How You Can Love Your Job To Age 70 And Beyond

people still working after the age of 70Recently I’ve run across a slew of people who are over 70 years old and still work full time. To me that sounds worse than Chinese water torture, but by being nosy asking questions, I’ve confirmed what I suspected was true. Working because you want to is much more rewarding than working because you have to. I think work satisfaction depends on a number of factors, but from what I’ve found, this is how you can love your job to age 70 and beyond.

Sense of Purpose

When I ask people over 70 why they are still working, one theme rang true for the ones who actually love their jobs. They held positions that gave them a sense of purpose. Some were heads of their division and headed up projects that no one else knew how to do. A couple of others were in health care. If a job provides a valuable service or makes progress for something other than the company bottom line, that’s a huge bonus on the job satisfaction scale.

Flexible Schedule or Lots of Time Off

All the older individuals who loved their jobs had the ability to adjust their schedules or work from home. They all had ample amounts of time off as well. One 75 year old, who works full time as a surgical nurse, told me she likes to take long, expensive trips so working full time allows her to afford that without sacrificing normal retirement savings.

Not Living Paycheck to Paycheck

I’m not sure anyone can love their job while living paycheck to paycheck. All the energy goes into paying bills, and there is really no option other than to continue working. Once people have adequate savings and are out of debt, more choices present themselves.

The couple who live next door to me both work full time, but I know they have no debt and plenty of savings. I tease them all the time about needing to retire, but I know they both secretly enjoy their jobs. Financially speaking, they could certainly quit tomorrow if they wanted.

On the other end of the spectrum, I know a fellow who works for the city as a janitor on a senior job placement program that pays minimum wage. He had to take the job because he can’t get by on social security alone. He hates his job but truly can’t afford to quit. I can’t imagine being that age and still having to hustle for a paycheck. It makes me want to transfer some money into retirement as we speak.

Positive Attitude

Obviously positive people like things more than negative people, but attitude goes a long way in job satisfaction. Going back to my neighbors, I love to listen to their life stories. They have reinvented themselves probably a half dozen times and have done everything from sales to HR to owning a restaurant. I think they realize that no job is perfect or forever, but they have learned to take the good and move on to other opportunities when one thing ends or becomes stagnant.

Another lady I work with at the government clinic went back to work after her husband passed away. She was sad and bored and decided to put her energy into something positive instead of feeling sorry for herself. She also volunteers for hospice, which would normally seem like a very depressing job, but her attitude and personality are just what you’d hope for if you had a family member in that situation.

I think positive people can look at a job and think about how lucky they are to be able to work and earn money while keeping their mind occupied. Negative people can’t let little things go, and they obsess over that one annoying thing so much that they can’t appreciate what they do have or think of ways to make it better.

No Debt

I was kind of shocked to read a statistic that senior citizens 65 years or older account for $18 billion of the student loan debt in the U.S. While that’s not a huge percentage of the overall student debt in the country, it is a factor. Student loan debt can never be discharged through bankruptcy, and the government will garner social security wages if you default on federal loans. The article did say that 80% of loans were for personal use, but 20% comes from parents borrowing money to send their kids to college. How sad would I be if my parents could not retire because they were paying off my education costs? They’d probably hate their jobs.

The other very depressing thing I found was that nearly a third of seniors still have a mortgage. With low interest rates, I understand that might be OK if there are passive income streams that cover the payments while allowing savings to grow through other investments, but I suspect lots of seniors have to keep the paychecks coming to make their house payment. Working with the fear of losing a home to foreclosure would not make me feel lots of love for my job.

The people I know who love their jobs into their 70’s have no debt, mortgage or otherwise. Ironically, not having to pay bills makes a paycheck that much sweeter. People in their 30’s, 40’s and beyond really should think long and hard about taking on debt and how they plan on paying it back. Even if the payment seems manageable now, how would it be at age 70?

Thing like using a home equity line of credit to take vacations or refinancing into a longer mortgage term to pay for your daughter’s wedding might mean not being able to retire. We only have ten years left on our mortgage if we pay the minimum payment, and I would never,ever take out a 30 year loan at this stage in my life.

Secrets Of Loving Your Job

It seems that loving a job mostly comes from our own attitudes and personal behaviors. While you can search for a position that give you a sense of purpose and lots of time off, a career alone does not guarantee good financial habits or debt freedom. Spending hard earned money in ways that will be a benefit instead of penalize down the road is the only way you can achieve those goals. It’s really hard to think about retirement when you’re 25 and wanting a new car or an updated spring wardrobe, but every choice made today affects future happiness. If you don’t believe me, ask a 70 year old!

