- The secret to a secure retirement is not retiring at all
- Retirement is aging
- We need to reboot retirement—again
- 15 Part-Time Jobs For Retirees
- Teacher or tutor
- Customer service
- Do what you did before retirement, just less of it
- Researcher for universities, businesses
- Government jobs
- Monetize skills and hobbies
- Sell online, but not the way you think
- Pet sitter or house sitter
- Usher, ticket taker or museum guide
- Courier, light deliveries
- Direct sales
- Temp worker
- Medical billing/coding specialist
- Learn more:
- The Early Retirement Dilemma: To Work Or Not To Work?
- Why Do People Retire When They Do?
- The Problem with Early Retirement
- Longer Full-Time Careers May Not Be Possible for All
- Non-Traditional Jobs for Retirement Security
The secret to a secure retirement is not retiring at all
Retirement is due for an overhaul.
A new white paper from Aegon, a Dutch insurer and asset manager, points out we now spend more years in retirement than in childhood. Not working for a third of your life is expensive, and unrealistic for most people.
It’s no wonder many soon-to-be retirees are overwhelmed by the financial burden.
Our current retirement expectations were designed for a different era, when people didn’t live as long and, if they were lucky, someone else paid them a pension.
The solution to a secure, fruitful, worry-free retirement is simple: work longer. Because the market is volatile and no one knows how long they will live, living off of investment income can be stressful.
Income from work, however, provides predictable income and make savings go farther.
But before we encourage everyone to longer work, even blue collar workers, we must convince employers to hire older workers, and some of them won’t.
Retirement is aging
The current conception of retirement evolved from the latter industrial revolution when governments started to offer pension benefits in the 19th century. Before, people worked until they died or were too weak to keep working. If they did retire, they relied on their families.
The modern idea of retiring to enjoy healthy years after employment was created to fit an industrial work force, and the original employer-provided pensions became popular in the first half of 20th century in part because they were a means for employers to usher out older workers.
Employers valued a long tenure from workers and got it by keeping them tied to a job in their prime years by offering the security of a pension, then used the pension’s benefit formulas to phase workers out as they aged and became less productive in physically grueling jobs. The benefit rules meant employers could decide when their workers retired. But as traditional pensions went away, so did the employers’ control.
This leaves today’s employers in a pickle. While older employees have lots of experience and wisdom, they tend to cost more because they have accumulated years of salary increases.
A culture that fetishizes youth means employers may assume older workers are more rigid, less creative and unable to quickly learn new technology.
Many employers still want to retire their older workers, but they no longer have the same financial leverage they had with pensions.
The situation creates new vulnerability for soon-to-be retirees who may be laid off or pushed into an early retirement. A joint report from ProPublica and the Urban Institute estimates 56% of Americans over age 50 will experience some form of involuntary job loss. When older workers lose their job they face more months of unemployment and often take jobs that pay significantly less money.
The risk of job loss may pose an even bigger risk that whatever happens to the stock market. Adding to their anxiety, workers today who rely on 401(K)s for retirement savings also must work longer because, un traditional pensioners, their costs of retirement are transparent and borne by individuals.
While people need to work longer, they need institutions that make it possible. Age discrimination is illegal in America, but employers finds ways around it.
We need to reboot retirement—again
Rebooting retirement requires a rethink of work and education. Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, professors of management and economic, teamed up to write, 100 Year Life, a book that offers ideas on how to keep older workers vital and in demand well into old age.
They suggest never retiring (though they are open to work sabbaticals for all ages), constant re-education, and a new mind set around work.
This may only sound realistic for white-collar workers, but even blue-collar workers can re-train and transition into less physically demanding part-time jobs in the service sector. Many of them have no choice.
We must stop thinking of retirement as a binary state, where either you work full time or not at all. Instead we can think of work as something slowly, perhaps never, phased out. Workers well into their 50s and 60s are under tremendous financial pressure to both pay their current expenses and make up for years of under-saving for retirement.
Instead, if we accept the concept of part-time work for well into our 70s, it means less financial stress when we’re younger. Part-time work is also more appealing for employers because they can pay older workers less.
If part-time salaried work is not an option, gig or contract work offers another possibility, because it offers the flexibility many new retirees and employers crave.
