It’s happened to so many people lately. Folks in their 50’s and 60’s go in to work one day and find themselves retired by the end of it. While they might have looked forward to that time off a few years ago, this news, combined with their plummeting retirement portfolios, is frequently a major cause of concern and even desperation.
Fortunately there are many opportunities for baby boomers who find themselves in earlier retirement and with fewer resources than they had planned. This article will explore some ideas to get you back on track.
Early retirement is the shock that forces most people to take stock of their resources and interests. The first decision is: “do I need to go back to work to support myself to the level I feel comfortable. Or, can I retire successfully because I either have enough resources, or can I downsize or move to a lower cost residence or state and make up the difference.” If you decide that you either need to keep working for the money, or you want to work because that’s what you enjoy, you face another round of questions.
What are Your Skills? The Director of Human Resources of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania had this advice in the NY Times for retired people who view their careers as successful: “…(make) use of the skills you acquired over the years. (Otherwise) you’re going to be competing in the job market without a competitive advantage.” So, his advice to a CPA would be not to go back to school for a marketing degree.
Part Time and Contract Work: Particularly for boomers with marketable skills, consider part-time or contract work. It often pays more per hour than a salaried position, and it offers the flexibility most retirees are looking for.
What are Your Interests: If you had a career but either never particularly enjoyed it, or it changed over time to something you wish you weren’t doing, maybe it is time to change careers. Perhaps now might be the ideal opportunity to spend a year in the Peace Corps (see NY Times article). Or, maybe you should go back to school and pick up some skills and a competitive advantage in the job market. Even if you don’t want to go back to work, school might be just the ticket to an exciting new hobby or passion.
Going Back to School: Many professionals admit to feeling a bit snobby toward community colleges. If that is the case with you, here’s our advice: “Get over it.” America’s community college system has made tremendous strides in being relevant to today’s world. In fact they are often so successful that many of their snottier competitors should blush. A lot of the community college success comes from their partnerships with local employers, who have advised the schools to focus learning on the skills they are looking to hire. IT, health care, education, and specific technical skills are still in demand even in this economy. The degrees and certificates that qualify you for these jobs are readily available at your local community college. And the good news is you can get them for a fraction of the cost and time required at traditional higher education institutions.
Interested in Starting a New Career?
Your local community college is a tremendous resource to help you start thinking about what kind of work you might like to do. So check out your nearest community college. From advanced cake cake decorating to Quick Books accounting to introduction to glass blowing to a building sustainability inspection certificate program, you will find programs to fulfill almost any boomer dream. Their online catalogs show an amazing variety of courses, degrees and certificates -many available as distance learning. Community colleges specialize in retraining to develop skills for the jobs most in demand today. Tuition for seniors is often reduced or subsidized, an added bonus.
What is happening with you? Have you been retired and then decided to go back to work? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.