Empowering the Freelance Economy

Why freelancers must reverse engineer their retirement plans and longevity

Glady McGary is one of the world's oldest practiicing doctors, authors and life coaches/Image source: https://gladysmcgarey.com/
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A study has found that two in three freelancers do not know the age they can afford to retire. We look at how freelancers can reverse-engineer their retirement plans and longevity to get the most out of their “golden years”

Concerns have been raised over the lack of visibility the UK’s 4.3m self-employed workers have of their retirement plans after 66% of independent workers admitted they have no idea when they will be in a position to stop working.

A study put to nearly 350 freelancers, contractors and self-employed professionals, by the pension planning app, Jarvis, revealed that the remaining 34% know when they can retire, financially speaking.

Fears have been heightened after separate research carried out by IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed) in May 2023 showed that 45% of freelancers were not saving into a pension scheme – a finding which has led to fresh calls for political parties to address ahead of the next general election.

Jarvis’ study also asked self-employed professionals what retirement means to them personally, if it doesn’t mean stopping work altogether.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they expect to work part-time in some capacity, with a further 30% expecting to set up new ventures. 16% plan to ‘give back’, such as working with a charity, with the remaining 11% planning on taking on non-executive roles.

Commenting on the findings and the need for self-employed workers to plan strategically for their retirement, Jarvis founder, Royden Greaves, said:

“You can’t help but sympathise with self-employed workers, the vast majority of whom don’t have a clear retirement plan in place. Let’s face it, having battled through the pandemic, independent workers are now grappling with soaring costs. This means many have had little choice but to focus on the here and now.

“This is understandable, but the reality is that self-employed workers need visibility of their retirement. Without an employer contributing to their pension, if you work for yourself it’s up to you to take control of your pension and in turn, retirement.

Retirement: what does it represent for you?

“As you can see from our research, the very word retirement means different things to different people,” says Greaves. “The ever-changing world of work and economic climate is having a knock-on effect not only on the age at which people plan to retire but whether or not they even believe in retirement at all.”

Seb Maley, CEO of insurance provider for flexible workers, Qdos, which has partnered with Jarvis, adds, “At the best of times, it’s vital that anyone working for themselves has a view of their retirement, whatever that might mean to them personally. The worry, however, is that so few self-employed workers have clarity of this from a financial perspective – particularly at such an economically challenging time.”

Maley says there has been a fundamental change in the world of work in recent years, with more people striking out on their own and starting their own businesses.

“With this in mind, having a clear path to retirement is crucial in making this shift towards independent working sustainable,” he suggests.

How to reverse engineer your retirement goals

Greaves tells The Freelance Informer that all too often freelancers only have half an idea of when they would like to stop working and do not have visibility of or a strategy to help them achieve this goal. 

“Having a number in mind that you need to hit in order to afford retirement is important,” he says. “A smart starting point is to focus on the lifestyle you want when you retire. How much disposable income will you need each month? How many holidays would you like to go on? Do you want to help your children buy their first home? Is there a dream car you’ve always wanted?” 

“With this figure – and with inflation baked in – it’s about working backwards and identifying the steps you need to take today, tomorrow and the years leading up to your retirement to make it a reality.”

From Jarvis’ research, it looks like if you are self-employed now you will probably be still working in some capacity in your retirement years. How can this be seen as a positive rather than a life sentence?

Greaves says, “There are two key reasons why people don’t necessarily see themselves retiring. First, a challenging few years economically means the reality is that people are working for longer out of pure necessity.” 

He continues, “But the other factor driving this is far more positive. Freelancers, contractors and self-employed workers are entrepreneurial at heart – the very idea of them stopping work altogether isn’t an option. That isn’t to say these people will work flat out until they drop, but retaining business interests well beyond the typical retirement age isn’t uncommon.”

How to reverse engineer your health to keep working in later life

If you are a freelancer and it’s looking like you may have to work in your retirement years or at least part-time to make ends meet, you will need to have the energy and physical mobility to do that. However, the advice you may come across about how to remain fit as you age can be confusing and even contradictory as you can see in the following videos. Each one highlights the wisdom of three very distinct and highly informative people and influencers.

If you’re in your 30s, 40s – even your 50s and 60s – then keeping fit by training today for your twilight years might seem too distant a goal. Dr Peter Attia, a medical doctor and founder of the Early Medical Practice, a private clinic in the US, which helps patients lengthen their lifespan while simultaneously improving their ‘healthspan’, explains in a recent Dr Chattergee podcast how we shouldn’t assume we will have great mobility in our later years if we do not put in the effort now.

Attia asks his patients to write down 10 things they want to be able to do in the last decade of their lives. He then works with them to start training that will give them the best chance of meeting those goals.

However, other longevity specialists like Dan Buettner say walking consistently rather than doing heavy cardio will also give you amazing mobility in your 80s and beyond. But where you live can have a huge impact on your life expectancy and longevity.

Dr Gladys McGarey, considered the mother of holistic medicine, is co-founder of the American Holistic Medical Association and author of the book, The Well-Lived Life: A 102-year-old Doctor’s Secrets to Health and Happiness at Every Age. Listen to what she has to say about what can heal most things and how to make the most of it in this recent podcast.

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