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Retirement Savings Shortfall? Get a Part-Time Job

Finding the right type of work might require some creativity

By Harriet Edleson

If you’re wondering how you’ll fund your retirement, which could stretch for 25 or 30 years, working part-time could be part of the solution.

Aside from the added income, a job in retirement can bring satisfaction, a sense of purpose and a way to both learn and share your knowledge with the next generation.

Working at a different pace and under less pressure than during your full-time career years can also be a good way to make up for savings shortfalls, perhaps because you needed to tap some of your funds due to the 2008 economic downturn.

Planning to Work Past 65

In fact, 82 percent of people in their 60s either expect to work past 65, already are doing so or don’t plan to retire, according the May report, Retirement Through The Ages: Expectations and Preparations of American Workers from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

Among those in their 50s, Transamerica found, 59 percent plan to work past 65 or don’t plan to retire .

“People are very practical and will find a way to earn money to bridge savings shortfalls,” said Catherine Collinson, President of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

More than 7 in 10 pre-retirees say they want to work in retirement, according to the June 2014 Merrill Lynch study conducted with Age Wave, Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations: Career Reinventions and the New Retirement Workscape. “These are people who would like to work and stay engaged or need to work and stay engaged but want to do it on different terms,” said Tim Driver, founder of, a site that lists jobs and resources for workers 50 and older.

Finding Age-Friendly Employers

The best strategy, Driver said, is to winnow out the “age-unfriendly” employers from the “age-friendly” ones. has a Certified Age-Friendly Employer program that identifies organizations it deems the “best places” to work for employees age 50 and older. There are currently 5,500 postings at such employers. (You need to either create a free account at the site or apply to a job listing there to see the list.)

If you’re currently out of work — whether you retired, were downsized or your business was bought out — it’s worth taking the time to analyze your total financial picture before looking for a part-time job. Ask yourself: How much money do I need to make? It’s possible you’ll have to adjust your lifestyle to fit your budget.

A retirement job may make the difference between living within a very tight budget and a lifestyle with some expendable income you can use for travel, classes, theater or whatever you enjoy doing.

Running the Numbers

“Start with an estimate of what you need, your current and future income needs,” Driver said. “It comes down to how you’re going to fund those extra years.”

Typically, retirees spend more money on travel and leisure activities when they first retire and more on health care in later years.


In addition to analyzing your finances (income and assets as well as monthly expenses and any debts), reflect on activities you’ve previously enjoyed but haven’t had time to pursue lately. Whether it’s spending more time with your family or sharpening your bridge skills, prioritize your preferences.

“You don’t need to earn as much as you might think if you’re willing to make adjustments,” Driver said. “It’s thinking about life in a different way.”

This may be easier for women than for men, he noted. Driver said that among boomers, especially older ones, typically “men grew up thinking their job is their identity.” Woman are more willing to use a retirement job as a “transition role,” he said.

Next, make a target list of local employers that might need someone with your skills. Certain sectors are more receptive to older workers, though for legal reasons, do not say so in written policy statements. They might have older customers and prefer older customer service workers, for example, Driver noted. Elder care is another area where older workers are sought out, he said.

Using Your Creativity to Find or Create Work

Finding the kind of part-time work you’ll enjoy in retirement might require some creativity.

Reach out to people in your LinkedIn or personal network, or gradually build a new network by attending seminars, lectures or conferences. Read local general and business newspapers in print or online to find nearby events that can help you increase your network.

Another way to offset a savings shortfall is to turn your hobby into a paying job, said Scot Hanson, a financial planner in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., area.

Some golfers work at golf pro shops; fishing fans take on jobs at bait and tackle shops. Pro sports enthusiasts bring in extra money as ballpark ushers. Some retired people with passions for pets become dog walkers.

"They’re helping people and it gets a paycheck coming in," Hanson said. "They just need a little bit more (money) to carry them through and make it a little easier. They want to share what they’ve learned.”

Harriet Edleson Read More
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