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Nearly a quarter of baby boomer and late Gen X men are ‘unretiring’ or planning to because they can’t afford to kick up their feet in the current climate

After decades of grinding, most people aspire to one day be able to kick up their feet (preferably at a holiday home by the beach) and retire. But after having a brief taste of retirement, a sizable chunk of pensioners are dusting off their suits and returning to work instead.

In fact, a survey of more than 6,300 U.K. adults for Standard Life, part of the nation's largest long-term savings and retirement business, found that 14% of baby boomers and late Gen Xers have already “unretired”—and a further 4% are considering it.

While 16% of women over 55 years old are planning a career return, this figure rises to nearly a quarter of men—some 21%.

Sadly but unsurprisingly the growing number of pensioners rejoining the workforce aren't doing so because they missed the daily routine of clocking in from 9-to-5, the buzz of the office, or the company of colleagues.


According to the research, money (or lack thereof) is the main driving force behind the trend, with inflation adding around $1,250 a year to households' annual bills.

The current climate is causing a double-whammy impact on pensioners' pockets: For more than a third of respondents, the cost of living is now higher than they’d planned for, meanwhile, 24% said that their retirement income is no longer enough to actually live on.

With pensions not quite stretching like they used to, 31% of respondents want to earn more money so that they can make the most of their free time and treat themselves beyond splashing out on basic needs.

Even those who haven’t yet retired have taken a close look at the economy and noted that they won’t be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor for some time: More than one in 10 are now postponing their plans to retire, while 3% are taking on an additional job to boost their income.

“The economic landscape of the last few years has put sustained pressure on people’s finances, with all ages and stages of life impacted,” said Dean Butler, managing director for retail direct at Standard Life. “As a result, people are being forced to seek new ways of supplementing their income, be that taking on additional work, delaying retirement plans, and even returning to work having previously retired.”

Although inflation is showing signs of easing, Butler warned that “it won’t provide an overnight fix” for those currently struggling with the cost of living.

Unretiring: A global trend

It’s not just in Britain that people are working well beyond retirement age. Across the pond, the number of those who have continued to work past 65 in the U.S. has quadrupled since the 1980s, according to the Pew Research Center.

Now, almost 20% of Americans 65 and older are employed, nearly double the share of those who were working 35 years ago. In total, there are around 11 million Americans 65 or older who are working today, accounting for 7% of all wages and salaries paid by U.S. employers. In 1987, they made up 2%.

What’s more, just like in the U.K., many older Americans are worried they won’t be able to afford the retired life they dreamed of. So instead of puttering around the house, they are working for longer to grow their pension pot or taking up part-time gigs to sustain a better standard of life.

“I’ve got decades ahead of me, knock on wood,” Renee Stanton, a 61-year-old IT worker who is scaling back her hours to chase her lifelong passions, recently told Fortune. “I’m funding my ski addiction now.”

The earlier you start thinking about retirement the better

It’s never too early to start planning your retirement—in fact, the earlier the better.

As the renowned financial expert Suze Orman has pointed out, Gen Z and millennials could retire as millionaires if they make the most of compound growth.

She used just $100 to highlight this: “With a 12% annual average rate of return—the markets can do that for you—you’d have a million dollars,” Orman said.

Depositing a monthly investment of $100 into an account with a 12% yield would net someone approximately $1,188,342 in 40 years’ time.

But here’s the catch: The longer you delay your investment journey, the lower the accumulated amount of money will be.

A millennial who started their investment journey just five years later, at age 30, would accumulate around $649,626 by age 65. Shockingly, a mere five years is enough to slash the return by almost half. Meanwhile, waiting 10 years to start your investment journey could cost you $700,000.

“It can be tempting to put off thinking about your long-term financial future and focus purely on the short term but, if your finances permit and it’s appropriate for your circumstances, the sooner you engage with and begin to contribute to your pension, the better your ultimate retirement outcome will be,” Standard Life's Butler said.

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