This article was published on 30 January 2010. Some information may be out of date.

Oh no, oh no, it’s off to work we go

Returning to work after a holiday is rarely easy. Back when I was employed — as opposed to self employed — I remember always feeling as if I were in the wrong job on my first few days back at work.

But part of the down feeling was probably just having to be somewhere at a fixed time, after a period of doing what I wanted when I wanted. Once I got back into the swing of things, I always felt better about it all.

If you’re still going through the Just Back At Work Disgruntled Feeling (JBAWDF), you’ll probably agree with the quote, attributed to anonymous, that work is the price you pay for money.

When we stop to think about it, though, we work for many other reasons, too. Consider whether you would be willing to clean out sewers for more pay. If not, what makes you favour your own job?

Here are some possible non-monetary rewards for working:

  • Feeling you are making a contribution to someone or something, or that you have accomplished something worthwhile.
  • Identity. Many people, when asked who they are, start with what they do for a living.
  • Status. You don’t have to be an award winner to take pride in what you do.
  • Enjoying the social environment at work — or at least acknowledging there are people there to share “what I did on the weekend” with. Having a feeling of belonging.
  • Fun. This varies widely, but most jobs bring at least the occasional laugh.
  • The opportunity to be part of a team that can achieve more than you could on your own.
  • Gaining experience, which you hope will lead to a better job.
  • Learning — from how to make or do things to what it’s like for people in other walks of life.
  • Even just filling in time, keeping you off the streets and out of trouble.

You probably have other items to add.

No wonder many people feel lost if they lose their job, or when they retire. Which leads me to an article I recently read about a UK survey of about 2500 people between 36 and 65. About 30 per cent wanted to keep working after 65. No big deal, you may think. Maybe a lot of them felt they hadn’t saved enough for retirement.

The interesting bit, though, was that of the wealthier people in the survey, a much higher 45 per cent planned to work after the traditional retirement age — presumably for non-financial reasons.

Other research has come up with similar findings. Many Baby Boomers are not planning to switch, over a weekend, from working 40-plus hours a week to working zero hours. Whether they switch to part-time work in their current career or take up a new part-time occupation, many plan to gradually reduce their workloads.

This is good not only because they can benefit from our list above, but because it can make a surprising difference to how much they need to save for a comfortable old age.

In one example in my book “Get Rich Slow”, a 50-year-old man with no retirement savings can slash the annual savings needed to reach his retirement income goal from $15,100 a year to $5,300 a year. He does this by planning to switch from full retirement at 65 to earning $20,000 a year in a part-time job from 65 to 75.

And if the work is something he enjoys, hopefully he can avoid JBAWDF — a.k.a. Jay Bored Eff.

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Mary Holm is a freelance journalist, a director of Financial Services Complaints Ltd (FSCL), a seminar presenter and a bestselling author on personal finance. From 2011 to 2019 she was a founding director of the Financial Markets Authority. Her opinions are personal, and do not reflect the position of any organisation in which she holds office. Mary’s advice is of a general nature, and she is not responsible for any loss that any reader may suffer from following it.