For Some, Retirement and Work Don't Mix

MusingsAs much as we Boomers like to believe we have reinvented retirement, there are some forces we are pushing hard against with limited success. The reality of the American job market, lack of sufficient retirement savings, and other challenges are vexing for Boomers who want to work in their retirement years.

Each year for the past eighteen years, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) has a retirement survey of American workers. This year's survey results, published in December 2017, reveal some interesting and, in some cases, troubling attributes of aging Boomers. Some key findings of the survey:

  • Only 26 percent of Boomers plan to immediately stop working and retire when they reach what they consider to be retirement age. Already, two-thirds of them are working or plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire, and 54 percent plan to continue working after they retire.
  • 38 percent of Boomers expect Social Security to be their primary source of income when they retire, while 39 percent expect that primary source to be retirement savings.
  • The median savings of all household retirement accounts for Boomers is $164,000.
  • Only 42 percent of Boomers are keeping their skills up to date so they can continue to work past 65.
  • Only 28 percent of Boomers have a backup plan for retirement income if they're unable to work prior to their planned retirement.

Next Avenue's Richard Eisenberg did an excellent analysis of the survey with some pertinent comments from Catherine Collinson, the president of the TCRS, and helpful suggestions.

In addition to Boomers, the TCRS survey studied two other generations, Millennials and Gen Xers. You can get a copy of the survey results by downloading a PDF from the link below.

Download TCRS2017


Work Alternatives for Boomers

OnaWhimIt is demoralizing being a Boomer with a legitimate skill set who is turned away from traditional employment. Too many Boomers are prematurely let go simply because they have become a financial liability to a company. Boomers, after all, typically must be paid higher salaries and their benefits are more expensive -- at least that is the rationale used to dump a Boomer. The Boomer's superior experience, demonstrated expertise, work record, and loyalty to the company suddenly become immaterial.

The Boomer in search of a new job is likely to face an uphill battle. Sure, there are plenty of "Help Wanted" signs on retail store and fast food chain windows, but that is a minimum-wage desperation move for many Boomers, not to mention a loss of dignity for some. Is it any wonder, then, that some Boomers give up on the traditional job market altogether?

That is one reason the "gig economy" is flourishing. Getting a gig is easier than getting a job. It requires a minimal commitment on the part of the listing company, who gets work for hire at a contract price without paying a salary, doling out benefits, or hassling with taxes and workman's compensation insurance. The level of commitment on the part of the "gigger" is equally low, although quality work executed on time is required to secure repeat engagements. Gigs may also be even more desirable in 2018 because of the new tax reform bill, which essentially rewards self-employed individuals.

Despite potential pitfalls, gigs seem to be a pretty good way for Boomers to generate part-time income. Gigs can be particularly attractive because you can work independently and set your own schedule. You may not make a ton of money, but gigs can provide solid supplemental income to retirement savings and Social Security payments.

Getting started with gigs is relatively easy. Here are two articles published by The Balance that will jump start your efforts:

Freelance Jobs You Can Work from Home

15 Side Jobs to Make Some Extra Money

Happy gigging!

Happy New Year Sale - 50% Off Couples in Business eBook

LMMH book cover-jpg BooksIf you've ever thought about going into business with your spouse, you need to read Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business. The book has received excellent reviews from book reviewers and readers alike. It tells the story of how a Boomer couple started a small service business and sold it seven years later. You'll find plenty of advice about what to do and what not to do when starting a business with your spouse. Included are details about planning, financing, outfitting, and launching a service business, as well as operations, marketing, sales, customer service, and managing growth. Useful tools to help couples assess their business interests and business compatibility are also included. 

From December 25, 2017 through January 1, 2018, Happily Rewired is offering the eBook edition of Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business at half price -- just $3.50 -- if you order it through Smashwords. You can get the book in any format for any device, including a PDF. 

To get your copy at half-price, simply go to:  When you place your order, enter the code SEY50 and you'll pay just $3.50 instead of the regular price of $6.99. This offer is only good from December 25, 2017 through January 1, 2018 at Smashwords so order today!

Why Phased Retirement is Elusive

MusingsWill the new year be the time when you decide that you'd like to phase out of your full-time job? You can dream, but apparently, it isn't so easily done. While "phased retirement" sounds as if it would be a win-win for both employer and employee, the reality is that gradually phasing out of a full-time job is a concept most U.S. employers are not widely endorsing, at least not yet.

A recent article about phased retirement in U.S. News cites a sobering statistic: Only 6 percent of employers offer a formal phased retirement program. What's more, only 11 percent of Boomers gradually retired from their jobs, according to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report. The article goes on to discuss six challenges of phased retirement:

  1. Negotiating the arrangement
  2. Qualifying for health insurance
  3. A reduction in retirement benefits
  4. Getting a 401(k) match
  5. Unplanned phased retirement
  6. Justifying your reduced schedule.

Challenge number six gets to the heart of the matter. According to Emily Brandon, author of the article, "Those who want to gradually retire may need to prove their continued value by being a consistent high performer, staying up to date with innovations in the field and learning how to use new technology. It can help if you are willing to mentor younger employees and pass on your acquired skills and institutional knowledge."

What it really amounts to is convincing an employer that a phased retirement is not just good for you, but good for the company. Unless an employer believe you and enthusiastically embraces the idea, resigning may be the only real option to retiring from a full-time job.

Read the entire informative article here:


Channel Your Norman Lear

MusingsIn early December 2017, Norman Lear was a Kennedy Center Honoree at the 40th annual national celebration of the arts. While Norman Lear doesn't qualify as a Boomer (he was born in 1922), this comedic genius has undoubtedly had an impact on all of our lives. He is perhaps best known as the creator of the hit TV show, "All in the Family," which famously exposed the narrow-minded but hysterically funny logic of one Archie Bunker to viewers all across the country. That was not his only television breakthrough, however; Lear created such significant shows as "Maude," "Sanford and Son," "Good Times," and "The Jeffersons."

Lear did not restrict his expansive thinking to the entertainment business. He also founded the non-profit organization, People for the American Way, as well as the Business Enterprise Trust, the Norman Lear Center at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, and the Environmental Media Association. Along with his wife, Lear purchased one of the few surviving copies of the Declaration of Independence and then took it on a tour of all fifty states so Americans could see it. At the same time, he launched a nonpartisan youth voter initiative that accounted for registering over four million new young voters.

Lear published his autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience, in 2014. The book offers some insight into Lear's philosophy of life and how, despite his own challenges, he succeeded.

Norman Lear continues to be active and engaged at age 95. An iconoclast, he is always seen wearing his distinguishing trademark, a white hat (which he even wore to the Kennedy Center). Few of us can hope to achieve what Lear has accomplished (and is still accomplishing) in his lifetime, but what a great model for all Boomers. Lear demonstrates that advancing in age need not be a barrier to living a full life. 

Your Child as Your Business Partner

OnYourOwnFor some Boomers, the dream of owning a business is a family affair. I have first-hand knowledge of this: My wife and I started a small service business together after we left our professional careers. We wrote a book about it: Let's Make Money, Honey: The Couple's Guide to Starting a Service Business. While not all couples have the ability to work together, we found it to be a good fit for us and a great experience.

Here's a different spin on starting a family business: Taking the plunge with your adult child. A recent article in The New York Times explores this possibility and cites a few relevant examples of Boomers who made working with their children work. There are solid reasons such an arrangement can be successful. For one thing, Boomer parents seem to have better relationships with their adult children than previous generations. For another, adult children ages 18 to 34 are more likely to live in their parents' homes, making working together a natural next step.

There is a practical aspect to a parent-child business proposition, writes Christopher Farrell: "Age discrimination can be a major hurdle to employment for those 50 years and over. At the same time, young people can find it tough to land a job that’s engaging and offers a career path. For both age cohorts, starting a business can often be a better alternative." Another nice benefit: If the business is successful, the Boomer never has to worry about a succession plan; the adult child simply takes over when the Boomer is ready to retire.

A Boomer-adult child business relationship is just one more way Boomers are redefining our retirement years.


Is Consulting for You?

OnYourOwnI remember a time when a professional became a "consultant" for a brief period of time while looking for full-time work; sometimes, in fact, "consultant" was a code word on a resume for "on my own until something better comes along." Nowadays, however, consulting is not only a legitimate career path for the self-employed, it is also a viable second career for older professionals.

There are numerous potential benefits to becoming an independent consultant, not the least of which is the very word "independent." Benefits include the potential to earn high income, setting your own schedule, and re-purposing skills you already have and expertise you developed during your first career.

Still, consulting isn't a "slam dunk" for everyone. Writing for, Jonathan Dison, author of the book The Consulting Economy, has some sound advice for you before you consider plunging into the world of consulting. He talks about four lessons he wished he had learned before he became a consultant:

  1. Trust is everything
  2. Become indispensable
  3. Know the skills that are in demand
  4. Know your tax write-offs as a consultant

This article is a must-read if you're considering becoming a consultant. If you'd like a copy of Jonathan's book, you can purchase it directly from Amazon below.

