Warren Buffett’s 5 reasons to never retire
Many people dream of the day when they can finally quit working and enjoy retirement. But to Warren Buffett, retirement “is not my idea of living,” he has said.
He might be on to something. At 85 years young, when many of his contemporaries have long since retired, Buffett remains at the helm of his highly successful company Berkshire Hathaway. With a net worth of $66.7 billion, he’s also one of the richest men in the world and one of the most successful investors of all time.
If you’re thinking about retirement, take a page from Buffett’s playbook and reconsider. Here are five reasons why Buffett will never retire and why you shouldn’t, either:
You’re healthy: Americans are living longer and they’re healthier than ever before. So it makes sense that older workers are staying put, with many saying they plan to delay their retirement date or never stop working. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2020, those 55 and older will make up 25 percent of the labor force.
However, not everyone will be able to work long into their golden years. According to the National Institute on Aging, 35 percent of people ages 55-59 were forced into retirement because of health problems. While Buffett is healthy and sharp as a tack, he has said that even if his muscles weaken and his stamina slows, he’ll continue to do business as usual because that won’t affect his ability to pick stocks or buy companies. Maintaining your health gives you the option to work as long as you want.
You won’t have a fixed income: As soon as you leave the workforce, you’ll likely be living on a fixed income and counting on your retirement savings. If the market tanks, as it did in 2008, or inflation rises significantly, you could find that your purchasing power has diminished. And that could have a substantial impact on your ability to live comfortably.
If you keep working, though, you can continue to contribute to your retirement savings plan and capitalize on the additional years of compounding interest and portfolio growth. Like Buffett, you can rest easier knowing you have the means to retire but made the choice to continue working and building your wealth.
You’ll stay engaged and productive: If you derive great satisfaction from your job, why consider quitting just because you’ve reached a certain age? Buffett recently told the Huffington Post that he’s “tap dancing to work every day” and that “it doesn’t get better than that.”
Likewise, many boomers say their job gives them a sense of purpose. A recent Bankers Life survey found that 69 percent of middle-income boomers who already retired said they would have liked to have been able to work longer.
You’ll continue to mentor: Buffett attributes much of his success to learning from older and wiser teachers. He told ESPN: “I found what I love to do very early. When I was 7 or 8 years old I knew that this particular game really, really intrigued me. And then I had some great teachers along the way.”
Delaying retirement allows you to impart your wisdom and experience to others. In the Berkshire Hathaway owner’s manual, Buffett writes: “I benefited enormously from the intellectual generosity of Ben Graham, the greatest teacher in the history of finance and I believe it appropriate to pass along what I learned from him, even if that creates new and able investment competitors just as Ben’s teachings did for him.”
Older workers have survived layoffs, mergers, management changes and other major shifts in the workplace. They have the experience and coping skills to navigate stressful situations successfully. In his 60-plus years in business, Buffett has watched markets slide, companies implode, funds dry up and other serious business challenges. He is wise enough to avoid knee-jerk reactions and stay focused on the long term. And so are you.
You can leverage your knowledge: Buffett didn’t become one of the world’s most successful businessmen overnight. It took decades of hard work, hits and misses to gain the experience needed to build his empire. And just like Buffett, the tacit and institutional knowledge you hold is valuable to your employer.
According to a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, most employers recognize that older workers usually have more skills and experience than younger ones. The study also reported many organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to retain older talent as boomers start to retire. Some companies will face a wide gap in institutional knowledge as retiring workers leave.