When Retirement Has Nothing to Do With Money and Everything to Do With Time

We talk a lot about how so many older Americans are having trouble saving enough money for retirement, but that doesn’t mean they’re not retiring. A recent survey by Fidelity Investments and the Stanford Center on Longevity showed that while 51 percent of respondents indicated that the state of their finances would determine when they retired, 49 percent said that their retirement dates weren’t tied to a specific level of savings; instead, their retirement was tied to a specific date.

In other words, some people want to retire by a certain age regardless of how much money they have socked away, and they’re willing to adapt their lifestyles to whatever money they have (whether in savings or in Social Security). This could mean a lot of things: Downgrading to a smaller home (which lots of retirees do regardless of retirement savings), moving to a cheaper city, or finding a ‘Golden Girls’-type living situation.

Although I definitely find myself identifying with the 51 percent of respondents who want to build up a nest egg to ensure a comfortable retirement, this other point of view makes tons of sense. Nobody wants to work (against their will) until the day they drop dead. We all want time, after years of toiling, to enjoy the last few years of our lives — whether that’s to spend time with loved ones, do the things we want to do before our bodies start failing us, or just have the time to ourselves to quietly go through the day without having to report to anyone.

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