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What Is Unretirement?


Unretirement refers to retirees who reenter the workforce after retirement. This trend is driven by various factors, including longer life expectancies, financial considerations and a desire to engage in other forms of meaningful work or productive activities. Unretirement can take various forms, such as part-time employment, consulting, volunteering, or starting a new entrepreneurial venture. Here’s what you need to know.

A financial advisor can help you compare the benefits and drawbacks of reentering the workforce after retirement.

How Unretirement Works and Why It’s Becoming Popular

Unretirement can change your traditional retirement plan to focus on re-entering the workforce. This can be a practical strategy to secure additional income and reengage in meaningful work that could also elevate your quality of life. Here are three key things that can influence your unretirement:

  1. Motivation and goals: Retirees may return to work for financial reasons. They may need additional income to support their lifestyle, pay off debts, or bolster retirement savings. Others may seek intellectual stimulation and a sense of purpose through part-time or full-time employment, engage in volunteer work, or start a new career in a field they are passionate about. Some retirees may also miss the social interactions and structure that work offers them and choose to return for these reasons.
  2. Flexible work arrangements: Unretirement can be facilitated by flexible work arrangements. Many employers value experienced workers and offer part-time, remote, or project-based roles to accommodate retirees’ preferences for work-life balance and reduced hours. Additionally, the gig economy and freelance opportunities provide retirees with a platform to offer their skills and services.
  3. Financial considerations: Financial planning plays a crucial role in unretirement. Retirees may need to assess their retirement savings, pensions and other income sources to determine whether unretirement is feasible. They may also need to navigate tax implications and Social Security benefits, as continuing to work can impact these factors. Proper financial planning can help retirees make informed decisions about how much they need to work during their unretirement phase and what type of work aligns with their financial goals.

How to Determine If Unretiring Is Right for You

A woman discussing unretirement.

Unretirement is a personal decision that will require you to re-evaluate your retirement goals and finances. Once you have determined whether your goals involve boosting your income, pursuing and new vocation, volunteering for a cause, or reconnecting socially, you will also have to assess your financial situation.

For additional context, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that the average retired person spends approximately $45,756 annually, or roughly $3,800 per month. So, if you’re falling short, unretirement could offer a solution. But, as we explained earlier, you will also need to examine how this decision could affect your Social Security benefits, which are based on your work history and age, as well as taxes.

You should also explore different work options to see how they could fit into your desired retirement lifestyle. Consider whether you’d like to continue in your previous career or explore a new path. Look for flexible work arrangements and see how they align with your preferences and needs at this stage in life.

And finally, take note of the impact that returning to work will have on your health, relationships and personal satisfaction. Think about whether the benefits of work will offer mental stimulation, social interactions and a sense of purpose. And compare them against potential stress and time commitments that could outweigh your decision.

Bottom Line

A man going over different options for unretirement.

Unretirement is a growing trend, driven by economic, social and psychological factors. Some take the journey voluntarily while others are forced into it. It’s important to prioritize your financial needs, retirement benefits eligibility and personal motivations before you commit to unretiring. 

Tips for Retirement

  • You may want to work with an experienced financial advisor to help you make a retirement plan that will actually work when you hit retirement. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now
  • Knowing how much you need for retirement is part of the battle. You can use a retirement calculator to help you estimate how much you may need to retire properly. 

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