Evidence shows staying in the job can even prolong your life. A survey from Flexwork finds 70% of near-retirees say they need to keep working after they retire, but 60% of them say they also want to work. Work offers retirees socialization and a sense of purpose.
In some ways it is a return to a pre-industrial version of work, where no one every completely retires. But instead of toiling until the end, the knowledge tech economy offers ways to remain vital and valuable, well beyond 65.
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15 Part-Time Jobs For Retirees
There are many reasons people stay in the workforce after they “retire.” Most people do it for the money, according to a December 2019 study by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Maybe they haven’t saved enough for retirement, they need the group insurance benefits or they feel uncertain about what the future holds for Social Security.
Other people continue working after retirement simply because they enjoy it, it keeps them active, gives them a sense of purpose and helps them stay socially connected. Whatever the reason, 55 percent of workers plan to work in retirement, the Transamerica Center survey shows.
The coronavirus pandemic is bleeding some businesses, such as shopping malls and retail stores, where retirees could find part-time work.
It’s also forcing more 55-and-over workers to retire, says Dick Dawson, a career and retirement specialist at Career Curve in Cleveland, Ohio.
“We’re seeing people jump into retirement sooner than they had planned. They’re getting laid off because of COVID-19,” he says.
But the pandemic is also opening up more opportunities for retirees to work part time from home, says Renee Ward, founder of Seniors4Hire.org, a career center for people 50 and older. “I get a request every day for legitimate work-at-home positions. Older workers are prime for these kinds of positions,” Ward says, who notes that retirees are more tech-savvy than they get credit for.
“It’s a myth that the senior crowd is not or cannot be taught to be technologically savvy. This group is on , FaceTime, email, Zoom, dating sites, and just about every platform out there.”
Before you begin your job search, decide on the work schedule you want, how much responsibility you’re willing to accept and how much money you want to make. “Really define what you want to do,” Ward says. “Narrow your focus and be very targeted.”
If you want to work part time, still enjoy retirement and be able to stash some cash in your savings account, here are 15 part-time jobs for retirees. Many offer remote or work-from-home opportunities.
Teacher or tutor
Many organizations need class instructors. For enrichment (not-for-credit) classes, oftentimes the only credential you need is experience. Try the local college or university, arts center or parks and recreation center.
Or, start your own teaching program your skills and interests. A retired law enforcement worker, for example, might find work teaching personal safety courses or driver’s education.
If you have the skills and experience, you can tutor students in math or English. Connect with your local school district to get started.
Many companies hire people with specific skills just for certain projects. Other organizations, especially those that are downsizing, look for freelancers to fill gaps in their staff.
Online bidding sites, such as PeoplePerHour.com, can help retirees find this kind of work.
A simple savings calculator will help you gauge your potential earnings.
Many older workers can find “help desk” jobs that require the kind of knowledge they have amassed over a lifetime of work. FlexJobs.com, for example, lists numerous companies that hire remote customer service representatives. Amazon, DocuSign, Humana and State Farm are just a few.
Do what you did before retirement, just less of it
Many professional positions allow for a phased retirement, in which you work fewer hours each year over several years.
Or, maybe you can switch to a permanent, part-time job with your former employer. Someone who had a career in public relations, for example, might find a part-time job with a former client.
Researcher for universities, businesses
Information gathering is a skill that is useful in many fields such as medicine, science, politics and technology. For example, there are researchers who help scholars find and collect the data they need to complete academic projects.
Maybe you’ve worked as an investigative reporter, done research at a university or collected data for a political organization. You can use your ability to delve for information in a variety of industries.
Federal government agencies have seasonal and part-time work. Visit USAjobs.gov to start. Being a military veteran is a big plus when it comes to landing a federal job.
Governments offer a wide array of part-time opportunities, from clerical to grounds maintenance. You may find appropriate work in state, county and city governments.
Take advantage of the best mortgage rates to make your home purchase as affordable as possible.
Monetize skills and hobbies
Think about what you’re good at and try to find a way to make money doing it. If you’re handy around the house, you may find work helping people unstop their sinks, put together bookshelves or hang pictures.
“People don’t necessarily want to do the same work they did prior to retiring,” says Carisa Miklusak, CEO and founder of tilr, a fully automated job recruiting company. “Most are drawn to positions where they can interact with others or participate in a hobby they can enjoy.”
