Retirement isn’t what it used to be.
With the Social Security Administration struggling to keep up with the number of Americans living well past retirement age, many older people are retiring early to ensure they receive the benefits that they’ve been paying into all those years punching the clock five mornings a week.
When we formally retire from your professional career and begin living out our “golden years,” sometimes we find that we aren’t quite yet ready to completely stop working.
For the lucky among us, at some point, we find a job or a career that is or becomes our passion and enables us to feel like each day is an adventure and a gift, not just a sludge through the hours of the day focused on the paycheck every two weeks.
Giving that feeling up, even if it means getting to do things we are also passionate about: travel, reading, time with family, can be difficult, and for many, it can be downright unpleasant and unwanted.
Thus, many senior citizens choose to continue working part-time or working for themselves in some capacity after they step down from full-time positions. Before going on, please be advised that if you continue to work in any role after filing to receive your Social Security retirement benefits, you may be penalized by the government based on how much income you are earning.
As the government’s thresholds for earnings based on your present age vary, and change from year to year, consulting with an accountant or visiting the Social Security website (http://www.ssa.gov), is an excellent idea before accepting a job or starting your own business.
With that said, let’s talk about working part-time. Staying employed can be done for the very company you just retired from, in roles such as consultant or advisor, or even done remotely, meaning you use your home computer to access the company’s network and work a limited number of hours in a similar capacity to your previous full-time role.
If you want to branch out into other industries than what your career entailed, there are always seasonal and part-time positions available in stores and companies all over the US. Among the more prominent retailers, Walmart has long been a leader in hiring senior citizens, often as greeters and checkers. Other organizations that regularly employ senior citizens include:
- National Parks Service
- Call Centers
- Cleaning Services
If working for someone else has lost its appeal to, going into business for yourself has never been more accessible than in the current digital technology revolution our country is experiencing.
With a personal computer, a sellable commodity or skill, and a few tips and tricks on the Internet, you can market yourself or your product to millions of customers. Don’t believe me? My dad retired at age 50 and has spent the last 20 years running an eBay business from his home office.
He visits garage sales and estate sales a few times a week, buys items of value, lists them on eBay and sells them for healthy profits. In the first few years of this business, he came across a Texas Christian University college yearbook signed by football legend Davey O’Brien, and a rare rotary telephone from the 1950s that sold the next week online for more than $5,000.
If you like to make things – clothing, decorations, jewelry, or crafts, then the website Etsy should be your first stop when considering an online business. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can set up a storefront, take pictures of your items for sale, and find customers of all sorts with keywords such as “baby clothes,” “religious artwork,” etc. You can include the cost of shipping in your price, and customers can pay you safely and securely over a host of online sites, the most prevalent of which is Paypal.
If you have a skill that is in demand, that is also a great way to start a business on your own. Proofreading, graphic design, computer programming, marketing, customer service, and more are all services that are in constant demand from a host of businesses large and small spanning the entire world.
Freelance markets like Upwork and Fiverr have sprung up and become a hub for clients and contractors to meet and do business together, often without exchanging anything more than a set of emails or instant messages.
While setting up your own business with a computer is easy, there are plenty of rules you still need to follow to make sure you are toeing the government line. The most significant part of that is remembering to pay taxes on the money you make in your new business.
The easiest way to do this is to set up four quarterly estimated tax payments. Doing this allows you to send an estimated sum of how much money you owe the federal government once every three months to lessen the burden come April 15th.
While taxes will always stink, owning your own business will also give you the opportunity to write off deductions that you previously could not. If you have converted the spare bedroom of your home into a home office for your new business, you can write off a percentage of your utility costs, property taxes, and even your rent or mortgage payment as a business expense.
The easiest way to do this is to get out a tape measure and get the square footage (length x width) of your home office. Divide that by the total square footage of the house to get a percentage. You can apply that percentage to all of your utility bills along with your mortgage/rent and use these as deductions.
Other write-offs to consider are mileage and necessary car expenses if you travel for work. Like the home office write-off, you have to document how often you are using the car for work and apply a percentage of that to money spent on gas and simple maintenance like getting the oil changed.
As long as you keep your paperwork in order, you can run a small business as long as you want after reaching retirement age.