Counting on Working in Retirement to Boost Your Income? Here’s Why That Strategy Can Backfire

·3 min read
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With rampant inflation and fears of a looming recession, people may be planning to work past retirement age to make up for any shortfalls in savings. Well over half (70%) of workers expect to work in some capacity during retirement, according to the latest Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI). However, the same study found that only 27% of retirees are actually working now.

The study surveyed 2,677 Americans ages 25 and older. The group included 1,545 workers and 1,132 retirees.

Out of all workers surveyed, 34% said they expect to work part-time in retirement, but only 16% do. Moreover, 19% of workers said they expect to work seasonal jobs or sporadically throughout the year, yet only 7% of retirees are doing this now. And for those who want to go the extra mile, the numbers are slimmer: Three percent of workers say they intend to work both full-time and part-time, the survey says. Yet, only 2% of retirees do this today.

While rising prices may have added extra urgency to workers’ plans to continue earning, the annual EBRI study has consistently found a big gap between those who plan to work for pay in retirement and those who actually do. Several factors may be behind this withdrawal from the paid workforce, including health concerns, caregiving responsibilities and age discrimination in the workplace. It’s best not to count on the ability to work as long as you’d like, and that makes maximizing your savings today all the more vital.

How to boost savings now

One major obstacle that you can face in retirement is the rising costs of health care. Brent Bruggink, director of retirement plan services at CG Financial Services, recommends eligible people open a health savings account (HSA). Many people with high-deductible health insurance plans can open HSAs through their employers or at financial service institutions such as banks. An HSA helps you save for retirement while providing you with special tax benefits. For example, the money grows tax-free, and you can withdraw money from your HSA to fund qualified health expenses tax free. And if you’re at least 65-years-old, you can use the money for anything without facing a tax penalty (although you will owe regular income taxes if you withdraw HSA funds to pay for non-qualified expenses).

And if you can, aim to max out your IRA or 401(k). If you’re at least 50-years-old, you can take advantage of so-called catch-up contributions and divert a maximum of $7,000 to your IRA and $27,000 toward your 401(k) in 2022.

“Consider the areas where you can reduce spending and redirect that money to investments for retirement,” Bruggink says. “If there are areas where a reduction in spending is appropriate, those funds can be used to take advantage of the catch-up contributions, for example, and help ramp up retirement investing efforts.”

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