September 10, 2017

Working After Retirement: Not All That Unusual Anymore


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 become a part of life for many. 

Retirement does not mean the end of producing income through some form of work. But, what is happening is a noticeable shift in the percentage of those over 65 working at least part time. The most recent figures show that almost 20% work full or part-time. That is the highest level since the recession of 2008-2009.


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 or even 100+ is not all that unusual. The number of years a recent retiree must support him or herself has increased over the last several decades. So, to retire and then begin to rework is becoming more common and necessary for many.

What is also slowly changing is the attitude among many employers. While some younger workers may have problems working with older folks, 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. 

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.


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. Amazon hires tens of thousands of seasonal workers to help fulfill online orders at their centers located all over the country.

What about being a tour guide? I did that for several years. It was fun, put me in contact with lots of people, wasn't strenuous, and paid well.  Are you an early riser? Newspapers are still 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?  

Betty and I have used the Uber ride service a few times over the last several months. At least half our drivers have been over 55. One of our friends is a traveling nurse. She works for 2 to 4 months in a location, hooks up her RV, and she and her husband are off to another clinic or hospital wanting part time help.

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 a dream vacation and then stop working. After the vacation or time off, rejoin the work force for awhile,  then go off on another adventure. An unexpected batch of medical bills lends itself to this approach, too. 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.

If you think working again might be right for you but aren't sure what to do, the web site Fifty Best After Retirement Business ideas has some excellent suggestions. 

One caution: remember that before your full retirement age (probably 66) there is a limit to how much you can earn before Social Security benefits are reduced. After that age, you are free to earn as much as you can with no reduction.

You can also contribute to a traditional IRA until age 70 1/2  or a Roth IRA at any age. If you don't need all the extra money earned while working, this is a good way to pad your retirement accounts.

Personally, I am pleased to see working after retirement is a very viable possibility for many. The desire to remain productive, be part of a group of people working together, and providing extra financial support help make this stage of life more satisfying. It can open up opportunities for travel and personal growth or support for other family members. Not all of us want to return to a lifestyle we happily left, but having that option is good.

  

26 comments:

  1. We are the only couple we know IRL who are not working, at least part time. Most of our friends plan to work until, at least, 66 and most say 70. Most have the basic money to retire, but choose to stay in the workforce. The jobs my friends have: receptionists at medical facilities, travel agents, real estate brokers, substitute teachers, community college teachers, consultants (in their previous industries), handy man, mechanic. They feel like they are 50 instead of 63+. We have to remind ourselves that 67 is on the slope of, "you need to get done what you want to, now!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Based on your circle of acquaintances, maybe the figure of 20% working is too low. The list of the jobs, though, seems to fit nicely with what I know about the working-retired or those who could retire but choose not to.

      Delete
    2. I would like Janet to clarify, her quote "you need to get done what you want to, now!" because at 67 one is on a slope. Does she mean it's hard to obtain employment at 67, or does she mean death is near? I hope not the latter. Many have a lot left in the tank at 67. At age 67, one could have almost two decades left. Think positive.

      Delete
    3. My guess would be at 67 we have more behind us than ahead of us, so there is no time to waste. If that is the purpose of her quote then I'd view that as realistic, not negative.

      Delete
    4. That is correct Bob. Since I have lost two brothers in law and one sister in law....No time to waste.

      Delete
  2. I backed into freelance work during the 2000-01 "dot-bomb" crash, as both my investments and conventional career prospects cratered. I found that I enjoyed the independence and variety of assignments, although the feast-or-famine income caused real family financial problems. Now, however, that experience, as well as the ongoing need to keep up with business issues and technology, has me busier than ever. It's enabled me to comfortably postpone SS until 70 (I'm 67), and to add to retirement funds. As long as clients are willing to send me work, I'll probably keep at it. The only catch is that my work is really on-demand -- when they need it, they need it right away -- so it's difficult to, say, travel for a month and forget about work. And if I'm unavailable, I fall off their call-first list, sometimes permanently. Finally, I wonder if clients would be less enthusiastic if they knew how old I really am -- most guess mid-fifties (and I don't correct them!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've identified one of the downsides: the limitations that working, even part time or on-demand put on your ability to use your retirement freedom as you wish. Yet, in your case, it seems as though the tradeoffs are worth it for now. That is an individual decision we must all make if considering working into retirement years.

      Oh, and congrats on your physical condition and stamina: later 60's being perceived as 10-12 years younger.....smiles!

      Delete
  3. The primary reason we do not entertain working for a paycheck post-retirement is that we simply do not want to be held accountable or be beholden to anyone, nor ever deal again with annual reviews, or those d#*n SMART goals.

    What we do enjoy in a similar vein however, is volunteering. That gives us many of the benefits your post alludes to, but without the above pain points. As two former recovering Type A personalities, I will say it is difficult to experience organizational inefficiencies in our various capacities as volunteers and not want to fix them. Doing so might lead us right back to paid employment, however, so we refrain from doing so whenever possible!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Recovering Type A personalities...that is supposed to be me, but Betty would disagree with my progress.

