking was one of the most ubiquitous buzzwords of the 1990s. But networking was a popular concept for a reason: It paid off. It still does. If you’ve been laid off, connections and goodwill are incredibly important to getting that next job. People will pick up the phone and talk to someone they know and like. They’re much less likely to answer a phone message with an unfamiliar name and number attached.
Four, scale back your expectations. As we’ve already noted, it’d be ideal to keep working in your chosen field, the one in which you’ve spent most of your career. But that may not be possible. Statistics tell us that employers in manufacturing, finance, insurance, wholesale trade, scientific and technical services, arts and entertainment, and the recreation industry all have a strong bias toward hiring younger people. However, older workers may find jobs in home health care (quite the irony: old people taking care of old people), retail trade, management, administrative support, waste management services, education, health care, and the social assistance sector.
The point: The job that’s open may not be the job you want. You might be thinking, I’ll pack it in and retire before I work behind a bakery counter. That’s your prerogative. But always remember the 30 percent reduction in your Social Security check that you face if you retire at age 62 on the one hand, and on the other, the premium you’ll get by staying employed until 70. The government is giving you an incentive to stay in the workforce; it’s in your best interest to take it. For that reason, you’ll need to be both determined and humble when job hunting.
More about How to Retire with Enough Money
Here is a single-sit read than can change the course of your retirement. Written by Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci, an economics professor, a retirement and savings specialist, and a trustee to two retiree health-care trusts worth over $54 billion, How to Retire with Enough Money cuts through the confusion, misinformation, and bad policy-making that keeps us spending or saving poorly.
It begins with acknowledging what a person or household actually needs to have saved—the rule of thumb is eight to ten times your annual salary before retirement—and how much to expect from Social Security. And then it delivers the basic principles that will make the money grow, including a dozen good ideas to get current expenses under control. Why to “get rid of your guy”—those for-fee (or hidden-fee) financial planners that suck up valuable assets. Why it’s always better to pay off a loan or a mortgage.
There are no gimmicks, no magical thinking—just 116 pages of financial common sense that really works.