Yahoo is publishing first-person perspectives from Americans 65 or older who have returned to the workforce after retiring or who have picked up a second job to bolster their income. These personal stories come on the heels of an Associated Press poll that says 82 percent of workers 50 and older say it’s at least somewhat likely they will work during their retirement years. Forty-seven percent, meanwhile, said they’ll retire later than planned. Here’s one account.
FIRST PERSON | Many seniors have returned to the workforce, or have never left, because of the financial concerns that have taken place since the recession and its aftermath. That has been my case, but with a series of physical disabilities that makes regular work hours impossible, finding opportunities for making money was challenging. However, I have been able to develop and balance two jobs while taking care of my health concerns too.
Our budget as a married couple, both over age 70, began to deteriorate at the outset of the recession when we lost considerable money in the stock market collapse with the recession. A couple of downturns in the real estate market forced us to sell some of our rental real estate below the former assessed values. We began to assume small debts for the first time in nearly 20 years, so the need to make extra money became more and more critical. Housing costs began to soar, and occupy most of our budget, despite the fact our mortgage balance was paid. Living on a fixed income, with declines in additional sources of income upon which we had relied for years, those budgetary concerns created problems requiring us to consider new sources of income. But how?
The plan was to create opportunities, due to my inability to keep a regular work schedule because of physical liabilities that include diabetes, osteoporosis, metabolic syndrome, virulent forms of skin cancer and glaucoma. My husband has myasthenia gravis of the eyes that periodically influences his ability to create the paintings that once offered supplemental income throughout our married lives. So both of us were limited in work we could perform.
What I did was first assess my transferable skills, knowing that they might produce some avenues for income. Throughout my life, I had been a writer, sometimes doing an occasional story for a newspaper or magazine or professional journal. Most of the time, however, I had done technical writing associated with my position as a manager, counselor and educator. This meant I had some skills that could be used in writing articles targeted for special group needs, drawing from my experiences in several occupations. This led to producing articles for advertisers, online sites and my own magazine, after I mastered the art of creating websites. The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs, appeals to a broad selection of readers and offers income by way of advertising in various forms.
Years ago I had been a professional singer, some of the time managing to find work in isolated clubs and venues where a female musician could entertain in solitary fashion. I was never a classic instrumentalist but could play well enough to get jobs and money in music. I was able, however, to expand opportunities when I had another musician accompany me that allowed me to sing various genres of music and reach a wider audience than I had with just my guitar. This was another transferable skill I could use to obtain that second job.
I had long since given up music during crucial years prior to my retirement in counseling and social service management. My singing voice, I believed, had lost its luster, and I could not entertain. What I didn’t know was that modern technology allowed far-reaching opportunities I did not know existed in the music industry, offering that level playing field where a senior with disabilities could be included and make money too. That became my second job, producing my own music and sharing it on online music sites. The more I performed and practiced, the more my voice improved and the greater grew my audience. The fact that my husband has musical skills also was an aid in music production and sales of music in online communities everywhere.
Add to this that articles could be transformed into books and other reading materials, as well as including music promotional materials and other areas where I had expertise, and gradually my income improved. I now own a publishing company at age 72, that I operate from a room in my home, with plans for further expansion.
Although my income from two separate areas of the arts, has not been of the nature that could support a family or even be a major financial source for a senior couple with disabilities and aging issues, both have served to provide the necessary supplement so that we have been able to keep up financially with many seniors among our friends the same age. We have, as a couple, even been able to save, take trips and purchase equipment, while continuing to expand our horizons in the arts.
The need to make more money has brought opportunities for aging in place and a revival of conscious efforts to continue to learn at the same time. So activities we have that make money have also served to maintain relatively good health as well, especially mental agility which is aided to new learning experiences.
I have chosen to work at age 72 and plan to continue for many good reasons. One is the income supplement that is often $500 monthly or better. I don’t think I will ever fully retire, when the benefits of promoting good health as well as income continues.
What Retirement Means: Seniors Are Getting Back to Work
National Public Radio
The Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Child of Light and Heaven Too