On a Whim

The Retirement "Boomerang"

OnaWhim Boomerang-1027826_1920As you might expect, the concept of retirement is not for everyone. Boomers today are much less likely to traditionally "retire" than past generations. In fact, almost 40 percent of workers age 65 or above who retired "boomeranged" back to work, according to a RAND Corporation study. The challenge is that older workers often want to change careers after fifty or so years doing the same thing -- so when they return to work, it could be to a new "second career."

Author Chris Farrell has a good way of looking at it -- as a "sabbatical." In an interview in Forbes, he says, "When we think about retirement as a sabbatical, people are going to retire, take a break and start thinking about what they want to do next. That hopefully will be incredibly liberating. It’s a wonderful idea that you take a year off, recharge and rethink."

Farrell advises those wanting to return to work focus on their skills instead of their job title. While you may have worked in a particular career all your life, in your second career, you may be better off evaluating your personal skill set and pursuing a completely different line of work. Reinventing yourself -- and taking some time to explore what you enjoy and what you are good at -- may be exhilarating. To the extent that you are financially secure, you can even pursue something because you love it, not because you intend it to produce income.

I can totally relate to this perspective. Both my wife and I reinvented ourselves after professional careers. We followed our passions and did something different for our second act. She was a sales professional and became a dog groomer because she loves working with dogs. She worked in her own mobile dog grooming business for seven years and generated income. Then she stopped grooming for money because it was too physically strenuous. Now she grooms when she wants just because she enjoys it, as an unpaid volunteer at an animal shelter. I ran a direct marketing agency, but I always had a love for writing. Now I'm a freelance writer and I work when I want. Some of the writing I do generates income, and some I do just because I enjoy it.

One of the things my wife and I had to learn during our boomerang back to work was that the value equation is different. In our previous professional careers, our perceived value was based on how much revenue we brought in. That monetary value was important to our self-image. It took a while to realize that value doesn't always have to be related to money. Now we are more comfortable with the notion that self-worth isn't based on financial and material assets alone. In fact, we both get a great deal of satisfaction doing things that do not directly result in generating income.

The retirement boomerang is a common condition for Boomers. Don't be surprised if it happens to you.

Image: Pixabay.com

Read about the brands you loved as a kid in the book, BOOMER BRANDS


Acknowledging an Aging Population

OnaWhimA United Nations estimate projects that between now and 2050, there will be an increase in the age 60-plus population in every country in the world. By 2050, those age 60-plus in the U.S. are likely to be as much as 25 to 30 percent of the total population. In 2017, the U.S. birth rate dipped to a 30-year low. With people living longer, the percentage of older Americans is sure to accelerate.

These statistics, while long range, are evidence that the world's population is aging. This means that businesses and governments will be forced to acknowledge this reality and provide programs, goods and services designed for the older generation. We Boomers may miss out on the big changes of the coming demographic revolution, but we are beginning to see glimmers of hope and encouraging examples that our own society is acknowledging an aging population.

One glimmer of hope is in the American job market. While a great deal of ageism still openly exists, the high number of jobs available is forcing American employers to reconsider their hiring practices. For example, AARP and McDonald's just announced a collaboration in which McDonald's will post all of its U.S. job openings on the AARP Job Board, and it will pledge to value the contributions of older workers. Why? Because McDonald's is trying to fill some 250,000 summer jobs available.

Screen Shot 2019-05-17 at 11.09.20 AMAnother promising movement is in the food industry. Beyond Meat, which offers plant-based meat substitutes and positions itself as "the future of protein," recently filed an IPO. The company is offering hamburger and sausage plant alternatives that could help reduce meat consumption, something Boomers especially need to do as they age. In addition, one of the Beyond Meat founders has introduced a new non-dairy, plant-based milk called Perennial, which is "smartly crafted for body and brain over 50." Other non-dairy products that indirectly target seniors who want to or need to reduce dairy consumption include varieties of oat, almond and soy milk.

Will other employers follow the lead of McDonald's? Like Perennial, will other companies recognize the potential of creating products and services specifically for an aging population? Let's hope we will see a rapid acceleration of this kind of activity so today's Boomers can benefit from it.

Have you heard about the new book, Boomer Brands?


Why Variety is the Spice of Retirement

OnaWhimOne of the reasons I call this blog "Happily Rewired" instead of "Happily Retired" is because of my firm belief that, for many Boomers, retirement is a time of "rewirement." You see it in Boomers who leave their careers to do something entirely different. For some, it means remaining employed, but making a career shift into a brand new line of work. For others, rewirement involves starting a business of their own. Still others leave the traditional work world behind in favor of volunteering. And then there are those adventurous types who sell their homes, buy an RV, and roam around the country.

What do you really want to do for the rest of your life? The answer to that question may have strings attached. You may, for example, need to continue to earn an income for several years to come. But more and more Boomers who are at least moderately financially secure are rewiring instead of retiring. They're doing that by stretching their personal boundaries, trying new things, and perhaps by living a life of variety. The rewired Boomer may pursue a patchwork of opportunities that combines part-time work (earned income), volunteering (psychic reward), educational courses (enrichment), and leisure activities (personal enjoyment). At the same time, the rewired Boomer is ever more conscious of diet, exercise, and living a healthy life.

Writing for The Balance, Dana Anspach details seven things Boomers could potentially do in retirement:

  1. Learn something new
  2. Volunteer
  3. Teach
  4. Connect with family
  5. Travel
  6. Work, but on your terms
  7. Rekindle an old hobby

Check out the article for more about each.

It's easy to see how the rewired Boomer could combine several of the things on this list to stay active, engaged and live a full life.