If you’re good with a needle, you could alter clothes or fix torn hems. Maybe you love to cook. You could cater special events or sell your products seasonally.
Sell online, but not the way you think
You know you can sell your prized doll collection on eBay or use Craigslist to get rid of your furniture. But to build a sustainable source of income, you need to establish a web presence around an area of expertise and then sell ad space and related items.
For example, the website Everything About RVing was started by a retiree and recreational vehicle enthusiast who built the site as a hobby. When the recession hit his retirement savings hard, he focused on turning the site into a profitable business. And it worked.
Pet sitter or house sitter
Tending to other people’s pets while they’re on vacation or away on business can be a great gig for retirees who love critters.
Word of mouth is a good way to get started. Let your family and friends know that you’re available to pet-sit or house-sit. Post a flyer on a community bulletin board. Or explore working part time at a business that cares for animals. There are also apps that match pet owners with people with sitters.
Don’t limit your services to dog duties, as you may be needed to look after cats, birds, fish, hamsters or other household pets.
If you speak a foreign language, you may be able to get a flexible, part-time job as a translator or interpreter. Customer service centers, courts and social service agencies often need people with these skills.
Translators work with the written word, whereas an interpreter translates what is being spoken. Being bilingual will give you an edge for many jobs.
Usher, ticket taker or museum guide
Many performing arts centers and local theaters use part-time workers to show audience members to their seats, collect tickets or sell beverages and snacks.
Or maybe you have a background in art history and would make a good museum guide.
The arts offer opportunities for entertaining, flexible part-time jobs for those who have the passion and the people skills.
Courier, light deliveries
Retirees can make extra money shopping for and delivering groceries, medicines, gift baskets and other items. The coronavirus pandemic put companies such as Instacart, DoorDash and Shipt in hiring mode.
A law office or other nearby business nearby may need someone to mail or hand-deliver documents. Or maybe you know people who don’t drive and are willing to pay someone to grocery shop, run errands or take them to appointments.
“Part-time and gig work can be a great way to earn some extra income in retirement, keep your mind sharp or even just to get the house and socialize with others,” says tilr’s Miklusak, who says many retirees enjoy working, “but aren’t interested in signing up for the 9-to-5 grind.”
Companies such as Mary Kay, Avon, Pampered Chef and Amway often recruit retirees because the work can be done from home and sales representatives can make their own schedule.
With a phone, computer, internet access and minimal startup costs, you could earn a few hundred bucks a month selling products online or by hosting parties.
Select a product you and would use and make sure the company is reputable. Before you sign on, ask whether the company buys back unsold products that are in good condition – just in case you decide this is not for you.
“Some of the most popular flexible jobs for retirees are banquet serving, greeting, landscaping, data entry, back-end retail or even seasonal work designing or delivering gift baskets,” Miklusak says.
One good way to find those jobs is through temporary staffing companies known as temp agencies, which connect their clients with qualified temporary hires.
Temp agencies offer a variety of positions — office jobs, health care work, skilled labor positions and much more — and can be a good path to a permanent job, if that’s your goal.
Temp work also gives workers and businesses a chance to see if the arrangement is a good fit before making a commitment.
Medical billing/coding specialist
This is a job perfectly suited to working from home on a computer. Certified medical billing specialists need a high school diploma and a postsecondary certificate, in addition to computer, clerical and customer service skills.
These workers code patient diagnoses and request payment from insurance companies or other sources. They may also organize patient records and bills and set up payment plans for patients.
Featured image by Tyler Olson of Shutterstock.
The Early Retirement Dilemma: To Work Or Not To Work?
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Many Americans on the cusp of retirement are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. They have too little saved, but they can’t keep working full time as long as they might want—or need.
Retirement advice typically focuses on the savings end of this dilemma. Experts implore workers to stash away anything they can—typically up to 15% of their pay—in an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an individual retirement account (IRA) as soon as they start earning paychecks.
That admonition is less useful for older workers, who have much less time to benefit from compounding returns.
That brings us to the working part of the dilemma. Financial advisors often recommend older savers stay on the job as long as possible so they can keep earning a paycheck and delay starting Social Security benefits.
But many older workers face health problems, have a spouse or family member who needs their full-time attention or have been laid off. Many claim Social Security as early as possible—age 62—tying themselves to lower monthly payments and a potentially lower standard of living. Some think it’s their only option.
