Should You Delay Retirement?

This businesswoman is delaying retirement due to the fulfillment she finds in her work.

According to the Center for Retirement Research, the average retirement age of Americans has been on the rise since the early 1990s.1 A recent survey reported that nearly 25% of Americans are delaying retirement due to inflation.2 With debt among retirees also reaching all-time highs,3 it’s no surprise that some people are choosing to work longer.

Do You Have an Emotional Need to Work?

Some people are ready for retirement. They may have long-delayed travel plans, an artistic vision that they’ve put on hold, or maybe even a golf course beckoning. If you know how you’re going to spend retirement, that’s fantastic. But you’ll still want to give some thought to the timing of your retirement.

You want to make sure that you work long enough that your retirement income supports your dreams. But you also want to make sure that you’re active enough to get out there and do everything that you want to. This is especially true if you’re planning on something physically intensive, like a hiking tour of the National Parks.

Still, not everyone has firm plans for their retirement years. And the satisfaction of a good work environment can offer a lot of fulfillment. Work gets you out of the house, and it can keep you social while meeting new people. For some, their work means a chance to contribute to the world around them, and a chance to change the lives of others in a meaningful way.

If this describes you, then it’s worth thinking about continuing to work. For some people, their job is something they do to support their family. But if your job means more to you than that, then why not stick around? If it comes down to a fulfilling work life or a retirement that’s going to bore you, it may be worth working a little bit longer. Alternatively, you might consider moving into part-time work, or some other lower-stress job that interests you.

Do You Have a Financial Need to Work?

Of course, not everyone keeps working for emotional reasons. Some people delay retirement out of financial necessity. According to the Federal Reserve’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, 77.4% of American families have some form of debt.4 According to the National Council on Aging, more older adults are carrying debt into retirement than ever before.3

If you’re approaching retirement age with debt, you aren’t alone and you aren’t helpless. There are quite a few ways to help minimize the effect that debt has on your life.

Of course, the ironic part of the situation is that most of the ways to get out from under debt require you to spend a little money up front. A mortgage refinance can help your housing budget in a big way, but you’re going to need a new down payment and any fees associated with the refinance. Likewise, debt consolidation is a great way to make your debt load more manageable. This means that you can combine your current loans into one, so that you’re only paying the interest on one loan. In some cases, you might be able to secure a better overall interest rate, as well. There are a few free or low-cost ways to consolidate your debt, if you have good credit. But either way, a consolidation is going to be easier when you have more income coming in.

However you approach it, it’s easier to knock out debt when you’re working than when you’re on a fixed income like in retirement. If you haven’t retired yet, that means you’re in a prime position to start consulting with a financial advisor about making your retirement debt load as easy as possible. That might mean working a little longer than you planned. But if it provides financial peace of mind for the duration of your retirement, the trade-off may well be worth it.

How Can You Prevent Financial Need from Delaying Retirement?

The good news is, if you’re still working, you have time to improve your financial situation for retirement. Take time to be strategic about your retirement finances. Do you have money in a retirement fund like a 401(k) or an IRA? Do you have any investments, or insurance policies with a cash value? Now is the time to put money away. Not only to help maximize your retirement stream, but also the tax benefits there may be of setting money aside. Mutual of Omaha and its representatives do not provide tax and legal advice, and the information provided herein is general in nature and should not be considered tax and legal advice. Registered Representatives offer securities through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representatives offer advisory services through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services, Inc.

Again, this might be a good time to bring an advisor into the fold, to help you get the most out of your earning years. More Americans are seeking professional financial advice due to rising inflation and speaking with someone who can give you a holistic perspective can be helpful.2

Even with all the tools and help in the world, predicting the costs of life in retirement can be tricky. One of the biggest problem areas for many people is healthcare costs. People tend to greatly underestimate what their healthcare is going to cost them, and financial advisors don’t always take the cost of healthcare into consideration when they make cost-of-living projections for their clients. To that end, it’s worth looking into your options for health care – including Medicare – before your enrollment period arrives.

For many, the financial landscape is changing. It’s true that more seniors are entering retirement with debt. But that doesn’t mean that debt is unmanageable, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to delay retirement, if you start thinking strategically now.


1 Munnell, Alicia. (July 2022). “How to Think About Recent Trends in the Average Retirement Age?”

2 Reinicke, Carmen. (May 31, 2022). “25% of Americans are delaying retirement due to inflation, survey finds.” (June 30, 2023). “Get the Facts on Senior Debt.”

4 U.S. Federal Reserve. (October 2023). “Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2019 to 2022: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances.” Page 25.

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