Why I Love the Idea of a Partial Retirement

Retirement can be a big change for a lot of people. And it’s not always a positive one.

It’s not uncommon to eagerly anticipate retirement, only to wind up bored and stressed about money once that milestone rolls around. That’s why a partial retirement could be a good bet. Here’s why I love the idea of easing into retirement rather than diving right in.

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1. You can continue to earn money as you play around with a new budget and lifestyle

Being retired means having a lot more free time on your hands. That’s time you’ll need to fill, and it can cost money to do so. With a partial retirement, you don’t necessarily need to tap your 401(k) or IRA right away, because you’ll still be earning an income. At the same time, you’ll get a sense of whether your plans for staying busy are doable, given the retirement savings balance you have.

2. You can see what it’s like to have more downtime

Some people don’t do well with having free time on their hands. I happen to be one of them, so I like the idea of easing into a routine that’s less structured.

Now you may find that once you scale down to part-time work, you enjoy those days when you don’t have to be at the office. But if the opposite ends up holding true, you may decide to work longer or line up some volunteer opportunities to ensure that you’re able to keep yourself adequately engaged.

3. You can potentially ward off mental health issues

There’s a reason depression rates are commonly higher in retirees than in workers. For many people, a job is a part of their identity. And not having a job to go to can be a tough thing to cope with mentally. Partial retirement affords you the opportunity to deal with those issues before you no longer have a job to report to at all.

How to pull off a partial retirement

Some employers are supportive of partial retirement and are willing to work with seasoned employees to scale back their hours. But not every company does this, so it’s a good idea to have those conversations with yours if you’re nearing retirement age.

If working part-time at your current job isn’t an option, you can either find a new one or create a new one by starting your own freelance business. For example, say you work in IT and your employer tells you it’s either 40 hours a week at your desk or no hours at all. If that’s the case, you can start your own IT consulting business — only instead of plugging away for 40 hours a week or more, you limit yourself to 20.

You can do your best to plan for retirement from a financial, logistical, and mental standpoint, only to encounter hiccups once your time in the labor force wraps up. Partial retirement gives you a chance to deal with certain issues along the way so you’re able to come up with a game plan before full-fledged retirement is upon you.

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