      I can relate to your volunteer comment. My various stints with different organizations show a lot of what you have identified: inefficiencies just waiting to be "corrected." I start a new activity soon when I begin volunteering at the Chandler Center for the Arts. I will have to keep my organizational drive in check. Meanwhile, continuing work with United Way and Junior Achievement have had times when I had to bite my tongue!

      Delete
    2. Tamara, I love this comment. I have just retired, but I am still involved in some writing projects related to my career. I could have asked for a post retirement contract to pay me for doing these projects, but I really wanted to step away from the environment of constant evaluation and accountability. So now I work on things that I want, when I want to -- for free.

      Jude

      Delete
  4. I've been reading your blog for several years now - one of those that doesn't respond. I'm 65, husband 67, and although we are both receiving pensions and husband SS we are both busy working parttime and raising a grandchild. Life is good. I'm a registered nurse and husband is a master electrician/electrical contractor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for adding your story. It is becoming more common for retirees to do what you are doing.

      Delete
  5. Your post - "Consider that the average life expectancy was 63 years when Social Security was first created. Today, it is approaching 80."

    Don't confuse life expectancy at birth with life expectancy of a 60ish year old person. The primary reason life expectancy was much lower years ago was a high child mortality rate. Someone back then who made it into their sixties could expect to live almost as long as people today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it looks like we've gained around 4 years of life (on average) since 1950.

      "According to a report from the Stanford Center on Longevity (SCL), in 1950 a 65-year-old man could expect to live to age 78, or an additional 13 years. By 2010, a man age 65 could expect to live to age 82. A woman age 65 in 1950 could expect to live another 15 years, to age 80, but by 2010 her life expectancy was 84."

      Delete
    2. Social Security was envisioned to provide supplemental income for only a few years after a person retired since the average age of death of someone born when the program was initiated in 1935 was 63. Today, a new born will, on average, live to about 80, give or take a few years.

      Apparently my sentence in the post was not as clear as it should have been. I was referring to life expectancy from birth.

      Delete
    3. "Social Security was envisioned to provide supplemental income for only a few years after a person retired since the average age of death of someone born when the program was initiated in 1935 was 63"

      Again, Seniors aren't living much longer than before. The problem(s) with Social Security funding isn't primarily caused by longer lifespans. The SS funding issue is mostly to do with the shear number of SS recipients and the (relative) scarcity of workers to pay for them.

      Your suggestion that longer living seniors cause SS to go bankrupt is for the most part not true.

      Delete
    4. Actually I have to say tht this is partially correct, historically. Average life spans include all deaths, including infant and so on. So for example, because of poor maternal care and childhood diseases while the average age was 44 during the civil war 44 or so, I bet all of us who do genealogy will find that unless they were killed in the war, most of our ancestors lived long past 44. Where that changes however, is in the mid fifties. As someone who was born in 51, maternal care was better. However, I still had all the diseases and polio was not on the way out. Age statistics will always include the lie span of all it's citizens unless it is quantified for those who live to adulthood. Which is why someone like the Dali Lama will live to whenever, while the average age of Nepalese is middle age.

      And I do apologize for obnoxious history lecture. Feel free to leave this out. What bothers me most is not SS, but rather Medicare. When medicare rules were put in place, families lived in groups, so the need for home health care was not included. There is where I personally think the most revisiting and corrections need to be done.

      Delete
  6. Most of the people I know who work either work for socialiazation and to "keep current" or to earn fun money (usually for long term travel). One friend has a Masters in Nursing and works at as a teacher at a Nursing School. but most of the people I know who earn money actively (vs passively) do small freelance gigs from home rather than going out and getting a "job". it mainly eliminates the need for commuting and certain dress requirements. I'll mention here that depending on what kind of neighbors you have, bartering those retirement skills for other services can be a very good option. Most of the quilts I made to sell are actually traded for things from housecleaning to tax services.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My youngest daughter does some bartering, too. She trades a massage for hair styling for her and haircuts for her dog. It works out well for all parties involved.

      Delete
  7. I am 76 and still working full time. I have not really thought about retirement....I like the paycheck and like the work. It keeps me involved and challenged.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are a trendsetter! This will be the future choice of an increasing number of us.

      Delete
  8. I have recently moved to a place that is a popular retirement (and tourist) destination, and I have noticed that many of the salespeople here are seniors.

    Jude

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting observation. I wonder if it because that is the age group that applies for these jobs, or hiring seniors makes senior customers feel comfortable?

      Delete
  9. High Bob in group! I started surfing around for retirement blogs a few months back. I retired at the end of May at age 62 and a half. My three 'rules' for a retirement job were to be within 5 miles of my home (rather than the 20 I was driving), not to be in management and not to be in IT, both of which I was for the past 30 years. I recently started working with an old high school classmate who is an electrician. Quite a change from my old desk job but I'm enjoying every last minute of it! It isn't so much the money, it's more just to have the camaraderie and something worthwhile to do. My wife has a few more years before she can retire and at that point we will hop in the car and begin our bucket list trip around the country to visit national parks. That is provided there are still national parks to visit!
    I'm enjoying reading your blog and all the comments!
    Mark

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Electrician? That's great because it is so different from what you did before and probably gives you a strong sense of accomplishment. Working with an old classmate is an added bonus.

      Yes, we will all keep our fingers crossed that National Parks don't start spouting oil wells or coal mines anytime soon.

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted