The Cassia Life

Unretirement Unmasked, Why We Go Back to Work

The Cassia Life
By Jesse Watkins, Cassia’s own resident blogger

It’s a common dilemma. You worked hard to save money for retirement and all considered did quite well. Your savings–your investments–are substantial. Now, however, actually retired, your living expenses go right on but the paycheck stops, and things financial may begin to feel a bit threatening.

Of course the idea of saving for retirement is a bit of a stretch in itself. Working 40 years, you pay for a living as you go along, plus you’re expected to save enough for 30 years of retirement? Better get lucky!

Just how well did our baby boomers do in the planning for retirement department? According to the Insured Retirement Institute in Washington D.C., not very well. For starters, 45% of boomers have zero savings. Ouch! Social Security payments alone do not provide cushy retirement. Private pensions will help about a third of boomer retirees, and only 8% have purchased long-term care insurance. Long life (age 95) for one or both of a couple will infringe on funds.

As to unretiring per se, the institute says one third of boomers are either doing so or are delaying their start of retirement.

Do a lot of common folks actually retire for a while, then get a job and go back to work? “Lots!” responds my taxes preparer, Jane Hensen of FiveStar Tax, Golden Valley, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb. “I think you’d be surprised how often I see it.”

And it’s not a new thing. Years ago my Dad, Jesse Ralph Watkins, now deceased, retired from a lifetime as a United Methodist pastor, then found himself and Mom with too little income to make it. He tried selling men’s suits on commission in a large department store but business was slow. Eventually he took a position as associate pastor in a suburban church, and helped it grow. His pastor’s pension improved and eventually ends met.

Like father like son: After a lifetime as a working journalist I hung it up at 70, goofed off for several years, and finally got the opportunity to write this blog for Cassia. Works for me.

Augustana Apartments resident Marty Rasmussen, while early in her senior years, worked for nearly a decade selling women’s clothing at then Marshall Fields, now Macy’s, in downtown Minneapolis. “New money, not so much needed as wanted, takes some of us seniors back to work,” says Marty. “You have money to buy some things that you couldn’t afford before–clothes, a new car, travel.

”Also, at work you meet new people, and make new friends. The work may replace time at home that you were bored,” notes Marty.

At age 79, Augustana resident Ralph Hunt, said he’s looking for a part-time job; he lives on just his Social Security check. “You don’t live on Social Security, you survive on Social Security,” he says.

So, short of going back to work at your old job, what opportunities are available for seniors? A sign on the McDonalds that I walked by yesterday said, “Employment available, start at $13 an hour.” Probably not the best choice for seniors.

Putting a marketing effort behind a personal skill can work, often part-time.  A friend offers household downsizing sorting/packing work for folks about to move. Another built a small company offering maid services. A pastor’s son offers consulting to churches wanting to merge, refinance, or sell property. Gathering information, conducting interviews and writing this blog takes a strong 20 hours weekly.

Does freelance anything pay enough? My own observation of those unretiring is that most of the time it’s necessary to do battle to avoid hiring on cheap. Be ready to prove what you’ve been paid in the past. And seniors sometimes are seen as less productive.

Checking figures on-line from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the hourly earnings for manufacturing employees is now $27.13/hour, up from $22.37/hour in 2010.

How many seniors are now at work in the USA? Aged 65 and older, there are 10,627,000 full-timers. Raise the age 10 years to 75 and greater and the number of full-time workers is 2,067,000.

That’s a bunch.





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