Projects for Deferred Retirement
CREATIVE RETIREMENT TIPS
by Rob Kelly
Not all retirees want to stop working. The motivations may be
financial, emotional, or just the sheer boredom with the extensive
unscheduled time that retirement brings into one's life. Many
retirees, who feel physically fit and like the routine and discipline
that a regular job brings, will seek out a full- or part-time
job. The job may be a second career or something completely different
from what they used to do. This article presents ten interesting
jobs that as a retiree, you might consider.
Project One-Start a New Career
For many successful independent-thinking people, the fun of working
was in the process of striving to achieve their initial career
goals-to become the head of marketing or the company president,
for example. Maybe the goal was to earn a million dollars before
the age of fifty or become known as a master craftsman or one
of the best experts in a chosen field. Striving to attain a goal,
despite the hardships and challenges, can make life interesting,
exciting, and personally rewarding.
For most people, those challenges disappear when they retire.
If you are one of those people who still needs that challenge
to make life interesting and give you a reason for jumping out
of bed in the morning, consider starting a second career. After
twenty or thirty years in a profession or trade, you have become
extremely good at a number of tasks and skills that can be applied
to a new career.
One army sergeant, for example, spent his military career working
with sophisticated target acquisitioning systems in tanks and
armored vehicles. When forced into mandatory retirement at the
age of fifty, he began a new career working as a field consultant
for a company that manufactured and marketed weapon targeting
systems. He traveled to various army bases as a consultant, checking
the accuracy of newly installed weapon systems.
Retirees who formerly managed office complexes, manufacturing
plants, or data processing departments or nurtured a start up
business into a successful enterprise also make great business
consultants. Small fledgling businesses that sell products and
services often get into trouble as they grow larger and need outside
expertise to provide advice and direction.
No matter what your past career has been, you still have an array
of skills that can be put to use in another direction. Make a
list of the skills that you have developed over the years, such
as people management, problem-solving, crisis intervention and
resolution, creative development, marketing, teaching, technical,
computers, writing, or artistic design. Then, make a list of possible
careers that can use those talents.
Retirees can become mentors, teachers, consultants, new business
developers, service providers, legal advisors, investors, tradespeople,
truck drivers, photographers, freelance authors, interior decorators,
political advisors, and senior travel consultants. There really
is no limit to what you can do if your heart is set on it. Feeling
like there is a purpose and direction to your life may be the
key to a happier semiretirement. For additional information for
those contemplating a second career, refer to the following resources.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Home-Based
by Barbara Weltman, and Beverly Williams
Alpha Books, 2000, 2nd Edition
Highly rated book on the ins and outs of owning a home business.
Covers types of businesses, financing, taxation, marketing, the
home office, and keeping your personal and business lives separate.
A primer for success.
Turn Your Passion Into Profits: How to Start the Business
of Your Dreams
by Janet Allon
Hearst Books, 2001
Equal parts information and inspiration, this book will teach
you what you need to know about starting the business of your
dreams. A New York Times writer, Allon uses actual case studies
from women entrepreneurs. Topics: business plans, business name,
financing, marketing, and hiring staff.
Project Two-Become a Travel Escort
All-inclusive packaged tours to various domestic and
exotic destinations, such as Britain, Europe, Australia, Russia,
and China, have become increasingly popular methods of travel
with this generation of retirees. Many people love to travel,
but many prefer that someone else plan the details of the itinerary
and do the organizing. Escorted tours fill this niche in the travel
industry. These extended trips may involve several methods of
transportation, including planes, tour buses, passenger trains,
or cruise ships. Passengers travel together as a group accompanied
by a representative of the travel agency referred to as a travel
The travel escort is part guide, part entertainer, part organizer,
and part troubleshooter. This is also the person who handles the
day-to-day details of the trip, such as room assignments for sleeping,
making sure the luggage gets to the rooms, getting people up at
6:00 A.M. for breakfast and onto the rest of the tour. He or she
may also provide a travelogue over the audio system of interesting
things to see and has daily chats with each person in the group.
Not surprisingly, agencies that hire travel escorts tend to favor
escorts who love being with people, over people who just love
to travel. Frequent travelers will often request trips on which
their favorite travel escort is working.
