Warren Buffett is a legendary investor, a business tycoon, and a hero for many who work in the financial services industry like I do. He’s a man with principles – a man of wisdom. He’s also one of the richest men in the world.
But despite his riches, Buffett still lives in the same modest home he has occupied for decades. He still lives fairly frugally, never insisting on having the biggest or the best of every contraption known to man.
And like many Americans, Buffet also has no plans to retire.
According to CNBC, not planning to retire is a common narrative for Americans, but for different reasons than Buffett. A recent Gallup poll referenced by CNBC stated that 63 percent of working adults plan to work part-time beyond age 65, while 11 percent plan to continue working full-time. Many of these workers just won’t have the funds to retire, unfortunately. And a lot of these baby boomers will likely die before they get a chance to retire – or, they’ll be forced into a retirement by some sort of medical crisis that hinders their ability to work.
And, the rest? It’s pretty safe to say that millions of our oldest citizens will continue working in perpetuity, or until they just can’t anymore. Why? Because they like what they do, and they aren’t sure they want to stop.
Planning for Retirement: Should You Bother?
I can relate, and I’m guessing many of you do.
I really like my job, I love my clients, and I like creating content for my blog and podcast. I also love life-long learning and the fact that my job isn’t that hard. Let’s face it; being a CFP isn’t exactly digging ditches, so I could easily do this job well into my 80’s or even longer.
If you’re like me or Warren Buffett and enjoy your work, you may be wondering if you should bother saving for retirement. Should you bother saving millions if you plan to work forever?
Obviously, Mr. Buffett doesn’t need a retirement in the same way you or I would; at last count, Warren’s net worth is somewhere around $73 billion. I’m not sure what the safe withdrawal rate would be for an 87 year-old with $73 Billion bucks, but I’m guessing he can survive without a written financial plan.
But what about the rest of us?
Factors to Consider Before You Decide to Work Forever
While the concept of working forever can seem appealing now matter how rich you are, there are certain situations you need to think through ahead of time. Here are a few tips that can clear up any issues around your quest to work in perpetuity:
#1: Living a balanced life might allow you to work longer.
Ironic as it may seem, being a workaholic will make it less likely that you will be able to work beyond a normal retirement age. Be sure to balance work with family time and exercise in order to increase your chances of maintaining your health into your 60’s and 70’s.
#2: Make sure your desire to work isn’t masking other issues.
Are you hiding from something by working longer? Marriage difficulties? The inability to save? Hiding from our problems at the office will only cause these problems to compound over time. Be sure your desire to work is genuine and not the symptom of a larger problem.
#3: Take your spouse into consideration.
No matter your views on retirement, it’s important to keep your spouse’s ideas in mind. You may envision yourself clocking in at the office until you’re 80 or older, but what if your spouse sees the two of you traveling the world slowly or spending your golden years enjoying each other at home? Either way, it’s important to gauge your partner’s thoughts on the issue before you commit either way.
#4: Think about how work would handle your departure.
Also, what about your team? In the event you aren’t immortal (spoiler alert: you’re not), your coworkers should be aware of your plans. If you are fortunate enough to be healthy beyond age 65 and able to work, your team should have a contingency plan in the event you become unable to perform your duties. Warren Buffett is still the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, but he has three Vice Chairmen that will be able to spring into action once Warren’s health falters.
Also, if you are the boss, empower your staff with the latitude to tell you if you are slipping in your duties. People who work close with us might have better intuition regarding our cognitive abilities than we have about ourselves.
Save for the “What Ifs” in Life
While there are no hard stats on the number of people forced into retirement early each year, it’s safe to say this scenario plays out a lot. Your boss accidentally breaks her hip at age 65 and never makes it back to work, or your co-worker receives a terminal cancer diagnosis and takes time off until, well, you know how that ends.
That sounds depressing, and it is, but it’s important to remember that life doesn’t always go as planned. If your goal is working into your 70’s or beyond, I hope you get there. But since there’s a distinct possibility you may not achieve your goal, it’s crucial to consider the alternatives.
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If you don’t save for retirement, there are a ton of scenarios where you could absolutely regret it later on. You may think you’ll work forever, but then life happens and you’re stuck at home. Without a financial nest egg sufficient to cover your monthly expenses, you could live the duration of your life in a state of poverty – or need to rely on family members or your own kids for help.
The bottom line: Even if you prefer to work as long as you can, you should still save for retirement as if you were going to leave the workforce within a reasonable length of time. You never know what life will throw your way, but you can save enough money so that you’ll have options later on.
Warren Buffett is so rich he doesn’t have to decide whether to keep working or relax on a tropical island. But, the rest of us need to make a choice to save for the future – then act accordingly.