Living to be 80 or 90 years old was once considered an anomaly. In fact, when social security was first introduced in the US in the 1930s, the average life expectancy at birth was just 58 for men and 62 for women. But today—though still rare—it’s not unheard of to celebrate grandma’s 100th birthday. Studies suggest that if life expectancy rates continue to increase at the speed they’ve experienced since the 1800s, centenarians may be the norm by the year 2100.
Empowered by the potential of longer lives, today’s retirees are getting creative about how they spend their time, shifting focus to more productive endeavors. Many of the myriad hobbies and opportunities for professional enrichment available to retirees today are a product of technological advancements. Innovations in connectivity, mobility, the sharing economy, and the rise of social media have made retirees’ lifestyles much less passive than the stereotypes of the past.
In other words, times have changed dramatically since the days when the de facto retirement age became 65. Those who plan to retire in the 21st century will experience post-career life in a wildly different way than previous generations. Whereas people used to look forward to 10 or so years of golfing, fishing, and globetrotting, the retirees of the not-too-distant future may need to plan on decades of retired life. The prospect of these lengthy post-retirement second acts necessitates a focus on smart financial planning, both before and after retirement.
In the “typical” retirement scenario of the future, second-act opportunities abound. Already, people over the age of 55 comprise America’s fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs, and more and more older Americans are picking up part-time work like editing, consulting, or customer service. Technology has also given this cohort access to skill-building tools, like massive open online courses (MOOCs) at top-tier universities, and online learning resources like Coursera. Using these platforms, older adults can hone skills ranging from 101-level business acumen to bilingualism to playing the accordion.
Sharing-economy platforms have also created numerous ways of generating passive income. Renting out a vacation home on a platform like Airbnb makes it simple to put property to work. Some retirees even sign up for gig economy stints through online freelance marketplaces, or the like to offset the growing lack of company-offered pensions.
Social media, too, has opened doors for communication and community-building among retirees. It’s never been easier to connect with friends, family, and like-minded strangers on the opposite side of town—or even across oceans. And before you surmise that the 65+ age group tends to be technologically inept, think again: Social media use among this demographic tripled between 2010 and 2016.
There are even dedicated social networks for people over a certain age, catering to a fifties-plus crowd, and dating sites solely intended for seniors. All this social stimulation bodes well for longevity—science suggests that maintaining social connections in retirement can boost health, increase happiness, and reduce the risk of dementia.
With a twenty-year-plus expectation for retirement, however, come a few factors people must take into account long before they reach retirement age. Particularly for retirees who hope to launch risky business ventures—like opening that long-dreamt-about bookstore or Costa Rican beachfront bar—smart and proactive financial planning is a crucial part of making golden-years goals realistic.
Seeking professional assistance from a company like Voya, which serves over 13 million people, and offers a variety of professional retirement planning services, as well as advice regarding annuities, IRAs, college planning and life insurance, is one way to help ensure that your savings will last for the long haul. Whether you’re just starting to map out a plan for the future or are well on your way toward nurturing a nest egg, Voya can help you on the journey you choose to financial wellness.
It is this financial balance—living for today while preparing for tomorrow—that Voya can advise you on. Whether you are starting to create goals and make a plan, have special needs to consider for you or a family member, are curious about the cash value of life insurance, or are trying to understand how voluntary benefits could help protect you from paying out of pocket for a critical illness, accident, or hospital stay, Voya is dedicated towards providing one-on-one guidance tailored to your needs, to and through retirement.
The state of retirement is changing, irrevocably and fundamentally. To take full advantage of all the opportunities inherent in the retirement landscape of the future, smart planning is paramount.
This article was produced on behalf of Voya by Quartz Creative and not by the Quartz editorial staff.
Investment adviser representatives and registered representative of, and securities and investment advisory services offered through, Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (member SIPC).
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