Americans are living longer, which means seniors spend more time in retirement. For some, a lengthy retirement is a dream come true. More years of water aerobics and cruises – what’s not to like? But for others, the prospect of decades of idleness is not appealing. That’s why some seniors choose to work, at least part-time, to fill their days and their bank accounts.
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If you’re making good money and saving a healthy portion of your salary, you may find yourself with enough retirement income to spend your golden years in carefree gallivanting. On the other hand, you may find that even modest income from a full- or part-time job in retirement makes all the difference to your lifestyle.
We’ve all seen older folks working retail, staffing polling places and shelving books at the library. Well, get ready to see many more working seniors in the years to come. You may even end up joining them. The more debt you carry into your senior citizen years, the more desirable it can be to continue working. If you still have a mortgage or student loans to pay off when you’re in your sixties, transitioning to your post-work years is more financially risky. And remember, the government garnishes the Social Security benefits of seniors who still owe money on federal student loans.
If you want to work past the age of retirement, it’s likely that you’ll choose between continuing your job and finding a new one. Not everyone has the option of continuing to work in the same position, of course. Some people’s jobs are too physically demanding, while others have employers who would prefer to replace older workers with young blood. Some lucky folks (I’m looking at you, tenured professors) can stay at their jobs indefinitely. Others may have to consider a career re-tooling.
What should a senior look for in a job? How about something that isn’t too taxing, that the senior can do well and that offers some social and mental stimulation? That could mean working at a less demanding version of the job your were doing before you hit your mid-60’s. For example, if you’re an educator, you could continue working as a substitute teacher or a tutor. If you’re a nurse, you could work as a home health aid. You may even be able to transition to a less demanding position at the same company, keeping the same commute, office environment and coworkers.
Another option is to pursue something entirely new as a senior. You could start a business, make art or turn a hobby into a job. Or, you could work in retail and make friends with your customers and your younger co-workers. That may not seem like a glamorous option, but it can provide social stimulation, a little extra money and a reason to get out of your pajamas.
Related Article: Getting Started with Retirement Planning
Part-Time Jobs for Seniors
Not everyone wants to – or can – work full-time in retirement. Part-time jobs like babysitting or taking on consulting projects are enough to satisfy many seniors. Others may choose seasonal work in industries like tourism (being a tour guide, for example), which brings in extra money while leaving most of the year free for travel and relaxation.
Of course, there’s always retail, a sector where part-time jobs are increasingly common and older workers increasingly welcomed. Another perk of looking for part-time work in retail? Many stores offer employee discounts. If you decide to take your CV around to some local stores, start with the shops you frequent. That way, any employee discount you receive will be put to good use. If working in a customer-facing role doesn’t sound like a good fit, you may be able to find behind-the-scenes work such as staffing a stock room or balancing the books for a small business.
Traditional retail not your thing? Consider applying to museums, libraries, botanical gardens, theaters, national and state parks and historic sites that are open to the public. These institutions often need part-time workers to cope with seasonal fluctuations in visitors, or because they can’t afford to hire many full-time staff members. If you have a relevant skill or interest you can share, even better.
If you’ve saved enough for retirement and don’t need the extra income that working in retirement brings, consider volunteering. It will get you out of the house and interacting with others – always good things. Places that often look for more long-term volunteers include NGOs and cultural institutions. If retirement is still a ways off, why not try volunteering in your spare time now? That way, you can try different volunteer positions and organizations and see what you like best. When the time comes, you’ll already have contacts for your retirement volunteering.
Find out now: Calculate your Social Security income.
Social Security income, while a wonderful thing, isn’t usually enough on its own to support a life of leisure. If you’re worried that the combination of Social Security checks and your personal savings won’t be enough to ensure the lifestyle you want in retirement, consider prolonging your working years. The AARP and several other organizations offer resources for seniors looking for employment and volunteer opportunities. And don’t underestimate the power of networking when looking for a new position.
One last thing: More and more Americans say they’re planning on working past the typical retirement age. But getting a job as a senior, just like getting a job at any age, is not guaranteed. Plus, you can’t predict whether your health will allow you to work into old age. The takeaway? Just because you’re planning on working well into your seventies doesn’t mean you can put off saving for retirement. It’s a good idea to plan to hit your sixties with a healthy sum saved up, so that if you are able to keep working your earnings will be a supplement to your other retirement income. Hope for the best, plan for worst.
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