Do you know people who are over 70 and still work full time? Do you know senior citizens who still owe student loans?

 

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.

33 Comments

  1. The journey is not that long depending on why your here? We come.for so many reasons, so many bodies and so many times. To be 70 plus years and still going is not that hard if we do one thing. We be come.what we think about. We are nothing more then our total sum of thoughts at the end of the day, and nothing more then our total sum of thoughts at the end of times. Just be careful what you wish for, you might just get it, and there is a price to pay. Lessons learned past 70 plus. Love them and still working.

  2. There are so many reasons to be working beyond 70. I had custody of grandchildren for years. Raised my daughters alone after desertion from their father. I returned to college for 2 more degrees which changed my life and retirement but set me back with student loans. I am doing wonderfully have a happy marriage paid off student loans have a pentiin and 401k. Finally I have a dollar in my pocket to decorate the house and travel. Love my job and financial freedom. Not everyone inherits money and can save early in life when life hands you setbacks. What is important is knowing you succeeded at haning all that you had to do and steoed up to the plate. Lived a purposeful life

  3. Oh my! Student loans at that age freaks me out. Thankfully we don’t have student loans ourselves but we will be helping our kids through college. We won’t be taking out student loans though.

    My parents are over 70 and enjoying life! In fact, they just purchased a ‘winter home’ in Arizona! I’m thrilled they have their financial ducks in a row!

      1. Often when you hear that late in life a second home is purchaed usually money was inherited. It often doesn’t mean a coupl frugally saved for a lifetime to purchase that second home.

  4. My Dad is eighty-six and still working as a part-time pastor. He does it because ministering to people is what he does best. However, he has decided to retire this June to spend more time with my Mom. She has Alzheimer’s, and has reached a stage where she needs more care and he needs more help. Once things settle down in their new home, he plans to finish his book when he has free time.

    1. That is really amazing. My Grandpa worked as a part time pastor as well after he retired. It kept his mind active and let him visit and socialize.

  5. My mom is 65, and loves working. I suspect she´ll continue working until she´s no longer physically able. She gets to be creative, and think hard (aka. exercise her brain), and meet people. It definitely gives her a sense of purpose, and makes her happy. She has some debt to pay off but the debt is pretty new and I suspect she´d be working even if she were debt-free because her work is so much fun for her.

  6. One more factor to mention is good health. Even if someone wants to work past typical retirement age, they may not be able to do so if they are ill. I know poor health was the deciding factor when I retired, even though it has improved since that time. I think it’s great to find work that is meaningful and rewarding no matter what your age, whether it is paid or volunteer. But when you’re a senior, you want to be working by choice not because of debt or poor planning!

  7. I thought the senior citizen thing was ludicrous until my mom pointed out that it’s mostly from people who took out loans to help their kids. Made a little more sense but… sheesh.

    My grandfather retired as a teacher, but then he ended up teaching country line dancing. I think some people just like to work and bring in a paycheck. I’m one of them.

    After you’ve been on disability, you’re reluctant to give up the power of a paycheck. If we won the lottery tomorrow (which would be impressive since we don’t buy tickets), I’d still not want to quit right away. I’d visit a financial advisor and find out how it would shake down, what kind of annual draw we could take, etc. And I still might work a couple of days a week because… paycheck!

    But even with the lack of a lottery, I’d probably just go down to part-time once we could afford it. I don’t like my job, but I love my boss who is the owner of the company. It’s hard to give that up. Or it will be once I get to the point that retirement is even remotely feasible.

    1. Actually the article said 20% was from parents helping kids but 80% was for loans people took out later in life to go to school or went through a divorce or other life altering event and had to go into deferment while interest still accrued. I know there were a couple of people in their 40’s who were in optometry school with me. If they’d borrowed $100K like most of my classmates, that could easily stretch into retirement unless really high payment were made.

      I’m always hoping someone will gift me a lottery ticket that will be the big winner. Here’s to hoping!

  8. The people I have met who are happily working past 70 are those who are choosing to work. They don’t need to keep working to live their lives, their mortgages are paid off, little debt etc. They want to work because they enjoy what they do, feel like they are making a difference and gain a lot of purpose from their jobs.

    Those whom I have met who lament angrily the fact that they are still working past 70 are those who do not have the choice. They need to work to live.

    My goal is get to the working by choice milestone as quickly as possible (hopefully in the next 5 years). I will probably still work in one form or another for the rest of my life but I want to be able to choose what I do and when.

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