Veteran travel escorts will learn the names of the group members
before the tour begins and send them welcome letters a week ahead
of time, with travel tips on which items to bring, as well as
health insurance suggestions. They often have a set of personal
audio cassettes with six to eight hours of pleasant travel music,
a jug of water and disposable cups (and garbage bag) for passengers,
a bag of toffees and candies, a first aid kit, puzzles, brain
teasers and pencils, and anecdotes to entertain passengers on
monotonous long stretches of travel.
Escort pay is meager and varies by the agency. It may range from
$350 to $500 (plus tips) for a three-week tour, or they may be
paid $80 to $150 per day depending on their experience and ability.
Agencies will often placate their best escorts by offering them
their favorite travel venues instead of more money. Most escorts,
however, enjoy the adventure of meeting a new group of people
and the thrill of travel. The experience is like a box of chocolates:
you never know what you are going to get until you bite into them.
Project Three-Be A Car Rental Agency Shuttle Driver
Car rental agencies, such as Avis and Tilden, advertise in retirement
newspapers and magazines specifically for retirees to serve as
shuttle drivers for their fleet of cars. The problem for which
they need your help is that customers often drop off a rental
car in a location other than its point of origin. Since rental
agencies are independently owned, and that car is the owners'
corporate property, they need to get it back to their rental agency
lot as soon as possible. So they charge the customer an additional
drop-off fee of $20 to $50, depending on the distance, and use
that money to pay their team of shuttle drivers. The larger the
agency and the bigger the urban center, the greater number of
trips the shuttle driver can expect per day.
Shuttle drivers may work within a single metropolitan center
shuttling cars between different agency locations, airports and
inner city locations, different cities, or frequented cross-border
routes. Usually retirees are offered the local shuttle jobs.
Typically, car rental agencies look for enthusiastic retirees
with a valid driver's "G class" (general) license or
better, free of traffic violations, who are available on call
with flexible hours to drive their vehicles. Interested candidates
will be required to present their driver's license, which may
be photocopied and kept on file, and a short one-page resume with
their name, mailing address, phone number, and social security
or insurance number. It may be helpful to have a cell phone or
pager so that the company can keep tabs on you while you're in
transit or waiting for a new assignment.
To apply for these jobs, seek out local independently owned car
rental agencies and ask the rental manager about job availabilities
and a possible job interview at which you can drop off your resume
for their files. The larger the agency, the greater the need.
Look for franchises that have a national brand car rental name,
such as Avis, Tilden, National, and Budget. You can find them
in your telephone book's yellow pages.
Project Four-Sell Your Caregiver Talents
If you enjoy taking care of other people, but also have
need of part-time income, you might consider selling your caregiving
skills by the hour. With the increased number of elderly people
in North American cities and towns, the need for caregivers has
also increased. People need someone to assist with elderly parents
or individuals with debilitating arthritis, loss of memory, or
a recent injury, or some lonesome relative who just needs a little
company while younger relatives are out shopping or need a break
from being the full-time caregiver.
Advertise as a part-time caregiver for $10 to $20 per hour, depending
on the difficulty and complexity of the assignment. If an assignment
sounds too difficult, refuse to take it. Schedule your assignments
so that you also have free time for yourself. Relieving full-time
caregivers for a couple hours each week can be scheduled on particular
days well in advance so that both of you can make other plans.
Some substitute caregivers offer a range of skills, including
cooking lunch or supper, washing dishes, light housekeeping, chatting
with an infirm patient, or reading newspapers or books to someone
who is losing his/her eyesight.
In large apartment buildings, you can advertise your skills on
the laundry room bulletin board or on their social activity board.
Include your hourly rate, what tasks you are willing to do, and
tear-away strips with your phone number. Other inexpensive locations
where you can advertise include neighborhood grocery store bulletin
boards, the Internet, a local seniors' newspaper, and at senior
community centers. You may wish to advertise in the classified
section of a local newspaper for about $15 a week under the section
Caregiving Help Offered. Specify the distance you are willing
Project Five-Become a Professional House Sitter
One interesting nonstrenuous part-time paying job for singles
or couples that involves travel to different parts of the country
is house sitting. At any point in time, a certain number of homeowners
all over North America are planning extensive vacations, temporary
career relocations, or lengthy hospital recuperation that cause
them to be absent from their homes for a certain length of time.
They may be worried that during their absence their home will
be broken into or vandalized, or that their flower garden and
lawn will die from neglect. The solution to their problem is to
find a responsible individual or retired married couple who will
act as caretakers for their property while they are gone.
