For more boomers, work has become part of ‘retirement’ plan

For many people, dreams of an early retirement are fading if not blacked out.

The reality is that a lot of folks will still be working well into their senior years — if they can. A retirement survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 70 percent workers said they plan to work for pay even after they retire. And the age at which workers expect to retire continues to rise.

“The vision of people 50-plus spending their retirement years gardening, golfing and lounging on the beach is out,” says Kerry Hannon, who writes the Great Jobs for Retirees column for AARP.

But there’s a difference in the people who say they will continue working in retirement. Hannon notes that they aren’t retirees looking for part-time supplemental work or to stave off boredom.

“What’s different now is that baby boomers are either continuing to work much longer or approaching work not as an afterthought but as a pillar of their ‘retirement’ plans,” she writes in this month’s Color of Money Book Club selection, “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work that Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills” (Wiley, $18.95).

Yes, there are financial reasons to stay put in your job if you’re 50 or older. You may need to continue building your savings, Hannon says.

However, she writes, studies show that for people over 50, it’s also important to be engaged and stay engaged.

“Work gives us a sense of purpose, feeling connected and needed. It makes us feel relevant. It’s hard to pin a precise paycheck on that, but it’s real.”

Hannon has spent her adult lifetime becoming an expert in career transition and retirement issues. She is a contributing editor for Forbes magazine and writes the Second Verse column aimed at boomers for Forbes.com. She used to work as a reporter and personal finance columnist for USA Today.

Now in her early 50s, she’s talking from experience. She uses other people’s experiences to also make the case for good and fulfilling retirement jobs that pay the bills. She encourages encore careers where you pursue something different than your current employment. An example she cites is a high school assistant superintendent who became a personal fitness trainer.

There are two parts to the book. The first provides employment ideas — 10 chapters worth — from seasonal and part-time jobs to those that ride the age wave, the latter involving opportunities catering to the 50 and over crowd. For instance, you might consider being a health care/patient advocate, a position that helps people navigate the complex medical system such as deciphering and correcting billing errors or helping people contest insurance coverage rejections. The pay for this job can range from $15 to $50 an hour. Or how about helping the boomers who want to downsize or relocate by becoming a move manager. Typical clients are relocating to smaller homes or apartments or retirement communities. You could make from $30 to $75 an hour.

“There is something here for everyone, a virtual smorgasbord,” Hannon writes. “You’ll discover plenty of ideas to spur your imagination about how you can make the most of your talents to create work that, well, works for you.”

In addition to a job description, Hannon provides average pay information, hours, qualifications needed and job-hunting tips. The pay-range figures in part come from Labor Department data.

In the second half of the book, you’ll find advice on using social media to job hunt, how to volunteer your way to a job, how to become your own boss and ways to conquer your fear of making a career change.

Someone once suggested to me that the American dream shouldn’t be to stop working when you retire. Work for life, he said. I thought he was loopy. I’ve looked forward to the rest and relief from constant deadlines. But then I realized that I probably will never stop working. I like being a productive part of something — and getting a regular paycheck. Let Hannon help you find work that keeps you healthy, happy and paid.

Washington Post Writers Group

Online chat

Michelle Singletary will host a live online discussion about “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+” at 9 a.m. Pacific on Nov. 29 at washingtonpost.com/conversations. Kerry Hannon will join her to answer your questions. Every month, Singletary randomly selects readers to receive a copy of the featured book, which is donated by the publisher. For a chance to win a copy of this month’s book club selection, send an email to colorofmoney@washpost.com with your name and address.

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