November 25, 2011

Working after Retirement...What Do You Do?

A growing number of retired folks are either working or considering that step. The reasons are as varied as we are, but generally involve either a financial  need or a desire to use skills and talents as part of their satisfying retirement. Working for a retail or service industry is often the most obvious choice. Others have decided this is the perfect time to start a business. If you missed my post on starting a business after retirement, click here.

What Do You Do?

We are all interested in what others do with their time in retirement. One of the most viewed posts I have written has been So, What Do You Do All Day? That is one of the first questions all of us ask someone we have just met: "What do you do?"  Saying, "I'm retired" will usually prompt the person to wonder how you fill your day. I'm asking that question now, specifically about working after retirement.

I'll go first. Since retiring 10 years ago to I was a part time tour guide for almost five years. This job involved taking groups of visiting business people, in town for a convention or sales seminar, horseback riding, kayaking down the Salt River, taking part in a cattle drive or biking through the dessert. It meant taking bus loads of folks to desert cookouts or fancy dinners at a 5 star resort. Often I'd be stationed at the airport greeting folks as they arrived in Phoenix and helping them get their luggage and then onto the bus to their hotel. The work was simple, paid well and had flexible hours. I was able to use my people and organizational skills and take part in activities I'd normally not be part of.

How do you generate extra retirement income?

Now, your turn.  We'd be quite interested in what you have done to re-join the work force, either full or part time. What different types of jobs have you tackled since retiring? Have you worked at a big box store, a small local retailer? Maybe it has been at a grocery store, or a delivery service. Some folks I know drive shuttle buses around town or at the airport.

Have you started your own business? That could be anything from selling some of your wood cabinets or handmade quilts, to becoming a consultant or launching a carpet cleaning company. Is it a full time or part time effort for you? How has it worked for you so far? 

Does being a volunteer count?

Importantly, the definition of working after retirement doesn't have to mean getting paid. Volunteer work can be every bit as time consuming as a paid position and an important part of a satisfying retirement lifestyle.

On the volunteer side of things I have been a tour guide at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright's home in Scottsdale. For the last few years I have been heavily involved in prison ministry, working with a Christian organization that mentors men and women both inside prison and after release. I find volunteering to be immensely fulfilling.

What have you done as a volunteer that you could share? Your experiences could easily prompt someone to become involved in their local community. Volunteering is a tremendous way to use your skills to help others and feel good, too.

Your Turn: I really want your input!

OK, now please fill up the comment box below. Tell us about what type of work you have taken on since retiring. It can be full or part time, for someone else or your own efforts to bring in more money. Have you gone back to work and then re-retired?

Has any volunteer work you have tackled been especially meaningful to you? Can you suggest ways for the rest of us to get involved and make where we live a better place?

I am looking forward to some tremendous ideas.


  1. I can offer no stellar ideas, just what is probably a common experience these days. I was forced to retire early. I made some feeble attempts to find a new job, but realized the prospects for someone in his 50s were very slim, and besides I didn't really want another fulltime staff position working 40 - 50 hrs. per week, bringing work home, shouldering responsibilities for others, worrying about office politics, promotions, the future. Fortunately, my kids were by then mostly grown and my financial obligations were easing up, so I could go to work for myself as a consultant/freelancer. I now do the work that I was doing 20 years ago, before I started in management, and I find I still enjoy it, even though it involves a much lower pay scale.

    The funny thing is, I've done work for several other companies; but to this day, almost 10 years later, I still get most of my assignments from my old company, through some of the "oldtimers" I know who still work there.

    I made a few new contacts along the way; but it's the old contacts that turned out to be the most loyal, most reliable ones.

  2. Sightings,

    I'm not surprised that your old contacts are the best source for more work. They know your abilities and work ethics and obviously trust you.

    Trying to start over in one's 50's (or older) is very difficult unless you start your own business, or are content with something part time like my guide work. I do not envy those folks who are unemployed and need to find full time work. No matter what the law says, ageism is alive and well.

  3. Upon retiring,, I went back into performing as a professional puppeteer, which had been a much needed augmentation of my low teaching salary. Now I average about two shows per month - about all that I really am interested in doing. :) More info can be found on my website:

  4. Steve,

    That sounds like fun! Plus, I bet you play the banjo a lot, based on the picture on your web site.