If homeowners cannot convince a relative or neighbor to take the
assignment, they will often resort to advertising in a national
newspaper, a retirement or seniors magazine, the classified section
in a senior association website, or through house sitting agencies.
The advertisements will specify the region of the country where
the house is located and the length of time that the homeowner
will be absent. Since the house sitting assignment involves a
vacation of sorts for the house sitter in a different climate,
it is considered as part of the pay. The rest of your salary is
negotiated with the homeowner who may also be willing to pay for
some of your travel costs.
If you are considering such a vacation/assignment, you should
develop a one-page resume, complete with a current photograph,
name, address, phone number, age, past careers, and short biography.
Homeowners seeking house sitting candidates tend to prefer nonsmoking
retired couples with past careers that indicate stability and
responsibility, such as retired police officers or security officers,
teachers, doctors, ministers, or store owners. They also look
for people who will not stray far from the house, such as writers
or painters who are looking for privacy and a quiet retreat.
You can find advertisements for house sitting in retirement
magazines, such as Fifty-Plus and GoodTimes,
both published in Toronto, Canada. The Caretaker Gazette is
a bimonthly newsletter published in Arizona, devoted to 700 house
sitting, property, and caretaking opportunities. For additional
information, refer to the following sources.
The Caretaker Gazette
PO Box 5887-M
This bimonthly newsletter outlines 700 house sitting, property,
and caretaking opportunities. Subscription cost $27/year. Ask
for Gary Dunn.
There are dozens of regional housesitting agencies in the United
States and Canada. To access them try the following Internet Keywords:
house sitting agencies
AARP (American Association of Retired Persons)
Website : www.aarp.org
For house sitting opportunities, check out the AARP website classified
Fifty-Plus (Canadian Association of Retired Persons)
Each bimonthly issue of CARP's magazine for seniors has classified
ads requesting house sitters, frequently on the Pacific coast.
Their bimonthly magazine for seniors contains classified ads requesting
Project Six-Research Family Trees for a Fee
Genealogy, the researching of one's family ancestry, has become
a popular hobby among seniors in the past thirty years. However,
many hobbyists are unable to do archival or graveyard headstone
research on their own in a particular area of the country because
of great distances or personal physical disabilities. As a result,
they hire someone in the region where they suspect their ancestors
lived to do the research for them.
Being a family history researcher can be a source of income if
you charge clients a consulting fee for services provided. The
fee can be by the hour or a flat fee for each task performed.
For example, suppose a client has asked for census, marriage,
death, and headstone information on a particular relative who
was born in the 1800s. The census, marriage, and death data can
be researched on microfilm in a state archive (or the National
Archives if you live near Washington) or in a Family History Center
of the Latter Day Saints. The headstone information can be obtained
from an actual visit to the cemetery, reading through headstone
transcription records found in printed cemetery records, or on
some cemetery Internet websites. The client can be charged $10
to $20 per hour based on time spent on the tasks, or by a varying
flat fees, such as $10 for a census or marriage record on one
individual, $5 for each headstone transcription, and $10 for headstone
photographs. The fees are always collected before the research
The job itself requires knowledge about where information can
be found, patience, a willingness to help people, and skills in
operating your own business. You will need a suitable filing system
to keep track of multiple clients, and a computer system to do
research, write letters, and print invoice details of services
rendered. Designing letterhead stationery for invoices and letters
will provide a professional appearance to your work. If you dedicate
the computer, filing cabinet and furniture, supplies, and Internet
fees entirely to the business, you can claim an office in the
home and use them as legitimate tax deductions against revenue
earned from the business.
Marketing your services is going to be one of the on going operational
costs. Some suggestions include developing a business website,
printing professional brochures, designing a business logo, and
advertising in family history journals and genealogy society newsletters
in distant locations, such as other states or other countries
(Canada or Britain). You may find that specializing as an expert
in one particular region, one ethnic group, or the Civil War era
will draw more clients than advertising as a general researcher.
Base your advertising on things you are already familiar with
and have already researched.
Project Seven-Refinish and Sell Antique Furniture
Retirees who are good with their hands and enjoy working
with wood-related projects should consider purchasing, refinishing,
and selling antique furniture as an income-generating venture.
The furniture pieces might include old hutches, end tables, dresser
drawers, wash stands, bookcases, rocking chairs, kitchen chairs,
and tables. There are a number of places where early manufactured
furniture can be obtained, including summer garage sales, particularly
in small towns with old houses and in farm country; home foreclosures
auctions; estate sales; and from friends, relatives, and neighbors.
