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We often like to think of retirement as a clean break from the world of work into a life of leisure. But maybe you won’t need to a break so much as a better blend. There are compelling reasons why maintaining some form of gainful employment into the retirement years has a rightful place in retirement planning:

  1. People are living well past 65 these days, as much as 30 years beyond—preparing for that many years may require a balanced approach
  2. Relying at least partially on earned income in the early retirement years preserves more investment wealth for the later years when working may not be possible
  3. Earned income can offset a shortfall in retirement assets
  4. It can provide a form of diversification against a downturn in the stock market
  5. Working can keep you active, alert and engaged for many years
  6. Just because you hit retirement age doesn’t mean you won’t have anything of value to offer

Extend RetirementThe idea isn’t to carry a full time occupation into retirement—that wouldn’t be retirement at all—but rather to have an activity that can provide a much needed income supplement. While you’re planning, saving and managing your retirement portfolio, preparation for an earned income source may have its place.

How to Find a Retirement Career

Some career ventures can take a few years of advance planning so you may want to start working now to make yours a reality at retirement. If you decide to include a post-retirement career in your retirement plans where can you look for opportunities?

Downshifting on your current job

The job you’re doing just prior to retirement is often the first, best place to look for a supplemental income. You’ll be doing what you know for an employer you’re familiar with and that can make the transition smoother. Approach your employer with a plan to work in a reduced capacity. The arrangement can be part time, seasonal, or on a “when-needed” basis. Nearly every employer needs flexible staff, and as an insider you’re in a prime position to assume the roll. And you can be more flexible than most because you’re not looking for a full time paycheck. It may be best to discuss this with your employer at least a year or more ahead of your retirement. That will give both sides a chance to work out the details, or even to create an opportunity that doesn’t presently exist.

Consulting in your field of expertise

After 30-40 years in a career, you’ll probably have a lot of insight on what makes your field or industry work in a way that the foot soldiers who are still in the game full time don’t. That experience will probably be worth something to various employers in your field. Over the years you built your professional network, and these are the people who can help you land the consulting assignments you’re looking for and that will make the venture that much easier. Plan on keeping your career networking contacts active well into retirement.

Trying something entirely new

For many retirees, the chance to leave their job and their industry is precisely what retirement is all about. If this describes you, it may work better for you to make a clean break from your lifelong occupation and to try your hand at something entirely different. You can try to enter a field that’s related to the one you’re in now or one that’s completely different—the choice will be completely open. One factor that makes this more doable—and far less risky—is that in retirement you don’t need to concern yourself with a fat paycheck and a full benefits package. Instead of being a time to kick back and cash out, retirement can offer you the opportunity to do what ever work you like.

Starting your own business

Many people have a dream of starting their own business, but when you have a family to support, a mortgage to pay and a retirement to fund, doing so may exceed your risk tolerance. But once you’re retired, all of that will be gone and you’ll be free to take those chances you only imagined earlier in life! Starting your own business will probably take longer to make happen than other income earning ventures and will require the most planning. It can take several years to develop a profitable business, and should you go this route you may want to consider doing it on a part time basis well ahead of retirement.

Doing something fun!

Do you ever dream of breaking out of the career mold and doing something that’s fun? How about a hobby that you’d like to do for money? It may not be practical to do such a thing when you have significant obligations that have to be planned out and paid for, but retirement is a time for just such adventures. Do you like music? Sports? Teaching? Working in a creative capacity? How about working at a resort property? There are income opportunities connected with each of these, and while they may not be lucrative, getting paid to do what you love is always a win-win. You can do just about anything you can imagine—if it’s something you love and there’s a chance to make money doing it, it qualifies!

Diversification is a necessary part of investing; having some form of earned income is a way to diversify retirement resources. Is a post-retirement career part of your retirement plans?

Photo by RogueSun Media via Flickr

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