Right now there are 80 Million baby boomers in their 50s and 60s approaching that magical retirement age. And when you retire, the social norm over the past 75 years is that you must leave what you are doing and relax. Did you hear me? Hello? You must now RELAX! You have earned the right to do NOTHING! And, if you haven't saved a boatload of money by now, you're screwed.
But guess what? The boomers don't seem to want to go to golf communities and play cards or move into assisted living facilities. Well, why not? That sounds great, doesn't it? The fact is... they've got plans. Big plans. Today, people in their 50s and 60s are going back to school, starting new businesses (55+ is the fastest growing demographic for new businesses), they're building new homes, starting charter schools, exploring the world, campaigning for candidates, even joining the Peace Corp. Retirement it's definitely not. We need to come up with a new word that describes this part of life. And it needs to be something that articulates all the possibilities that come with it. At this stage, people are done raising kids, have had their first careers and now they can try something that they've always wanted to do... and, it may very well involve supporting themselves for many more years. I wouldn't mind supporting myself if I enjoyed what I was doing and it gave me purpose. Or had a job that paid the bills but gave me time to pursue something I was passionate about.
Much has been written about how boomers will never have enough money for retirement. When you think about it, how could most people ever save enough money from the age of 20-60 to support themselves an additional 20-40 years without working? You've had mortgages, kids, college, stuff. Instead of worrying about whether they've saved enough money to support extended non-working lifestyles, many boomers are charting new courses.
Think about the actual word "Retire". Retire that computer, the software is out of date. Retire that race horse, his days at the derby are over. Retire that Quarterback, his arm is shot. People shouldn't be retired. If you look up "Retire" in a thesaurus here's what comes up: Retreat, Surrender, Depart. That's not any mode I want to be in. This part of our lives can be filled with possibilities instead of killing time until we need long term care. Let's start with finding a new word for this stage of our lives and not define it by how much money we have or haven't saved.
Here are three suggestions:
1. My friends call it "Life 2.5". Life with a little something extra... The 2 being what we've experienced and accomplished and that .5 being the next adventure -- new career, more learning, more giving... more possibilities.
2. There are two more well-known terms with a theatrical root, Encore and Next Act. Encore. Not bad, Encore has done a great job in branding Encore Careers... Next Act... that kind of works too.
3. In Spain, they call it Jubalacion! Jubilation. That feels optimistic and joyful. Me gusta Jubalacion!
My favorite is Life 2.5, and on our retirement planning site GangsAway! we call it Life 2.5. (I only use the word "retirement" because we haven't yet established a better word, but maybe we'll do that today.) If any of you have some better ideas, please post them in the comments section and I'll do a recap in another column. The bottom line is, whatever you call it, this is your time to embrace, enjoy and make a difference. Spend some time to dig deep and figure it out.
If not now, when? Jubalacion!
Several larger corporations such as Starbucks, Target and Land's End are able to offer even their part-time employees benefits such as health coverage and paid vacation time (head over to ABC for a full list).
For those with an entrepreneurial spirit and computer know-how, the Internet offers opportunities to bring in some cash from home -- at any hour of the day or night. Take Jose and Jill Ferrer, a retired couple profiled by AARP for supplementing a freewheeling retirement with their website, Your RV Lifestyle. By highlighting certain products related to RV living, the pair earns $700 a month, AARP reports. "And we know the potential is there to grow our website business further," Jill Ferrer says. Other ideas: Etsy.com allows the crafty to turn a profit from their hobbies.
Personal care and home health aid topped the Bureau of Labor Statistics' list of the fastest growing occupations in America. The time commitment may vary (between 10 and 30 hours per week, according to SmartMoney), but the median annual wage is around $20,000 for both occupations, according to the BLS.
Bartending is not just for twentysomethings -- and for social butterflies, this part-time gig offers opportunity to rake in extra cash, not to mention tips, with a minimal initial financial investment (a 40-hour certification course at the New York City Bartending School costs a little less than $600, for example).
Age discrimination is less of a problem in government agencies, reports The Fiscal Times. In fact, agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Transportation Security Administration actively seek older workers. Visit USAJobs.gov to search for available positions.
If you've got an artistic flair or an interest in theater, makeup artists can make up to $40 an hour, and only work 20 hours a week on average, AOL Jobs reports. Disclaimer: qualifications may include formal training in cosmetology or theater, and a license is required to practice in several states.
What better way to scratch that globetrotting itch? If you're up for an on-the-go lifestyle, flight attendants also earn up to $40 an hour, making it a very well-paid part-time job.
The nonprofit sector can offer more than volunteer opportunities for retirees, and may be particularly appealing to those who "thought they wanted to change the world ... [but] put that on the back burner for 20 or 30 years while they climbed the corporate ladder," as Tamara Erickson, author of "Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation," told The Wall Street Journal. To get started, Idealist.org offers listings for available paid positions in addition to volunteer opportunities: applicants with years of experience under their belts are sure to be met with open arms. Even cooler, Encore.org offers paid Encore Fellowships to "match skilled, experienced professionals at the end of their midlife careers with social-purpose organizations" -- while earning a small stipend for part- or full-time work, midlifers can get their foot in the door to a fulfilling retirement job.
The pay may not be great, but if you're an arts lover, a history buff or a sports enthusiast, the perks certainly are!
"I studied hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy 3 years ago and now I have my own business, couldn't be happier" -- Huff/Post50 reader Lee Adley It's certainly a challenge, but as our amazing readers -- and the many men and women featured on our page -- can attest, going back to school and pursuing something totally different can be well worth the investment of time, money and energy.
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