The main refinishing tools are those designed to strip away old
paint and varnish, such as belt sanders for smooth surfaces and
the Black & Decker Mouse for getting in and around odd shapes.
All the hardware should be taken off the furniture prior to stripping,
including brass or wooden knobs, openers, and latches.
Once the refinishing is completed, look for imperfections in the
furniture-dents, scrapes, wood bubbles-and smooth those out as
much as possible. Then apply some plastic wood to fill in the
holes and imperfections and let dry.
How the surface covering is reapplied depends upon the type of
furniture. Hutches, end tables, and bookcases will look rich in
a dark mahogany varnish, while some pioneer dresser drawers and
kitchen tables may look better with a sealant and clear coating
for a rustic, unfinished appearance.
Once the hardware is reattached, the completed project is ready
for resale. Pricing and selling the pieces is a business skill
as important as the woodworking itself. The prices must not exceed
what a new piece of furniture would cost, but should be enough
to cover the cost of its original purchase plus a 15 to 20 percent
profit. Presentation and display of the items is important to
getting your asking price. Move the furniture out of the garage
or workshop into an attractive setting and add doilies and vases
of attractive plastic or real flowers to accent the furniture.
Place small nicely lettered price tags on the pieces you are selling.
Another variation on this type of project is to start a business
in which you refinish damaged wood furniture for clients. Usually
more knowledge is required for this type of venture, including
how to use wood laminates, match existing shades of varnish and
stains, and use woodworking machines to make exact copies of damaged
Project Eight-Deliver For a Pharmacy
There are all sorts of product delivery positions open
for seniors, including pizza delivery, restaurant delivery, and
pharmacy delivery. However, they differ in several respects. Pizza
and restaurant delivery positions are usually night shift jobs
that begin at 4 P.M. and end at 1 A.M. or 2 A.M. As anyone that
has done shift work can attest, night shifts will alter your lifestyle,
sleeping patterns, and reduce daytime friendships. Usually the
food industry requires that you provide and maintain your own
vehicle, including gasoline, insurance, depreciation, and possible
vehicle theft while making a night delivery. The rate of pay is
usually minimum wage or a flat rate of pay, such as $1.25 for
each completed delivery, plus any tips from the customers.
Pharmacy delivery is a daytime job with regular hours, typically
from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. Drug stores usually provide a car or pickup
truck with their logo on it for you to make deliveries. The store
is responsible for paying for the gasoline and maintenance of
the vehicle. Most of your clients will be elderly and in dire
need of the products you bring. Your rate of pay is minimum wage
plus infrequent tips from sickly but thankful customers.
You will most likely make less money working for a pharmacy, than
for a fast food provider because the tips and number of trips
are fewer. On the other hand, the hours are more suited to seniors,
the vehicle and accident liability are the store's responsibility,
and the social status as a pharmacy driver is much superior to
the others and is often perceived just short of an ambulance driver
To seek a position as a pharmacy driver, consider the smaller
independent pharmacies that provide home deliveries rather than
the major pharmacies located in shopping malls that depend on
walk-in customers for their business. Refer to the yellow pages
of your telephone directory to find those stores that offer home
delivery. A second source of job openings may appear in the want
ads of your local newspaper. Be prepared to begin as a part-time
driver, and bring a friendly smile and positive attitude to the
Project Nine-Organize a Musical Group
Retirees who are musically talented might consider organizing
a musical group for pleasure and/or profit. The group might specialize
in specific ethnic music, such as polkas or Irish music. It could
be a Scottish marching pipe band. It may be a classical ensemble
of strings and brass that plays at concerts and benefits, or it
might be a traditional guitar band that plays pop or country music
at traditional dances, square dances, and fall fairs. The group
may concentrate on instrumental music or have a lead singer or
a group of singers whose voices harmonize with the instruments.
The group needs a place to practice where they won't disturb
the neighbors. This might a rented hall, someone's basement, an
empty barn, a Legion Hall on non-event days, or a senior community
center. The group may consider trading free performances at a
dance hall in return for permission to practice there in the early
mornings or when the place is normally empty.
Someone from within the group or from outside the group acts
as the business manager. That person becomes responsible for booking
performances, arranging for payment, and paying each of the performers.
