For many elder boomers, like me, the outdated model of retirement isn’t a good fit today. We’re healthier and living longer than prior generations.
Most of us don’t want to just sit in a porch rocking chair gazing at the sunset, play golf continuously, eat boring lunches at the Senior Center, or live like we’re on vacation every single day. We want to remain relevant, with meaning and purpose in our later life as we continue to learn and grow.
Indeed, many studies have found that people who retire early and do not remain active and engaged, tend to die sooner – including a study from Oregon State University.
Years ago, I thought I’d work to my mid-60s and then retire from my successful financial planning business with my husband to focus on family, volunteering, and some travel.
But my plan was disrupted when he died two months after being diagnosed with cancer – right after my 60th birthday. His death was the start of my wilderness grief journey and transformation, ultimately leading to my encore career that I love today.
Soon after his death, I started focusing my work at Rehl Financial Advisors on helping other widows. That included writing articles about widows and money. I was even asked to write a professional column every other month, which reached thousands.
Soon afterward, I started writing a book, which took more than a year to complete and publish. Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows led to many interviews by journalists writing for popular publications. Lots of invitations to speak followed, and I accepted these across the country.
I wanted to help other widows and their financial advisors. But I was losing money on every event I attended – paying my own expenses! Sure, I was selling books at these events, but that income was paltry compared to travel costs and lost revenue while I was away from my primary job.
So, I went back to school, enrolling in the local Speakers Academy of the National Speaker’s Association. There I learned how to make a business from my speaking, plus honing my presentation skills.
Working with my coach, I decided to sell my financial planning business, so I could transition into more speaking, writing, mentoring, and research work. For me, that was a great decision I made six years ago.
Today I also continue writing and assisting financial journalists with stories about widows. You can read two of these latest articles in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Now at age 72, I love this lifestyle and encore career.
Financial Benefits and More from My Encore Career
My encore career allows me to:
- Receive income for work I love doing as I help others.
- Maximize my Social Security monthly income by 32% by starting at age 70 rather than 66.
- Increase my financial net worth, since I can contribute to my solo 401K and Roth IRA retirement accounts even though I’m over age 70½.
- Increase my ability to financially help my children and grandchildren.
- Travel to fun cities, where I also meet interesting people, while my sponsor pays most expenses.
- Do projects that are meaningful to me and say “no” to others.
- Work as much or as little as I want.
- Use skills honed over a lifetime, integrating them in new, creative ways.
- Keep my brain mentally active.
The Biggest Drawbacks for Me
For me, there are a couple of drawbacks, namely:
- A bit less flexibility for some spontaneous activities; solution is to carefully monitor my calendar and not overcommit.
- Travel may be tricky, with flights frequently canceled, rescheduled, or delayed; solution is to allow extra time, just in case.
Get Creative and Go for Your Own Encore Career!
Think about transitioning into your encore career over time, rather than jumping in after leaving your job. Perhaps you can downshift from a full-time professional position into a part-time role. Maybe you can remain on as a consultant or project worker.
You can stay engaged with work and get a partial paycheck plus lots of free time. Or, take a leap and go for something completely new that you love! Run your numbers to see if this is a good fit, financially and personally.
A Note of Caution
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, try it on for size first. For example, do a non-paid “internship” at your local coffee shop before starting a franchise and spending tens of thousands of dollars only to discover you’re working harder than you did before and not liking it.
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