Variety is said to be the spice of life. Is variety also the spice of retirement? Maybe you should find out for yourself.

Have you heard about the new book, Boomer Brands?


Retirement and Self-Discovery

OnaWhimA major study about retirement called the Retirement Transitions Study reveals that many retirees face a psychological battle for self-discovery. Harvard Business School professor Teresa Amabile, who conducted the research along with colleagues from other institutions, says that retirees are typically "searching for something to replace [their] work identity." Amabile's team cut a broad swath with their research, interviewing 120 professionals at three different companies located in separate geographic areas of the United States. They talked to Millennials, workers approaching retirement, late-career professionals entering retirement, and those who had already retired, all at the same companies.

Amabile saw a distinct pattern emerge from the research: Those who had retired seemed to be quite happy about it initially, but then, after several weeks or months, the novelty wore off. According to Amabile, “You go from [work] to having to be an architect of a new life structure and, often, a new identity, where you need to build a new life and explore new activities, relationships, and ways of thinking about yourself.”

One of the intriguing qualities uncovered in the research is something called building "identity bridges," which retirees use as a strategy for preserving continuity between their pre-and post-retirement selves. Some of these identity bridges include "activating a latent identity" (rediscovering a passion that could not be pursued due to the rigors of work), "maintaining a life philosophy" that helps an individual remain positive despite the challenges of retirement, and "finding a new source for valued affirmation" (establishing relationships that provide the positive feedback that work used to offer).

This is important research that may very well validate what you feel if you are thinking about retirement or have already retired. Read more about it here: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/welcome-to-retirement-who-am-i-now

Have you heard about the new book, Boomer Brands?


Higher Education at an Older Age

OnaWhimA common characteristic of Boomers is their desire to learn for enjoyment. Education seems to become all the more precious as we age; the popularity of adult education courses through such organizations as OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute) is evidence of that fact.

Sometimes, though, higher education at an older age serves another more practical purpose: To learn new subjects and skills that are directly applicable to employment. There are obvious challenges in returning to college, but it is a route that is becoming far more common than you might think. The payback is in potentially making yourself a more attractive job candidate.

If you are considering going back to school for job-related purposes, you might want to check out this article:  "The Time is Now: Going Back to School at 50." Posted by Maryville College, which has helped pioneer online college courses, the article discusses reasons you might want to return to college, factors to take into consideration, and degrees and career paths that might be available to you. The article links to a "going back to school checklist" and also points to numerous additional resources. Check it out.


Creative Ways to Generate Part-Time Income

OnaWhimAs Boomers age, we may want to leave our full-time positions, but we are concerned about generating at least some income to supplement Social Security and retirement savings. On this blog, I've covered a number of ways Boomers can earn part-time income. Here is a handy list of seventeen part-time and creative possibilities, each of which is described in further detail in an article on the Entrepreneur website:

  1. Animal caretaker
  2. Tour guide
  3. Sharing economy "landlord"
  4. Market researcher and tester
  5. Temp
  6. Gardener
  7. Babysitter/caretaker
  8. Teacher/instructor
  9. Seller/consignor
  10. Tutor
  11. Online mock juror
  12. Independent consultant
  13. Home cook
  14. Mystery shopper
  15. Copy editor
  16. Movie or TV extra
  17. Transcriptionist

Read the entire article here: https://www.entrepreneur.com/slideshow/309408


Of Course You Can Start a Business

OnaWhimThere are many, many success stories of Boomers who have started a business.  My wife and I ran a small service business together after I left my professional career as an advertising executive. We used that business as a bridge from full-time work to part-time retirement. An unexpected bonus was that we were able to sell the business after seven years.

In an article on Business.com, Deborah Sweeney does a nice job of debunking three myths about starting a business when you're older:

  1. "I'm too old"
  2. "It's too risky to start a business"
  3. "I don't know where to find capital."

Regarding the first, Sweeney advises, "If you're passionate about a product or have a great vision for a service, don't let your age hold you back from getting started." As for the risk, she says you can start more slowly and cautiously before you launch a full-time venture. As for the third myth, imagine the trouble young entrepreneurs have finding capital -- it turns out that older start-up owners typically have better established credit and contacts.

Sweeney's article is encouraging -- as are the stories of Boomers who have made a successful go of it in their later years. Many Boomers, especially professionals, have a great deal to offer as independent business owners. Even if your business produces a modest income, it can be personally rewarding and at least supplement other sources of retirement income.

Is this your year to take the plunge? 


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!


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 NextAvenue.org. 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.


Can You Market Your Passion?

OnaWhimOnce we've reached Boomer status, many of us already realize what we're passionate about. The challenge in this second phase of life is being able to market your passion. Wouldn't it be great if you could actually turn your passion into part-time retirement income instead of working at a random, unrewarding job?

Nancy Collamer's recent article for NextAvenue.org, "How to Turn Your Passions Into Retirement Income," spotlights some Boomers who have done just that. One of them, a food lover, now works as a part-time guide for a food tour company. Another retiree who loves dogs gets dog walking jobs online. A third Boomer who has a passion for painting is selling his artwork online. Nancy suggests four possible ways to turn your passion into retirement income:

  1. Find a related part-time job
  2. Apply for contract work or "gigs"
  3. Sell your creations online
  4. Teach what you know online.

I can tell you from personal experience that marketing your passion works. During my professional career in advertising, I always loved to read business books. Now I've retired from advertising, but I still read business books -- and I also get paid for writing reviews of them. I have combined my love of reading and an ability to write into part-time retirement income.

What is your passion? Is it something you can market? You might be surprised to find out that you really can turn your passion into retirement income.