Recent retirees and people about to wrap up their careers often find themselves asking: Now what? Fortunately, there are many options for retirees looking for their next challenge, according to the editors of Consumer Reports Money Adviser. They can continue to work, move into a new career, volunteer — or even go back to school.
Their decision might hinge on whether they can afford to fully retire, especially as home values continue to fall in many areas and a volatile stock market chips away at 401(k) balances. And, of course, there’s the cost of health care to contend with. A study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that 65-year-old males generally will need to save $196,000 to cover their healthcare premiums during retirement; for females, who live longer, it’s $224,000.
For some, the solution is to keep working, either in the same job or in something completely different. And even if money isn’t an issue, work can provide satisfaction and camaraderie.
If retirement is on the horizon, here are some tips from Consumer Reports Money Adviser that can help retirees stay productive, no matter which path they choose.
Keep Working (SUB SUBHEAD)
Those who stay in the workforce in their 60s and beyond might find lots of their peers in neighboring offices. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of workers 55 and older will have grown at more than five times the rate of the overall workforce, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects. Here’s how to start a job hunt:
— Take stock of skills. Retirees should think about what they’d really like to do and then think about what skills they have that are transferable. Accounting, fundraising, marketing, computer and communications skills are in high demand now.
— Use searchable databases. Some Web sites list employment opportunities for older workers. For example, AARP’s National Employer Team recently listed job openings at 39 major employers, including AT&T, Home Depot and the Internal Revenue Service. For information, visit www.aarp.org and click on Money.
— Talk to the boss. Someone who’s still working should tell their boss they’d like to stay on with the company and in what capacity. Be up front about needs. If healthcare coverage is more important than salary, for example, negotiate hard for better benefits using a reduced salary as a bargaining chip.
Lend a Hand(SUB SUBHEAD)
As the population of retirees grows, nonprofits might benefit. A 2007 study by the Urban Institute notes that 45 percent of retirees engage in formal volunteer activities, even though only 34 percent had volunteered when they were working. Consumer Reports Money Adviser suggests these ways of finding a group that can use a hand:
— Do some digging. Check out what’s available through churches, community centers or town government. To support groups with a national or international reach, go right to the source, such as the Web sites of Habitat for Humanity, the Sierra Club and the United Way.
— Check out the job requirements. After zeroing in on a group, see if any specialized training is required.
Back to School (SUB SUBHEAD)
New skills might be needed to keep working in retirement, especially for those who want to move into another field.
— Include education in a relocation search. Anyone who expects to move when retiring should check out the offerings for older students at nearby colleges. For example, the College for Seniors at the University of North Carolina at Asheville offers courses that run from $55 to $115 a semester.
— Look for a discount close by. Call the admissions office of nearby schools to find out about breaks on tuition. The Institutes for Learning in Retirement (ILR), a division of Elderhostel, runs classes in more than 375 communities across the United States. Courses are held at a host college or university. To find an ILR group, contact the Elderhostel Institute Network (617-422-0784; www.elderhostel.org).
Visit the Consumer Reports Web site at www.consumerreports.org.