Avoiding the Cash Crunch in Retirement

OnaWhimWhether you opt for part-time or full-time retirement, you'll realize very quickly that the lower your retirement income, the more you'll have to adjust your lifestyle. Americans are notorious for spending as much as, if not more than, they earn, which is why a majority of older Americans have simply not saved enough for retirement.

If you are not quite ready to retire but you're concerned about the adjustments it might mean to your lifestyle, one strategy you can follow is establishing a budget that constrains your expenses as if you're retired before you retire. The idea is to treat retirement as a kind of "test run," since your budget for expenses will ultimately have to mesh with retirement income that is likely to be quite a bit less than what you earn as a full-time employee. Living within a retirement budget before you actually retire could also give you some idea of what kinds of compromises you may have to make -- or what amount of income in addition to Social Security payments and retirement plan payouts you may have to earn if you want to maintain a certain lifestyle. One thing will probably be true for most retirees: your retirement budget will need to reflect the reality of reduced income.

Trey Smith offers a nice explanation of this strategy in an article he wrote for For example, Smith discusses the need to isolate work-related expenses, which will be eliminated in retirement, and view all other expenses as personal expenses that can be adjusted. He also discusses expense areas that need special attention, such as car payments, housing costs, and travel. By carefully analyzing expenses and learning to live within a retirement-style budget while you're employed, Smith, says, "you’ll have a better understanding of whether you’ll need to make adjustments because you’ve seen what it’s like to live the retirement life."

Read the interesting reader comment below.

Boomers Serving the Boomer Market

OnYourOwnThe notion of being your own boss has great appeal for a growing percentage of Boomers who want to continue to work but on their own terms. Self-employment offers you freedom, flexibility and, potentially, higher income than a traditional and sometimes menial job.

Of all the self-employment options available to Boomers, one of the more intriguing ideas may be to concentrate your efforts on a business that actually serves Boomers. Due to the aging of America, services for those 65 and older are booming. As a result, the "longevity economy" could spell opportunity for an enterprising Boomer, according to Kiplinger. Contributing editor Susan Garland writes, "The inclination of many older individuals to take advice and help from their peers offers aging boomers a big advantage in the growing senior-oriented market. Just think of a service or product that you or your aging parents could use, and it may be a niche that you can fill."

Garland cites as examples a number of Boomers who have entered the market with services targeting the senior set. CPA Barbara Green started a business helping older Americans deal with "their day-to-day financial affairs." Freelance writer Cristina Pastor works part-time as a dementia-care coach. Psychologist Eloise Stiglitz started her own retirement coaching business. Tavis Schriefer came up with a novel way to screen calls from telephone scammers that resulted in a new business designed to protect the elderly.

Imagine what your parents have needed as they age, or what you will need as you advance in age, and there is probably a service opportunity awaiting you. Potential service areas include healthcare, finance, personal shopping, cooking, home safety, specialized organizational services, downsizing consultation, and more. In many cases, older clients will feel much more at ease dealing with a business owner who is older himself or herself.

If you've ever considered striking out on your own, don't overlook an audience segment you already know a lot about -- Boomers like you!

Slowly, the Older Worker Market Improves

OntheClockWhile the nation's unemployment rate continues to be low, the unemployment rate among workers 55-plus is deceiving. That's partly because those older workers who are employed may be working part-time when they really want to work full-time. There is some good news for older workers, though: An overall low unemployment rate means companies may be loosening up their hiring practices and offering positions to more mature individuals.

According to AARP, CVS, United Health Group, AT&T, and The Hartford are four examples of companies that are actively recruiting older workers. CVS, for example, promotes positions through an initiative the corporation calls "Talent Is Ageless." Almost one-quarter of CVS employees are over 50 years of age, and older workers are matched with younger, less experienced peers to offer them valuable guidance. The Hartford, through "The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence," actively seeks employees from senior centers and retirement communities.

AARP is encouraging companies to join in. The AARP Employer Pledge Program is a national effort to help employers solve their current and future staffing challenges and direct job seekers to employers that value and are hiring experienced workers. Working with AARP, participating organizations have signed a pledge that they:

  • Believe in equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age
  • Believe that 50+ workers should have a level playing field in their ability to compete for and obtain jobs
  • Recognize the value of experienced workers
  • Recruit across diverse age groups and consider all applicants on an equal basis.

AARP also offers helpful web-based resources specifically for 50-plus workers:

It is encouraging to see at least some companies acknowledge the value of experience and maturity that older workers bring to a workplace.