There’s a middle way, however, that’s worth considering: Work part time, and forget about your full-time, salaried position.
Why Do People Retire When They Do?
The choice of when to retire is often determined by forces greater than ourselves.
Take Covid-19, which has been particularly harmful for older Americans.
The labor force participation rate for those older than 65 and not disabled dropped by almost 10% between February and October of 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Tens of thousands of seniors left the workforce and aren’t looking for new employment. Compare this to just over 2% of those between the ages of 24 and 54 who left the workforce over the same time period.
One such person, per CNBC Make It, was Doug Sheehan, who quit his job in the hotel industry at age 63, when the pandemic struck, to be close with his family. This was two years earlier than he had been planning to retire. Sheehan said the decision was costly, but ultimately he’s muddling along.
People Sheehan make complicated decisions about their retirement all the time. In a 2018 Transamerica survey, for instance, one 65-year-old female respondent said she stopped working to care for her grandchildren so their mother could work. A man called it quits at age 63 because he could no longer stand the grind while a 70-year-old was laid off during a cutback.
All in all, about a third of respondents retired when they’d been planning to while 56% retired earlier than they’d envisioned. The other 10% or so are still working.
The Problem with Early Retirement
Looked at from a certain angle, this isn’t terrible news. People are free to choose what’s best for them, and maybe we have unrealistic expectations about how smooth a transition to retirement ought to be.
Where it gets tricky is how you plan to pay for the last quarter of your life. After all, a relatively healthy non-smoking 60-year-old can expect to live another 25 years or so on average. Do you really have enough saved for a quarter century of retirement?
Just 55% of households helmed by someone between the ages of 55 and 64 has a retirement account, according to the Federal Reserve, which is actually down from 64% in 2004. The average amount they have stashed away is just $134,000, hardly enough to replace a fraction of the average pre-retirement annual income for decades.
Most retirees depend on Social Security for about half of their household retirement income. Pensions and retirement savings account for 16% of retirement household income, and other savings constitute 6%. The remaining 25% of average retirement household earnings comes from work, either from the retiree or another member of the household.
But here’s the rub: Social Security payments get larger the longer you wait to begin receiving checks. In fact, the average benefit rises by about 8% each year you delay until payments become mandatory at age 70. By leaving the workforce earlier than planned and starting Social Security, you bake in lower payments from the very income stream you’ll depend on most.
Longer Full-Time Careers May Not Be Possible for All
The obvious solution to low savings—hold on to your full-time job as long as possible—may ring hollow to some.
A recent University of Wisconsin research paper looks into what would happen if the early retirement age were raised from 62 to 64. According to the paper, blue collar workers would respond by working a bit longer but also applying for disability insurance in greater numbers.
That means many people may not be capable of working longer, due to the stresses of a taxing job. Today half of blue collar workers apply for Social Security as soon as possible.
By increasing the early retirement age by two years, 65% of blue collar workers would retire at 64 while disability insurance usage would rise by six percentage points.
That suggests many people have the capacity to keep working, at least a bit longer, if they were properly incentivized.
Non-Traditional Jobs for Retirement Security
A new study from Boston College shows just how powerful such motivation can be.
Take someone who is between 61 and 62, is way behind on their savings and stops working. Rather than being able to replace almost three-quarters of their pre-retirement income with Social Security, savings and the —the amount estimated they’ll need to maintain their same standard of living—they’ll only be able to replace half, making it challenging to get by in retirement.
But if that person took a job, even if it offered no benefits—a so-called nontraditional job—and worked for six years, they’d be able to retire with income that replaced nearly 70% of their pre-retirement income, largely thanks to delaying claiming Social Security.
That means a burnt out accountant, sick of the daily grind, could still call it quits. Instead of hoping everything works out for the best, they could take a part-time gig, perhaps closer to home and with less stress. Maybe they could try freelancing. In any event, they have more options than they might realize.
“Workers who do not feel capable of maintaining their career job, or who desire more flexibility and autonomy, can take heart that even a nontraditional job can bring them closer to their retirement goals,” suggests the Boston College study.
Some will simply not be able to do even that. But others might, and if you can, it’s an amazing opportunity to make up for years of lost savings. It can mean staying in your home rather than moving in with your children.
By putting in an extra few years, you can gain decades of financial freedom.