Yahoo News is publishing first-person perspectives from Americans 65 or older who have returned to the workforce after retiring or who have picked up a second job to bolster their income. These personal stories come on the heels of an Associated Press poll that says 82 percent of workers 50 and older say it's at least somewhat likely they will work during their retirement years. Forty-seven percent, meanwhile, said they'll retire later than planned. Here's one account.
FIRST PERSON | Am I really setting the alarm again, packing my lunch again, scraping the windshield again, heading out for work again in the early morning? At age 71? I'm afraid so.
"Nannying" an adorable 2-year-old girl is my new job and has been since she was 6 weeks old. When her parents go to work, I come to their house and take over. Bottles, diapers, dressing, feedings, naps, walks, stories, songs, games -- all the normal daily activities that are required caring for babies and toddlers. The problem is the parents only need me two days a week. At $12 an hour, that's just $192 a week. Add $1,200 a month in Social Security to that, and it's still not enough. Add my husband's Social Security and guess what? Still not enough. I need another nanny job or income source, as my other after-school nanny job ended when the older children became responsible enough to take care of the younger one.
So I'm looking for job No. 2. In the past two months, I have applied for 10 part-time nanny jobs, and four pet-sitting and pet-walking jobs in Indianapolis. Not only have I not been hired, I have only heard back from one ad on care.com, with a polite rejection that told me essentially nothing: "Sorry, we are pursuing other applicants."
News flash: Seventy-one-year-olds are not a valued commodity in the job market. (Many nanny ads call for someone young and active, in their teens or 20s.)
A friend in my age group was horrified to think of "having to re-enter the work force at your age!" As if we should be entitled to retire. My grandparents never got to retire. I remember Gramp going out to his shop every day to make cabinets. They rented out their upstairs for income. Grandma worked in a neighborhood store through her 70s. So I'm not surprised when I see senior citizens welcoming me at Walmart or serving up fast food, and I wonder: Were they once executives or accountants, and now just need to augment their Social Security payments? Personally, I resent the fact that a number (like 71) could conceivably keep me out of the work force, or discourage prospective employers from even considering me. I feel I'm just as qualified as I ever was, despite a bit less stamina.
Personal flash: I am constitutionally incapable of sitting on my duff and doing nothing all day. I need structure, something that keeps one day from rolling seamlessly into the next. I need to be out among 'em, interacting. OK, I do have some limitations in my old age. I cannot be on my feet all day, so that eliminates most retail jobs, from sales to waitressing to cashiering. I don't want to work full-time, which eliminates most office jobs. But nannying and pet-sitting and -walking are great options, especially since I love children and animals and am still quite active. (I'm at the gym four times a week.)
Don't get me wrong, I have impressive qualifications for things nobody wants to pay me to do anymore: I can create, produce and place TV and radio commercials. I can write and produce advertising jingles. For years I operated my own small-scale advertising agency. However, my six-figure income diminished by about $20,000 each year over the years to a few thousand a year to zero this year. It seems my clients are suffering in this poor economy too. During the high-income days, I had a big mortgage, high office overhead, two car payments, two boys in college, and auto insurance through the roof. So if you were wondering if I had to tap into my savings, my answer would be: "What savings?"
I have quite recently remarried, so now we have two Social Security payments a month, plus some money from my husband's investments. We're in the $30,000 to $50,000 range annually, so we do pretty well, except when a refrigerator breaks down, a pipe bursts causing a flood in the dining room, a car quits running, or a sick dog requires thousands of dollars in vet care. Many of the things we formerly took for granted are luxuries now. Dinner out with a bottle of wine? Now a rarity. A movie with popcorn and sodas? No longer a regular occurrence. A new pet? We have to calculate the cost of vet bills, food, grooming. The belt-tightening never stops.
Listen, I'm a scrappy old gal, and a survivor. Until a second job manifests, I can always write.
- Employment & Career