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The New Retirement: Work

More people choosing to stay in workforce versus sailing off into sunset

By Barbara Pierce

In the new movie “Going in Style,” the pension fund of three lifelong friends ran out of money. Desperate to pay their bills, they come up with a daring plan to rob the bank that absconded their pension fund.

The idea of robbing a bank to support yourself in retirement makes a great plot for a movie, but it’s not the best way to make sure your money lasts as long as you do.

People are living longer. That means your money will have to last longer than you might expect — even two or three decades. Someone who is 65 can expect to live another 19 years, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Google “planning for retirement” and you’ll find a long list of websites offering financial advice. Yes, having enough money to support your self in retirement is critically important.

Also important is being happy with your life. Happiness correlates strongly with direction and meaning in life, and may even be more important than money. Happy retirees have at least 3.5 “core pursuits.”

A core pursuit is an activity and interest you love to pursue. Core pursuits are fulfilling and gratifying: volunteering, traveling, a part-time job, teaching, sports — things that make you feel good about yourself and your life.

Several organizations in Central New York help seniors seeking to change careers.

“We help anyone looking for a job,” said Christine Weaver, director of the Oswego County Workforce New York One Stop Career Center. “Come in, use our computers, get help with your resume, or come to a workshop to sharpen your job-seeking skills.”

The office in Fulton is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. It can be reached at 315-591-9000 or see www.yourcareerconnection.org.

“Employers value older workers and what they bring to the workplace in terms of experience, loyalty, dependability and flexibility,” advises the website of the Onondaga County Office for Aging. “Particularly successful are individuals who are willing to update job skills, especially their basic knowledge of computers.”

However, as its senior employment program has a waiting list of seniors seeking jobs, its representative suggests that seniors considering changing careers contact the Women’s Opportunity Center or CNY Works.

The Women’s Opportunity Center helps women with their job search and training goals, through on-the-job training, workshops, and one-to-one assistance. “We help displaced homemakers enter the workforce after divorce, separation, or widowhood,” explained Joyce Groth. “We provide training, computer training, and help with resumes.”

For more information, see www.womensopportunity.org or call 315-446-0550.

CNY Works deals with those who wish to change careers or upgrade their job skills. It offers many workshops on resume writing, interviewing and computer skills.

For more information, see www.cnyworks.com or call 315-473-8250.

Frightening prospect

“I’m scared,” wrote Diane Rehm in her book, “On my Own.” She was scared as she began planning for retirement. The former public radio talk show host continued: “The prospect of retirement brings grief. How will I fill the void? Who will I be?

“I know I’ll find new ways to enjoy life and new things to achieve. I know there is another chapter ahead, one that will allow me to work in ways that will not only satisfy me but also be of help to others. I believe I will find ways to do whatever I need to do to feed my soul, to keep me going, to stay involved with the world, to find a new place in it for myself.”

That’s what we all need to find in retirement: doing what we need to do to feed our souls, stay involved, and find a meaningful new place in the world.

“Phase into it by gradually reducing full time hours,” Rehm suggests. “Or quit your job and find part-time work. It keeps your mind sharp and keeps you from getting isolated and lonely.”

In a poll, 75 percent of U.S. workers said they believe “work is the new retirement.” In another survey, 72 percent of pre-retirees said they plan on working in retirement.  Many change occupations as they prepare to retire.

When older workers change occupations later in life, many do not earn as much as they did in their primary career.

But, even though your income may be less, there are many advantages to continuing to work part time. You may be able find a job that fulfills your passions as well as helping your pocketbook.

You can still contribute to retirement plans and refrain from dipping into existing ones. You can delay claiming Social Security and get bigger checks each year you don’t take benefits.

Continuing to work will help you feel more relevant and needed and less isolated.

To plan ahead for a pay cut if you hope to change occupations, start shaving debt and downsizing three or so years ahead of time. Then, you can accept a job that pays less than your previous position, but one that makes you happy or brings meaning to your life and perhaps helps others along the way.

Also, consider that a stint volunteering might turn into a job offer. It gets you out of the house and helps you through the transition as you look for employment.

Or consider a temp agency; some find this a good solution for working in retirement.