A 2012 survey by the American Psychological Association found that working Americans 55 and older were the most likely to cite enjoying their work as the most important reason they stay at their job. In fact, in that age group, more people cited work enjoyment than pay as the reason for staying with their current employers.
And sometimes a combination of these factors comes into play. Utahn Reid Saxey, 75, is still working as assistant director of the Brigham Young University Paint Shop due to a large unexpected tax bill on his side business selling homemade clocks.
But even when he retires, he said, he'll still work on his clock business full time. "I’ll never take it easy," Saxey said. "My ambition is to get out and sell more clocks."
Getting on track
But for those who want to retire someday, preferably sooner rather than later, figuring out how to navigate the world of 401(k)s and IRAs can seem daunting. Experts say building up savings as early as possible is essential in having enough money to retire the way you want.
Jessop said planning for retirement is “like running a marathon versus running a sprint. You have to prepare all along like you’re going to run a marathon. You can’t just get up to the start line and go.”
Experts also say getting sound financial advice is important. A 2010 study from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, for which Sass was a co-author, found when people received good financial advice, it substantially changed their attitudes toward their retirement plans.
A full 60 percent of study participants reconsidered their plans, with 24 percent saying they would increase their retirement age, 20 percent saying they would increase their savings, and 16 percent saying they would do both. The center has developed a website, Squared Away, where people can calculate the amount they need to save for retirement, figure out how to allocate assets and find reliable financial advisors.
Sass said finding good financial advice is a valuable and important step toward retirement preparation.
"It's more important to get somebody to figure out how much you should save and spend and how long to work," he said. "Not somebody who’s a stock picker. Find someone who can figure out how much you should save and spend, when to retire, and who will help you stay on that plan consistently."