What to Do Now to Make the Most of Retirement

CH Blogger


If you’re like a growing number of Americans, retiring at 62 or even 68 may seem too early. Whether you love what you do or are still building your retirement savings, research tells us working longer may help you live better, longer.


A 2016 study reported in The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health indicates that working just one year more resulted in an 11% lower risk of mortality among healthy participants. In a similar study, the Sightlines Project from the Stanford Center on Longevity identified three key findings that can contribute to living longer better: healthy living, financial security, and social engagement. Work can help you build savings, stay engaged, and give you another reason to focus on your health.


Let’s take a look at how working longer might improve your health as well as your wealth.


 1. Healthy people are more productive.

If you want or need to stay active in your career, whether you have a blue collar, white collar, or service job you need to be healthy. Between lost days on the job, which can mean lost income, and healthcare costs, getting sick can be expensive. Adopting the healthy behaviors outlined in the Sightlines Project can help protect your physical well-being as well as the health of your bank account. The study defines healthy living as avoiding risky behaviors (smoking, excessive drinking, drug use, etc.) and making healthy choices day to day (diet, exercise, etc.). Making healthy habits part of your routine may help you stay in the workforce longer, be more productive, and stay in good health for retirement and beyond.


2. Working longer may mean a bigger nest egg.

Knowing you have adequate money to live comfortably beyond your working years can provide a sense of security that can’t be overstated. However, according to the Sightlines Project from the Stanford Center on Longevity, Americans’ financial security is declining. Whether you’re working past 65 out of need or want, there are steps you can take to make retirement more enjoyable and financially stable. For instance, claiming Social Security at 70, instead of 62, can result in a monthly payment that is 75% more. And, working longer allows you more time to contribute to your 401(k) plan.  


 3. Social engagements and purpose are powerful.

Just as important as finances and healthy habits, social engagement is the third prong to living long and living well, according to the Sightlines Project. Working longer can provide not only additional income but also increased opportunity for social engagement. The study identifies social engagement as meaningful relationships and participation in communities. These two forms of engagement can be easier to accomplish while still working.


Consider ways you can use work’s social engagements to springboard into retirement. Does your office support a local nonprofit that you can continue to volunteer with after retirement? Are there ways you can engage more deeply with family once your schedule opens up? Is there a local walking group you can join that might be good for your wealth and health? Your social engagements don’t have to cost anything beyond your time, which once you’re retired you’ll have more to give.  


As you prepare for retirement — maybe that’s next year or next decade — consider the Stanford Center on Longevity’s three key findings to design a retirement that helps you live long and live well.


What steps are you taking now to help make the most of your retirement years? Share them below.