10 Reasons Today’s Older Workers Are Delaying Retirement

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After spending years — possibly even decades — dreaming of retirement, it can be tough to put your post-work plans on hold just as you are about to cross the finish line.

Yet, millions of Americans now are bowing to the reality that they will need to delay their retirement.

Recently, Nationwide surveyed 1,100 workers ages 35 and older — with the vast majority age 45 and older — and found that just 58% feel they are on the right track when it comes to retirement, down sharply from 74% in 2021. The financial services company polled individuals who have access to a workplace retirement account such as a 401(k) plan.

Four in 10 workers say they now will delay retirement, and following are the top reasons why.

10. Spouse job loss

Laid-off senior worker
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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 5%

An unexpected job loss can devastate your finances. When income suddenly dries up for half of a couple, it creates hardship and even crisis for some households.

In the face of such uncertainty, delaying retirement is probably prudent.

8. Expensive health-related costs (tie)

Senior man with his doctor
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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 11%

Paying for health care in retirement can be brutally expensive.

Estimates vary, but Fidelity Investments found that the average 65-year-old couple retiring now and enrolled in Original Medicare can expect to spend $315,000 on health care and medical expenses throughout retirement.

Some soon-to-be retirees have looked those expenses in the eye and blinked. Perhaps they want to work for a few more years to stuff money into their health savings account to pay for health care during their golden years.

8. Getting bored in retirement (tie)

A bored senior regretting retirement
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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 11%

Some people dream of climbing a mountain, only to discover upon reaching the summit that they don’t really like the view.

Endless days of doing nothing can get old pretty quickly. If you end up in this situation, consider grabbing one of the “20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees.”

7. Supporting a relative or friend due to inflation

Older couple discussing finances
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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 12%

Inflation has been an unwelcome surprise for all of us, but rising prices have hit some people harder than others.

If a loved one needs financial assistance, it only makes sense to keep working to generate cash so you can help.

6. Having withdrawn a lot of savings due to inflation

Unhappy senior woman with empty wallet
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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 21%

For years, we have heard about the danger that inflation can pose to those on fixed incomes. But few of us worried, as it had been many decades since such rising costs posed a real problem.

Until now. With inflation now red hot, the cool move may be to put retirement on ice for a little longer.

5. Saving less due to inflation

Man looking at inflation
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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 42%

As the price of day-to-day necessities — from gas to groceries — soars, there is little cash left to put into savings. So it makes sense to keep working until prices moderate again.

If inflation is putting the squeeze on your wallet, check out “10 Sure-Fire Ways to Beat Inflation.”

4. Being unable to live the life they want in retirement

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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 43%

Some people have very modest goals for retirement. But others have big dreams.

If you are in the latter camp, you might want to keep working and saving until your pile of cash is large enough to live exactly as you have always hoped to do.

3. Concern about a future market crash

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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 44%

Just prior to the Great Recession, millions of older workers were flush with stock market cash and equity in their homes. All looked rosy for those about to retire.

Then, the bottom fell out, and many people found themselves realizing their worst financial fears.

Today’s older workers appear to have learned from that debacle and are willing to work a little longer to ensure a lot more financial security.

2. Unexpected decline in savings due to market conditions

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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 47%

By some measures, 2022 ranks as one of the worst years ever for the stock market. That’s a tough reality for any investor, but it’s even worse news for those who are nearing — or are actually in — retirement.

When cracks start appearing across your nest egg, delaying retirement can be a wise choice.

1. Concern about not having enough retirement savings

Senior woman counting money in front of piggy bank
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Respondents who cited this reason for expecting to retire later than planned: 73%

It’s a cliche, but it’s also the top concern of many retirees: How to avoid running out of money before you run out of life.

John D. Rockefeller — founder of the Standard Oil Co. and one of the world’s richest men in his day — once was asked, “How much money is enough?”

The billionaire replied succinctly: “Just a little bit more.”

Many of today’s retirees have taken that philosophy to heart. Who doesn’t wonder if they really have enough money to retire? If you can’t be sure of the answer, maybe it makes sense to bank a few more paychecks before sailing into the sunset.