From work woes to retirement reveries—delve into the age-old puzzle of retirement age policies. The clock is ticking.
Your alarm bell rings in the morning. You open your eyes, your mouth dry and a pesky headache already building, hinting at your desperate need for a cup of coffee. You dress up. The shirt you have chosen is creased, ever so slightly, but you know your boss will notice. She always does. You eat breakfast in a rush, a stale piece of toast lathered with butter and jam, and just like that, you’re late. Your boss will notice, and you’re not too sure you will get that end-of-year bonus anymore. You should care, but you don’t anymore, and you have 40 plus odd years until retirement.
A 9-to-5 job can be soul crushing. Whilst COVID was horrible in many ways, it was at least great at pointing that out. As a result, many began dipping their toes into the world of freelancing, both as side-gigs and main sources of income, but freelancing hours are long, and uncertainty runs at an all-time high. It a solution which, albeit sustainable for certain personalities and lifestyles, still takes up long and tedious amounts of your time.
And time, of all things, is the most expensive of currencies.
The French know this well. Following an announcement from their Macron in April 2023, the national retirement age in France was raised from 62 to 64. That is two years more, an average of 4160 hours more. Ever since, the French have been protesting non-stop, from marches to more violent demonstrations of un-satisfaction. But here’s the kicker: even after the reforms, France’s retirement age still hangs three years below that of countries like Australia, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, or Israel. Hot on their heels are Portugal, Ireland, and The Netherlands, where where retirement happens at the age of 66. On the flip side, Cameroon and Namibia take the crown for the youngest retirement age, marking the exit point somewhere between the range of 50 to 60 years of age.
The age isn’t as alarming until you realise that one third of your life is spent at work. On average, that is 90,000 hours over a lifetime. Intriguingly, there exists a belief that investing 20 hours of dedicated, uninterrupted effort into a particular skill can yield relative competence in that domain. If you spent as many hours learning new skills as you do working, over an entire lifetime you could be relatively competent at 4500 different things.
With your 9-to-5, how many hobbies do you even pursue?
The idea of a retirement age, that is, an age over which you are no longer a productive part of the workforce, is not a new concept. It was first introduced in Germany, back in 1881 by Otto Von Bismarck, first marked at 70 years of age, and later decreased to a more reasonable 65. In recent years, governments have been steadily upping the age back to its beginnings, a consequence of things like rising longevity and declining fertility rates.
So how do we strike a balance? For one, work less. Retiring later when you are working a scarce 4 hours week is much more manageable than late retirement with a crushing 40-hour workload. Through the appropriate investment strategies, passive income sources and flexible jobs, there has never been a better time to learn the ropes of a shorter working week.
If you want to learn how, watch this space.