It used to be that retirement was the goal for most American workers but today that concept is changing and changing fast. Today’s workers are continuing to work, in many cases long after they’ve reached “retirement age”, and they’re doing it for a wide variety of reasons.

Some of them simply can’t afford to retire because they haven’t saved enough in their retirement accounts (or haven’t saved anything). Their pension plan isn’t enough, if they have one, and Social Security certainly isn’t making anybody rich. Interest rates at regular banks are so low that they hardly qualify to replace working salaries and many retirement-age adults simply have too much debt to be able to give up a regular paycheck.

Some people are continuing to work simply because they found out that retirement isn’t exactly what they thought it would be. They’ve seen friends or family retire to enjoy a “life of leisure” and travel around the country in their Winnebago’s, golf every day and spend their winters in the Sun Belt, and have seen that they’re not nearly as content as they thought they would be.

The truth is that retirement really shouldn’t be a goal for most people but instead they should plan to be financially independent so that, even if they continue to work, they don’t have to work “full-time” and can concentrate on doing things that they enjoy rather than having to work someplace where they don’t.

Simply put, a person who is financially independent can choose to work as it won’t be a complete necessity.

Being financially independent could mean that a person, while they are still relatively young, could retire from their 9-to-5 job, but it also could mean being able to make a transition from one career to another. It’s also a way to reduce the daily stress that work, commuting and everything that goes with it can have on a person’s life.

The point being is that instead of saving for retirement of person should save to the point where they have the freedom to either retire or not, and should look at their retirement savings not as money that will lend them a life of luxury but rather as something that will allow them to do the activities, even if it includes “working”, that they enjoy the most.

No matter what your personal view of retirement happens to be, the one thing that’s certain is that saving for the future is vitally important, regardless of whether you plan to retire completely and stop working or not. The reason is simple; the possibility that your health makes a change for the worse, while not something you might wish to think about, is a reality. In other words, there may come a day when you simply won’t be able to work and thus will be forced into retirement.

Having plenty of money in a retirement account, savings bonds, a portfolio of investments or whatever it happens to be is simply a way to ensure that you won’t have to work every day for the rest of your life, whether you want to or not.