In 2016, 18.8% of Americans over 65 were working, and more than half were working full time, according to an analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Perhaps, some of these people just like to work, but the Government Accounting Office found that nearly 30 percent of people 65 and older had neither savings nor a pension.
If you find yourself starting over in the working world at 65 or older, here are some suggestions from people who have done it — and thrived.
Don't count on finding your dream job
When Charlie Andrews lost his health care administrative job at 62 and couldn't find another, he had very little savings and no pension. Retiring early wasn't an option. He was eventually persuaded to try medical equipment sales as an independent consultant. He had never sold anything before and wasn't sure he wanted to try, but there were opportunities that potentially could pay well. “Lots of people don't want to take on an old guy as an employee, but they'll give you a chance if you aren't an employee," he says.
Look for opportunities that have growth potential
When your income is based on commission like Andrews is, the harder you work, the more money you earn. When he first started, he made about $500 a month. These days — eight years later — he makes about $15,000 a month and can see the time coming quickly when he can finally hang up his work boots.
Talk to your financial adviser and your insurance agent
If Clark had insisted that the buyer of his business buy (and make him the beneficiary of) disability insurance, he might have avoided losing his property. Holding a life insurance policy on a buyer in this type of circumstance is also important.
If you lost your company-supplied life insurance when you were let go, or your 401(k) is still languishing in your former employer's account, now is the time to talk to the appropriate financial professionals. Do it as soon as you can.
Understand your Social Security situation
Social Security is never simple and analyzing both your own and your spouse's Social Security options is very important. It may seem like a slam-dunk that taking Social Security at the earliest possible opportunity is the right choice once you're no longer employed. But if you investigate it, you'll see that taking Social Security early is rarely the right approach.
Don't make these decisions on your own. Get expert advice on handling Social Security. Your financial adviser can help. For most people – even high-income people – Social Security is the most valuable asset available. Do your best to maximize what you're entitled to.
Look after your best interests
After Rob Reimer lost his job at 57 as an executive in the fast-food business, he spent more than a year looking for a similar position. When it seemed unlikely that he'd find another executive job, he looked for alternatives. His friend, who ran a bookkeeping business, offered him a job with a modest salary while Reimer learned the business. He took the offer, and he is now mastering its intricacies and exploring the idea of opening a similar business in a different, non-competing area. "By the time my (younger) wife is ready to retire, we can both work part time and live very comfortably," he says.
Working long after the age when most people retire isn't easy. But as many seniors are proving, it is possible, and it can be profitable, if you're creative and willing to try new things.