That person may also arrange for advertising, transportation,
and accommodation for out-of-town performances. It helps if someone
in the group owns a large van for transporting the musical instruments
as well as the players.
If you are into this, members should decide how much time they
wish to spend giving performances and being away from home. Do
you wish to be performing both Friday and Saturday nights in addition
to attending practices during the week? Do you agree to performing
at out-of-town venues? Knowing the limits of your participation
will reduce potential friction as the band gains in popularity
and success. It will also make the business manager's job easier
in selecting and arranging for performances. Successful groups
may perform at banquet hall weddings, golf club dances, conventions,
senior centers, church halls, outdoor concerts at fall fairs,
and pubs, and earn a steady income. Just because you are retired
doesn't mean that your target listening audience has to be of
the same age group. All types of organizations are willing to
pay for good musical groups who provide top entertainment, regardless
of their age.
Project Ten-Teach Golf or Tennis to Beginners
Golf and tennis are two outdoor activities that usually
require some initial training to master. The easiest way to learn
the fundamentals of these games is to have someone coach you.
If you are reasonably good at either game and you have the patience
to work with beginners, you should consider offering your services
as a personal instructor for retirees.
As a personal instructor for people in your own age group, you
will satisfy several personal needs, including socializing, being
outdoors in the fresh air, exercise, and earning money while you
are doing it. You might consider offering introductory package
deals with fixed prices for the beginner. For example: three-day
workshops for $45, five-day workshops for $75, and ten-day workshops
for $115. Offer a discount for husband and wife teams who wish
to learn the sport together in combined one-hour sessions. Collect
the fees prior to beginning the series of workshops. Also explain
to clients the costs of tennis court fees or golf green fees in
addition to their instruction fee and why the organizations charge
them. A free initial meeting with clients should be arranged to
collect the coaching fee, explain equipment and apparel requirements,
and tell them what they will learn in the series of workshops,
learn the dates of the workshops, answer their questions, and
teach the basic grip and some simple techniques of the golf or
tennis swing. You might consider the use of a van or four-wheel
drive to transport your clients with their equipment to various
training locations. Always go to those training locations several
days beforehand and talk to the manager about what you are doing
and when. Check for available times and extra costs. If you attract
several clients at the same time, schedule them on alternate days
rather than sequentially, to keep their interest in attending.
That is one group meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the
other group meets Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
Golf is the more popular of the two activities and will draw more
potential clients. The golf workshops may include sessions at
a driving range, a putting range, and 9 or 18-hole games for the
graduates. Public golf courses will be cheaper and more accessible,
unless you have arranged discounts and permission from a private
golf course to teach students on their property. The actual game
will need four players including yourself whereas the training
sessions on the driving or putting ranges will not. Past graduates
may be happy to make up a third and fourth when needed. Keep their
phone numbers for such an occasion, if they are interested.
Tennis is by far the more athletic of the two sports and general
fitness is a consideration in selecting clients, particularly
among the retirees. Be sure to book court time in advance, and
explain your needs to management for having twosome and threesome
workshops. Public tennis courts are less expensive than private
tennis clubs, unless you have a membership and guest privileges.
Marketing your services is critical to a successful coaching
venture, along with word-of-mouth advertising. It is recommended
that you design and print a color foldout brochure (using PrintMaster
software or professional printers) that contains a front graphic
of someone playing the sport, title, description of the course,
workshop packages and their costs, and instructor's name and phone
number. A professional-looking business card with a suitable sports
graphic along with your name, title (Personal Golf Instructor),
phone number, and e-mail address is a great method of advertising
and small enough to pass out to friends and neighbors to drum
Suggested locations for advertising include senior center bulletin
boards and monthly newsletters, personal guest appearances at
senior centers to explain what services you are offering, retirement
planning conventions (lots of potential business clients), and
the classified section of the newspaper. Other locations include
apartment activity bulletin boards and grocery store community
bulletin boards. Female coaches might consider having "women-only"
workshops to attract a growing female market segment and to make
their clients comfortable. Your biggest advertisement will always
be your smile and personal charm with clients. Aim to be a coach
who is fun and enjoyable to be with, and clients will line up
to take classes from you.
Excerpted from The Complete Guide to a Creative Retirement
by Rob Kelly. Copyright © 2003 by Robert Kelly. Excerpted
by arrangement with Phenix & Phenix. All rights reserved.
$17.95. Available in local bookstores or click here.
© 1995-2008 Reece R. Halpern. All rights reserved.