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10 Ways to Gradually Retire

Emily Brandon

Flexible retirement.

Some people work 40 or more hours per week and then abruptly stop working altogether the day after they retire. But there are also a variety of ways to gradually reduce your hours as you transition into retirement. Consider these flexible work arrangements for people approaching retirement age.

Phased retirement.

Perhaps you can reduce your schedule to work four days per week and then three, or work 30 hours per week instead of 40 or 50. A phased retirement allows you to gradually cut back your hours and increase your leisure time as you approach retirement. A few employers have formal phased retirement programs that allow for a reduced schedule or responsibilities prior to retirement, but most phased retirement arrangements are negotiated on an individual basis.

Part-time retirement.

A part-time job allows you to bring in some extra income and delay large withdrawals from your retirement savings. Equally important to many retirees is the mental stimulation, physical activity and social perks a part-time job can provide. Interacting with coworkers and customers can help you avoid the loneliness and isolation many retirees face.

Seasonal work.

Retirees don't need to work the entire year. You might want to pick up a retail job around the holidays to pay for extra gifts for your grandchildren and qualify for a company discount. Or perhaps you'd like to work at a ski resort in the winter or a tourist attraction in the summer and then take the rest of the year off. Retired accountants may be able to pick up work during tax season. Many businesses need extra help for their busy period and don't require an ongoing commitment the rest of the year.

Second career.

While raising a family you may have made career choices that focused on boosting your salary, rather than following your interests. Once the kids are grown or the house is paid off, you might want to switch into a field that is lower paying but that you enjoy more. Some formerly high paid employees change careers to become teachers, work at nonprofits or pursue other traditionally low paying career options focused on helping others.


Some people retire because they feel burned out and overworked. A sabbatical can change that. Some employers allow long-term employees to take a sabbatical year to explore other interests. After a year doing something new, you might come back recharged and ready to tackle new projects for a few more years.

Mini retirement.

Instead of saving up all your leisure time for the end of your career, you could take extended vacations at regular intervals throughout your lifetime. Perhaps you want to take a three-month break every three years or a six-month break every five years. You may not be in such a rush to retire when you get breaks from the daily grind over the course of your career.


Some older employees get pushed out of the workforce because their skills are out of date and they fail to keep up with new innovations in the field. But it's never too late to retrain for a new position. Free and low-cost online courses make it easier to acquire new skills at a time that's convenient for you. Some fields offer training programs and boot camps to recruit more employees.


Older workers can make ideal entrepreneurs due to their extensive experience and contacts in a given field, both of which can help to make a business venture successful. Someone who has worked at a career for 20 or more years often knows what innovations or services the field needs and can successfully market the endeavor to former colleagues or clients and other contacts in the industry.


After you retire, your former employer or other firms in the same industry might recruit you to consult on specific projects. While this consulting work may not come with benefits, the pay can be good and you may be able to select which projects you work on. Consulting can allow you to continue to work on challenging projects without having to be in the office full-time or for the full year.

Hobby job.

Some hobbies can be turned into a money-making endeavor. Retirees who make crafts can often find a market for them online or at craft fairs. Gardeners might be able to sell their crop at farmer's markets or to neighbors. Those who play a musical instrument or who are skilled in math or writing might be able to provide lessons or tutoring to local children.

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