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How to phase in retirement, according to experts


For generations, people have worked into retirement age, thrown an office party and maybe a watch on their last day, then walked off as retirement sunsets – but for many, it’s was more like jumping into a cold pool.

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The shock of plunging into retirement from full-time work with no transition period may be more traumatic than liberating – but for the first time in history, older workers can slowly walk into retirement instead of leaping their heads the first one.

“Retirement may be the superpower of the modern age,” said Jordan Grumet, MD, author of “Taking Stock.” “We know that a smooth transition from the accumulation stage to the disbursement stage can strengthen retirement portfolios and lessen the psychological onset of depression, anxiety and isolation that come with retirement. full retirement. But what do retirees do?

That’s the question more and more older workers are trying to figure out on their own – and GOBankingRates asked the experts to point them in the right direction.

“The Art of Subtraction”

One of the healthiest ways to adjust to retirement is to phase out the less pleasant remnants of your career until you are acclimated to your new retirement life. Summarizing the concept, Grumet coined the phrase “the art of subtraction”.

“Instead of quitting work altogether,” Grumet said, “why not slowly subtract all the things we don’t like about our jobs and keep what’s good? As a doctor, many of my colleagues are stopping night and evening calls, stopping taking new patients, or switching to half-day schedules. Although not all professions allow it, many companies allow more experienced employees to stop taking on new clients, move to part-time or part-time schedules, move into a new consulting role W- 2 or to work only during peak periods.

He gave the example of accountants helping out during tax season or retail workers working around Christmas.

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The progressive retirement movement is gaining momentum

According to the Wall Street Journal, American companies tend to give older workers the choice to cut their hours while keeping their full-time wages and benefits. The trend accelerated as workers demanded more flexibility during the pandemic. Another factor was the need for companies to keep older workers with key skills and experience on board, as human resources departments faced historically high retirement rates.

The Journal cited research from consulting firm Mercer LLC, which found that 38% of human resources departments now offer phased retirement — more than double the 17.2% who might say the same before the pandemic — and that are only those who have official policies. Many other companies offer de facto phased retirement in an informal format.

“Most of the time it’s not a set policy, but senior managers and executives are informally allowed to pass some of their duties on to their successors to train them,” said Mark Sadaka, trial attorney, advocate for public health. and founder of the Sadaka company.

It’s good for the company and the employee

Phased retirement helps companies retain experienced older workers while positioning themselves as compassionate and forward-thinking companies, but employees reap the lion’s share of the benefits, not just professionally, but also physically and healthily. mental.

“The first few months of retirement are totally dull and boring and can cause retirees to lose sight of the identity they’ve held onto for decades,” Sadaka said.

By embracing the lifestyle of a retiree, they can avoid the culture shock of diving deep into retirement and find their new normal at their own pace.

“I tell my clients that there are a number of mental and physical health benefits to continuing to work in retirement, even part-time,” said independent insurance agent Travis Price, who specializes in in Medicare. “My main advice is that retirement is not about working on things you don’t want to do because you have to. It’s finding a passion that interests you and working for fun rather than money.

So what’s the plan if your business isn’t trending?

There are many ways for older workers to start their own phased retirement if their employer doesn’t have a plan in place.

The classic approach is to quit your job and invest some of your retirement savings in your own business.

“New retirees can consider starting their own business,” said Charles Scholle of Scholle Law, one of Georgia’s top litigators with more than three decades of experience practicing law in the Atlanta metro area. . “It’s a very common path that many retirees take soon after saying goodbye to their jobs.”

They might also find a happy medium with secondary restlessness that helps them leave the workplace and retire.

“Today’s digital environment makes this even more possible,” Price said. “As retirees, they can use their hobbies and other passions to generate income from YouTube, an online retail store, Facebook Marketplace or even their own website by sharing content and blogging.This can be accomplished with no required workspace or fixed hours.

Another option is to leave business to its own devices for the gentler culture of the 501(c)(3) world.

“Many nonprofits hire older people to support their careers after retirement,” Sadaka said. “It’s become an increasingly popular trend among baby boomers to move into the nonprofit sector for their booster careers.”

For those looking to occupy their time on the path to retirement, the most rewarding avenue might simply be to give that time to the people who need it most.

“If a person’s finances are secure,” Grumet said, “why not volunteer without pay? Other opportunities include mentoring the next generation of workers in your field. »

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was previously one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the nation’s largest newspaper syndicate, the Gannett News Service. He worked as a business editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as an editor for, a financial publication at the heart of New York’s Wall Street investment community. .

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