Sunday, February 15, 2009

Retired But Employed

Saturday's Wall Street Journal article There Goes Retirement profiles a number of retirees whose loss of assets has sent them back into the workplace. None were able to go back to their former positions, none were able to work from home, and none make anything close to the incomes they earned during their "real" working lives. But for most, that isn't the bad news. Whether it's true of everyone or just those who agreed to be interviewed for the article, most seemed happy to have the structure that part-time employment provided, as well as the additional income.

They learned some important lessons that might not be immediately apparent:

(1) Be careful of what you put on your resume when you're applying for an entry-level job. You don't want to scare off a potential employer by appearing over-qualified. (I'm thinking that an accurate resume with a carefully worded cover letter would be the answer here.)

(2) Be careful where you live--a move to a retirement community puts you into heavy competition for limited positions.

(3) Ratchet down your salary expectations. The good news is that you are not supporting yourself on your earnings, you are supplementing a depreciating portfolio. You still have your Social Security and, if you're really fortunate, your pension. $600 a month makes a genuine difference without requiring you to give up all of your free time in retirement.

(4) Don't cut all your ties to your employers and friends in the working world--they can be a good source of "small" or temporary job referrals.

Of course, what is not mentioned is that all of the retirees profiled are still in good health and are physically capable of working. Then again, most of these retirees COULD live comfortably, if not well, on their Social Security and their 401(k)'s. What they did not have was money for the extras--travel, meals out, golf, etc. They also were losing their peace of mind that they would not outlive their assets.

The "I'm retired and I'm leaving the work world behind me" attitude looks to be in for some major readjustments.

1 comment:

Florence said...

Yes, the key is that they are still able to work. But what happens when one is not able to work? I've flat given up on retirement--it just doesn't look like that's going to happen for me and I'm relatively well off. But what happens when next week or next year or 5 years down the line when I can't?? I'm a boomer (61) and there's going to be an awful lot of us getting to a place where working (even if there was a job available) isn't possible.