June 2, 2011

Going Back to Work? Join the Crowd

The concept of working after retirement is not new. Over the years many folks have found their resources insufficient to maintain an acceptable satisfying retirement lifestyle. Others have planned well, but a catastrophic medical situation has devastated their retirement accounts. Some have found themselves paying for the care of aging parents. More than half of all retirees have debts when they stop working.  Whatever the reason, having a new source of income after retiring from a career or life-long job has been a part of life.

What is changing, is the attitude among recent retirees and those who are still years away from that category. The new feeling is that retirement should not mean the end of producing income through some form of work. To retire and then begin to rework is becoming commonplace. Consider that the average life expectancy was 63 years when Social Security was first created. Today, it is approaching 80. Living well into one's 90's is not unusual. The number of years a recent retiree must support him or herself has increased dramatically.

What is also slowly changing is the attitude among some employers. Studies continue to show that many younger workers often have problems working with those much older. However, employers are beginning to understand the benefits of hiring older workers. The years of experience, the dependability and generally positive attitudes of working seniors, and often, the lack of expensive benefits, makes hiring retirees who want to re-enter the workforce a smart decision.

My post of two weeks ago detailed the reasons why. If you missed it, click here for a link. Sydney Lagier had an article on the  US News & World Report web site with much the same list last week. Some are tongue-in-cheek reasons, some are serious. 

Assuming for now that you may be one of those who wants to work even though you are "retired," there are several options for you to consider. Your decision will be based on your skills and previous employment, whether or not benefits  are important, and how flexible you are.  If you have discovered a way that suits you, I encourage you to share your ideas and suggestions in the comment section at the bottom of this post.


The most common choice is some form of part time employment. We are all familiar with the stereotype of the senior acting as a greeter at Wal-Mart. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that choice. If you love people this may be a perfect fit. But, it is certainly not the only option. I've seen men and women in their 60's working at a gym as a personal trainer or leading exercise classes for older folks. If you are in good shape and have some background in this field, why not?

For the several months leading up to April 15th, most tax preparation companies hire extra help to manage the crush of people needing help. The same situation occurs during the Christmas holiday season at many retail stores. Because your availability is probably flexible, this could be a great way to add several hundred, if not thousands of dollars to your bank balance.

What about being a tour guide? I do that for 6 months a year. It is fun, puts me in contact with lots of people, is not strenuous, and pays well.  Are you an early riser? Newspapers are always looking for dependable folks with cars to deliver their product first thing every morning. How about working at a retail establishment or big box store like Home Depot or Costco.

As a part time employee you are probably not going to receive any benefits. But, you do have more control over how much free time you maintain and how many hours you want to work.

Starting your own business, either as a full time or part time venture, is a serious option for many. Maybe you spent your career chomping at the bit to do something different or better than your former employer. Can you become a consultant and help those in your former industry to succeed? What about that idea for a line of colorful and unique bird houses? You love woodworking...go for it! Quilt-making, dog walking, tax and accounting services, computer setup and classes...the list is endless. Have you considered buying a business that is already operating?

Don't forget franchising. Maybe you have always wanted to own and operate your own ice cream store, carpet cleaning business, pre-school, or fast food restaurant. While not cheap, using the expertise and proven systems of a franchise can get you up and running much more quickly than attempting the entire process on your own.

The concept of cycling in and out of the work force seems to be gaining favor. Work to earn enough extra money for an extended vacation and then stop working. After the vacation or time off, rejoin the work force for awhile,  then go off on another adventure. Obviously, part time employment is really your only viable option if this is your plan. Being a consultant, tax preparer, or any type of seasonal work would lend itself well to this approach.

Cycling works best in an economic situation where jobs are plentiful and your skills lend themselves to this type of drop-in/drop-out work. Like any part time work, benefits will probably be non-existent, but more control over your schedule is likely.

As I was wrapping up this post I stumbled across a brand new blog, 100 Retirement Business Ideas. Ann is building a list for retirees who want to consider some form of entrepreneurship as an alternative to retirement. From what she has detailed so far, I plan on being a regular visitor until she lists all 100 ideas!  There are possibilities listed here that never would have occurred to me.


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14 comments:

  1. Good Morning Bob. I opened my own business after retirement from the corporate world. I made reproduction Hoosier cabinets and other country type furniture. I had all the business I cared to have but you could say I was working part time as except for some large orders I seldom put more than 40 hours a week in the business. I kept the business for six years and then got bored with it :)
    But I think their is a hint of fallacy in your logic about living longer. It is not so much that the "old" people are living longer but more that the young people are not dying at an early age. In the past many died well before their time due to illnesses that we can commonly treat today. My great grandfather lived to 75, my grandfather to 75, my father to 77. So I expect I will be dying around that age also. Much of when you "naturally" die has not changed much in the last century. According to Social Security statistics in 1990 the average life expectancy of a man 65 years old is 15.5 years. When they project that out for the year 2080 is is 19 years. Now the age difference have more to do with economic scale. The poorer social security recipients are the sooner they die.

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  2. Good morning RJ,

    You have adhered to your Code of Conduct so I am posting your comment :).

    I'll accept the "hint of fallacy" but I think we are saying the same thing. You are just being more precise as to the reason: better understanding of diseases and treatment allows folks to live longer.

