Yahoo News 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 | In the past few decades, if anyone spoke of retirement, immediately people thought of relaxing on white sand beaches, spending lazy afternoons reading a book, or fixing all those little things that needed fixing around the house. In today’s world, people do not talk much about retiring. That word now brings images of not having enough money and maybe having to find a part-time job that normally would have gone to a teen-ager.
When I began working at 19 at White Castle in 1966, I didn’t think about retiring. The only people I knew who retired were very old people who moved into nursing homes. People in my family never really retired because of lack of money. Until I began my career as a flight attendant, I never knew that some people actually retired with money enough to travel and never had to work again.
Originally, in my life’s plan, I was not going to retire until I was 70. I had flown with United Airlines for 30 years and had early retired at 50. I then went to work at a few temporary jobs until I found a full-time job at Citibank. I was in good health and knew I would receive more money the longer I waited to permanently retire. Of course, as most people know, plans never work out when life comes at you from all sides.
In 2009, my Mother, at 81, moved in with me because she was loosing her eyesight. At that time, I lived in Florence, Kentucky where I had moved so my daughter could attend NKU. After my daughter graduated and moved out, my Mom and I talked about moving back to our home in Louisville. But at that time, at 62, I knew I wasn’t ready to retire so early. So I delayed moving home for a year.
As it turned out, we waited two years, and in 2011, I put in to transfer to Citibank in Louisville. Unfortunately, the Louisville call center was going through changes and not taking any transfers, so to take my Mom back home, I had to retire. It was two months before my 64th birthday.
After I retired, I had imagined sitting home, watching TV and going to movies. I sat home for about five months and realized that I was bored and still wanted to work. I know a lot of people have to work to make ends meet and I feel lucky that I have a choice. My social security and my pension from United are enough to pay my bills through the month. I also have my benefits from my retirement package with United, so I have the option to just look for temporary jobs. Some people I know have to continue working after they retire, just for insurance. That inequality is really upsetting for me. Right now, I can live on my benefits without working, but I wouldn’t have any extra money. So sometimes I work just to pay for extra things. I am working now to pay off some car repair bills I accumulated when my old car broke down this past spring.
This past year, when I turned 66, I was told I could make up to $40,000 over my social security. So I decided to go full-time again, but I chose the wrong company. I went for an emergency road service call center but it was not quite what I had in mind. The people stranded out on the road are not pleasant people and they blame you for everything.
I’m looking for another temporary job and want to find a place I can really enjoy. Most days, I really enjoy working. Some days I do have to push myself to go, but working is one way I can meet new people and make new friends. Seniors tend to stay in their small circle of family and friends. I like to branch out. My plan at this time is to work part-time for as long as I can. Sometimes I think about not working at all but not sure what I would do if I did stay home.. I think I’m just going to take it one job at a time. I’m making my retirement a work in progress.