    Giving away a puppet with each booking is a very clever idea.

  5. I substitute teach and my husband works with wood.
    I don't think many people know how many retirees substitute teach. You do not need a teaching certificate in most states. It pays between $ 60-120 a day. You can do it while in town.... I have a select group of schools that I work for. Many teachers in the middle school leave educational movies for the kids to watch.
    I have a host of tricks to keep kids on task if anyone is interested.

  6. Janette, license to be a sub? Do you have to have any teaching experience at all? That sounds pretty sweet.

  7. Since I was "forced to quit or live a miserable existence" at work I have been home learning about how to properly manage my investments through my brokerage account. Thankfully they have a good education program. Now if the stock market will stop flaking out!

    I've also been running a small craft business on Etsy. I'm thrilled with the few sales I've had this year because it's a few extra bucks. I'm also selling parts of my book library on Amazon because the books are just collecting dust these days.

    My state of retirement is very good these days. I love being home all day and learning new things. The cost of living has dropped drastically with the new arrangement. Overall life is pretty good these days!

  8. Anonymous,

    Amen on the stock market! if anyone needs proof that the whole world is deeply connected, look at the effect of the European money problems on our situation. When China slows down...stand back!

    Learning more about investment vehicles is a very productive use of your time. Selling craft items and books on-line are excellent ideas.

    "Overall life is pretty good these days." I agree with you.

  9. I'm in training to become a certified mediator through a Dispute Resolution Center. It's a 140-hour program and I've got about 80 hours in. I'll be volunteering to mediate disputes between parents, landlords and tenants, neighbors, and folks who've come to small claims court. It requires listening and helping people talk to each other so they can find win-win solutions. I love it.

  10. Linda,

    That sounds fascinating and a much needed service. My wife and I used the mediation service in Phoenix several years ago to attempt a resolution with a next door neighbor and his barking dog. In fact, mediation is required before a claim can move forward in small claims court.

  11. Due to health problems and the sale of the company I was working for, I left the full time work force at 55 which was 7 years ago. Fortunately my husband has continued to work full time and provides our insurance. I returned to part time consulting work once my health returned and continue to do that. Right now I am focusing on increasing my income to increase our savings. I also have gotten involved in volunteering presently mostly with the friends of the library for the library I use. I am contemplating what "work" will be added to this.

  12. Juhli,

    The industry I spent so many years in has changed so much what I used to tell clients is no longer viable. I'd love to pick up an occasional consulting project, but that isn't going to happen.

    I think my best bet to pick up a little extra income is somehow connected to this blog...or selling my wife's photos on a web site or on Ebay. We're still kicking around ideas.

    I couldn't live without my library. Glad you are helping yours.

  13. I've chosen to work for the election authorities in my area which I find rewarding as I make a few extra dollars while doing my part to facilitate and promote my fellow citizens right to choose their elected representatives. It's temporary work which is great for me as it doesn't interfere too much with my world travels.

  14. Anonymous,

    Perfect addition to the post..I've never heard of such a job. I thought those folks were all volunteers. Good for you in helping folks to vote, and managing to put away some extra spending money.

  15. Well, I haven't been at this retirement business that long yet, only six months, but here's what I've been doing so far. I have continued my blog and I've written some short pieces. One story was just selected to be in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book coming out in the spring.

    I led our church's women's retreat in October, and I lead a monthly discussion group on the same topic as my blog.

    I'm active in my church and also with a nonprofit that runs the group home where my two autistic sons live.

    I watched my first two grandchildren come into the world in September and October.

    And I trained hard for my black belt test in taekwondo, which I completed earlier this month.

    Whew. I think I was less busy when I was working! I've worn myself out just reviewing the last six months. Time to get in bed with a good book.

    PS--I was busy with Thanksgiving and just caught up on your blog. Loved the last posts about being blessed and living a satisfying retirement.

  16. Galen,

    A Chicken Soup for the Soul contribution..congrats! That is a tremendous honor. Yes, you sound busy and happy. You are an excellent representative for the satisfying retirement movement (everything else has a movement, why not retirement!)

    Thanks for the compliment on the Thanksgiving piece. I do feel blessed and fortunate.