    The bottom line is the average age for a person to die in this country has increased substantially since the Social Security system and the establishment of 65 as the normal retirement age. And, that creates a few decades that must be funded so added "work" years are not unusual.

    I sincerely hope you break the family mold and live well into your 80's. My family are long-livers: mid 80's to mid 90's. AS long as I have my mind ands a decent quality of life I hope to stay on this side of heaven for as long as possible.

    I envy your woodworking ability. That is a skill I've always wished I had. Few things smell better than freshcut wood.

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  3. Thanks for the shout out, Bob.

    Next time I agree to work in retirement, I'm only going to accept something temporary or seasonal. I'm having trouble right now with an open-ended gig--trying to figure out when is the right time to return to full-time retirement. I kind of wish it wasn't up to me to decide . . .

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  4. Hi Syd,

    You are welcome for the mention. I enjoyed the piece.

    Isn't it terrible to be so good at what you do and so needed that you can't easily re-retire? There are benefits, though. I remember pictures from your recent vacation to the Big island of Hawaii.

    Seriously, do what is best for Sydney when the time is right. Obviously you have the ability to re-enter the workforce at a time of your choosing and under conditions you prefer.

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  5. So I think you might like to see the woman who is a personal trainer at 74, on my blog post today. What an inspiration she is. She didn't start exercising herself until she turned 56.
    I like your upbeat attitude about finding work in your retirement years. There are always options. My ideal would be something online that gives you the flexibility to travel around the world.

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  6. Morning Sonia,

    The trainer I saw didn't look nearly that good, and he was probably 10 years younger. She is an inspiration.

    On line work would be my preference, too, for exactly the same reason. All you need is a laptop and the Internet. I do enjoy the tour guide work but that isn't something that I want to still be doing at 70.

    Hopefully your book will catch on and you can live the life of a successful writer, at home anywhere in the world!

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  7. What an interesting post for me to read on my second day of retirement! I've been away from reading my favorite blogs this last week, what with all the retirement and graduation events, and an out of town trip, so I have just been catching up.

    I enjoyed your last post about good manners on blogs. Those are good guidelines for all communications, as you say. I have not really had any problem on my blog with rude comments. Like you, I welcome respectful debate.

    Anyway, I have nothing profound to offer. Just wanted to let you know I'm enjoying getting caught up on your blog.

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  8. Hi Galen,

    Welcome to the world of the newly retired. File the information in this post away for sometime in the future. For now, relax, take deep, cleansing breaths, and wallow in your freedom!

    Thanks for being a regular and your support. Often I have nothing profound to say, but I still must write 600 words!

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  9. I went back to work for my former employer, again, about a month age. this was after two years of full retirement (not workin' a lick). Didn't do it out of financial necessity; just couldn't pass up the money they were willing to pay me. Hate to admit it, but I was starting to miss the ability to earn money, especially in this weird economy If you go to my blog you can see some of the issues I've been dealing with ( in a humorous way), about being a probation officer again, after a thirty year career in Corrections. Mind numbing. The big issue for me and work is finding the proper balance: how many hours a week? Also re-discovered why i retired seven years ago at age 57, I hated work! Good post and timely for us old retired guys :)

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  10. Good morning Hansi,

    I think this is your first comment. If so, welcome!

    I understand the motivations that "forced" you back to work. If someone called me to consult their radio station, I'd probably say "Yes" even though it has been 10 years since I did that type of work. It is hard to walk away from someone's willingness to use your skills again.

    Balance is the key, isn't it? Sydney's comment above talks about that very same thing...how to go back to work but not let that work take over like it did back in the old days.

    Since I'm heavily involved in prison ministry I'm anxious to take a look at your blog. My limited interaction with probation officers has all been very positive. That's a tough job dealing with damaged people.

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  11. Dave and GutsyWriter, one reason I love online work is nobody cares how old you are! I can write blog articles on my health blog, which is for all ages, and nobody knows I turned 60 this year:) I love writing and will probably do it til I can't manage the keyboard anymore. It keeps my brain sharp.

    My husband is facing retirement in a year or two from his second career and he's thinking of doing some woodworking. He's loved it all his life but never had the time to devote to it. I'm going to market what he makes on Etsy.com or some handmade artist's sites. He plans to keep it small so we can travel.

    For those who like to travel, there is a whole area out there for RVers called Workamping. You can live in your RV and work in various locations for however many months of the year you'd like. Some work is volunteer, some paid, some jobs provide free space rent for your RV.

    Love the new look of your blog, Bob!

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  12. Hi Joan,

    I may be 62, but in my mind I'm still in my late 40's....I can relate Joan.

    Fascinating info about the RV group. I will definitely check that out.

    Thanks for the comment about the blog redesign. I'm happy with it, too. I'll leave it alone for awhile.

    Speaking of traveling, we're headed to the mountains with the whole family for a long weekend. I'm late. I've got to shut this computer down...Now!

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  13. I think I agree with the saying "Age is just a number." I think mentally and physically, I feel like I'm about in my late 40's too.

    Hope you had fun in the mountains. We're visiting in Oregon right now so I can get my "mountain fix."

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  14. Hi Joan,

    We had to evacuate at 12:30 AM as a giant wildfire came within 8 miles of town and was moving at 1 mile an hour. We got everyone and everything out safely and drove all night, arriving home at 5:30. Several Eastern Arizona towns are threatened by this monster storm.

    Today, I'm feeling my age!

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