Certified Rehabilitation Consultant
S.C. Johnson’s mother lived to the age of 98. While that’s a genetic inheritance most people would envy, it poses some financial planning challenges for Johnson, who raised three children as a single parent and didn’t get her college loans paid off until she was in her 40s. Retirement saving started after that. She also still has a mortgage.
As traditional retirement age approached, Johnson’s financial advisor cautioned her: “You need to keep working.” Every year since, Johnson says, the advisor tells her, “Keep working.”
As it turns out, a lot of baby boomers are hearing the same advice. According to the seventh annual Retirement Survey by Wells Fargo, 74 percent of middle-class Americans say they will need to work during their so-called “retirement.”
Johnson is a Certified Rehabilitation Consultant, licensed in Minnesota, assigned to workers who are injured. She may attend doctors’ appointments with the worker and recommend ergonomic changes or modifications to the job so that the worker can return to work. Other times, she does testing and counseling to help the worker select a new occupation.
While Johnson has managed to build up a retirement cushion, it’s “not enough if the market goes bad or I have a catastrophic health problem.” She doesn’t actively solicit work at this point, but she continues to take what comes in. “I’m lucky to have what I do have,” she said.
Recently, Johnson — who ran on the boys’ track team in her tiny North Dakota hometown — has started training on a treadmill and plans to do at least one 5k run each month when the weather warms up.
“All these years of working out and eating right have paid off,” she said.
How much are you still working?
It’s as much as 25 hours a week — up to 30 if I’m covering for someone on vacation. Sometimes it’s at little as six hours a week. I also do my own reports and bookkeeping. I make a good wage. I get to office at home, and I don’t have employees. My last printer cost me $45; I remember my first one cost $1,200.
Are parts of your job getting harder to do with age?
Driving. I notice that when I have to drive to Burnsville in a snowstorm for a doctor’s appointment with a client, I’m much more tired at the end of the day. When I’m at one of those appointments, I’m “on” the whole time. As you age, I think you have fewer resources against stress. And of course if you’re introverted, you just get more introverted as you get older. On the other hand, as you age, I think you’re better able to assess your resources — to say, “can I do this or not?” I turn down cases in St. Cloud or Mankato, because I don’t want to be in the car all day.
What have you given up to keep on working?
Travel. Doing nothing. When I talk to people who have retired, they describe getting up at 8a.m., doing the crossword puzzle. I envy that. If I die when I’m 80, I’ll be really ticked off, because I’ve given up a lot.
Are there reasons to keep working, other than the financial security?
What I like about it is that I get up in the morning and I have a purpose. I never get up and wonder ‘Why am I here?” Being useful in the world is a huge value of mine. I’ll probably just keep on.