As I write this, I have at least a dozen machine shop customers that are in their 80’s and 90’s. I visit with them from time to time, and write to them every month. Our conversations are usually the same….I ask how they’re doing and whether or not they are ready for retirement. Some of them have been telling me they are not quite ready, for more than a decade! Their reasoning varies from heart touching to down right laugh-out-loud funny!
For one dear customer whose wife passed a few years back, he feels that work is what is keeping him alive, and I know he is probably right. For another, he says that if he retires, he is afraid that he will kill his wife….or his wife will kill him. Two partners that we retired out of their machine shop business kept their rental space for two years after they stopped working. It was their “man-cave poker place.” I say this because every time we visited, they were playing poker! Yes…I’m talking about you, Mikey and Joe! They finally entered retirement after I promised that they could use my office for poker if they needed to get away from home. And yes….they did ask if it could be strip poker!
So, as I do with most everything that affects my manufacturing customers, I write about it! I thought it might be appropriate to examine when it’s good to stay in business, and when its not. Are the fears of my customers about the effects on their health valid? Let’s look at the facts.
The National Bureau of Economic Resources reports the following on the affects of retirement on health:
Retirement leads to a 5-16 percent increase in difficulties associated with mobility and daily activities, a 5-6 percent increase in illness conditions, and 6-9 percent decline in mental health, over an average post-retirement period of six years. Models indicate that the effects tend to operate through lifestyle changes including declines in physical activity and social interactions. The adverse health effects are mitigated if the individual is married and has social support, continues to engage in physical activity post-retirement, or continues to work part-time upon retirement. Some evidence also suggests that the adverse effects of retirement on health may be larger in the event of involuntary retirement. With an aging population choosing to retire at earlier ages, both Social Security and Medicare face considerable shortfalls. Eliminating the embedded incentives in public and private pension plans, which discourage work beyond some point, and enacting policies that prolong the retirement age may be desirable, ceteris paribus. Retiring at a later age may lessen or postpone poor health outcomes for older adults, raise well-being, and reduce the utilization of health care services, particularly acute care.
I can tell you that my very UN-scientific research backs this up. Over the years I’ve stayed in contact with many of the machine shop owners that we’ve retired out of the business. The ones that are the happiest and the healthiest are the ones that stay ACTIVE after retirement and have a good social network.
Define activity? Sure, I’d be delighted to. One customer secretly wanted to be a bartender for decades. He did it in retirement and was happier than a pig in you know what!
Others had hobbies that they could devote more time to, post-retirement. Others became very involved in philanthropic work. Some did nothing. Where are they? They are old, cranky or…..I hate to say it – Dead!
Reading the above research results…part of me is saying, “I’m NEVER retiring!” But, take a second look. The really bad results are from little or no activity. Can you get the level of activity necessary to maintain health through another avenue? Let’s look at a professional for some help on this subject. Here’s what Dr. George Simon had to say on the subject in an article he wrote for Counseling Resource:
- Having a plan: One way to help reduce anxiety associated with a new lifestyle is to have a well thought out plan for how time will be spent. It helps to prioritize the kinds of activities and interests that mean the most to you and to be sure sufficient time is dedicated to them. It also helps to incorporate short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals into a personal retirement plan.
- Structuring time: A lot of newly retired folks complain about losing a sense of structure when they stopped working. Without sufficient structure, a precious day can seem “wasted” before you know it. It’s important to make sure each day allows sufficient time for both necessary and favorite activities.
- Balancing “work” and leisure: Retirement doesn’t mean the end of work. Usually, there are still bills to be paid, yards to be kept, repairs to be made, etc. Too much work can really put a damper on the benefits of retirement. But abandoning all responsibility in favor of a life of pure leisure can have some dire costs, too. So it’s important to strike the right balance.
- Keeping the “challenges” in life: An important secret to staying vital and energized and avoiding feelings of “stagnation” is to set and tackle reasonable challenges. Whether it’s tackling the challenge to learn something new, increasing one’s level of fitness, or going somewhere you’ve never been before, there’s no better way to keep your motivation and spirits high than to set some goals and to strive to reach them.
- Re-defining and, if necessary, re-inventing yourself: So many times we derive much of our sense of identity from the kind of work we have always done. So, when we stop working, it’s easy to lose a sense of who we are. Although one doesn’t necessarily have to abandon all sense of professional identity, it’s important to make some decisions about how we want to see ourselves as retirees.
- Staying active: There’s almost nothing more toxic to our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being than inactivity. Some retirees even go back to work part-time in their same or an entirely different occupation just to ensure that they remain active. And with regard to our skills, it’s important that we “use them or lose them”. Staying active, especially in a variety of activities that require the use of many skills, is key to a healthy retirement.”
Clearly there are ways to keep your body and mind in a healthy condition well into retirement. What then should be the dividing line? When is it too long? I would suggest that there is a financial aspect to this that should be considered. Are you paying rent at a facility to only go there once or twice a week? Even if you own the facility, how much are you paying in real estate taxes and insurance to maintain something that you are no longer using to its full potential? For some with financial means, the expense might not HAVE to be considered. However, if maintaining a location is eating away at your retirement dollars, I would suggest that it might be time to consider a change.
The bottom line is, there is no bottom line that is right for everyone. Every situation is different. Do what makes you happy. Do what makes your heart sing. If that is staying in business at 85 or 95 years old – Do It! My only caution is for you to carefully consider your finances. If you’re spending more than you are taking in, and thus negatively impacting your finances, I say it’s time to stop working at this, my old friend. Saying good-bye to the shop does not have to mean saying good-bye to life! There is always the opportunity somewhere for strip poker! Be happy, be healthy and call us whenever you are ready.
Fran Brunelle is an industrial auctioneer with almost 20 years experience, a manufacturing business broker, licensed real estate broker specializing in industrial properties, a real estate auctioneer, certified appraiser and author. Fran has established several corporations that provide services to the manufacturing industry. The “Accelerated Group of Companies” provides tools and services to help manufacturers grow and exit strategies to maximize dollars when they are ready to retire or sell their manufacturing business. The group of companies that Fran Brunelle has established includes:
www.AcceleratedBuySell.com – Provides Online Industrial Auction Services, Used Equipment Auctions, Capital Equipment Auctions, Plant Liquidations, Industrial Plant Cleanout Services, Used Machinery Location Services, Certified Machine Tool and Equipment Appraisals, and more.
www.AcceleratedMfgBrokers.com – Specializes in Manufacturing Business Brokerage and Mergers and Acquisitions. We help manufacturers develop exit strategies to maximize retirement dollars, and successful manufacturers expand through acquisition of other manufacturing companies, product lines and customer lists. Manufacturing Companies for sale throughout the United States are listed on this site.
www.AcceleratedRE.com – Provides Industrial Real Estate Brokerage Services, Online Real Estate Auctions, Sealed Bid Real Estate Auctions and complete industrial facility cleanout services.
www.IgniteMfg.com – Provides funding for products made in the USA, and engineering/manufacturing educational needs through Crowd Funding.
www.MfgWebSolutions.com – Provides web development and social media services for manufacturers at under-market rates.
Fran Brunelle is a contributing author to:
blog.AcceleratedBuySell.com - A site that provides the latest manufacturing news, statistics and opinion. It also provides information on how to grow a manufacturing business, and what to do if you are a manufacturing company that needs to close.
MFGWebSolutions.com/blog - Provides the latest information on social media and web development for manufacturers. It gives manufacturers tips and tricks for boosting their web presence.