Over Sixty and Out of Work
Being over sixty and out of work can be a very daunting experience. I want to expose some issues and then offer options.
Your Home is Your Castle
Home ownership has been a tenant of being middle class. Unfortunately, we have traditionally recovered from recessions by moving to where the jobs exist. That has not happened in this recovery. The house is a giant boat anchor!
Note: I originally wrote this post in April 2013. It was updated in December of 2017
We have the lowest level of mobility since this has been measured. The collapse of the housing industry has frozen many in their homes.
On the other hand, I live in Austin, Texas. We did not experience the housing bubble to the extent the rest of the country did. I was talking with an over sixty and out of work woman whose profession can no longer be found in Austin, but she is bound and determined to stay here. She loves her house and lifestyle.
There are times when it is time to throw in the towel and move.
Yeah, yeah, I know you love the big house, yard, garage to store all of your stuff!
Is your home a boat anchor?
I Need a Job that Will Last 10 Years Until I Retire!
I hear this over and over. It ain’t happening! A little over ten years ago Facebook did not exist!
What skills will be required in ten years? I do not have a clue?
I just read the Intuit 2020 report that stated that 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancers or contractors by 2020.
Note: The Intuit 2020 report was written in 2010. It is almost spot on with most of its predictions.
We have seen creative destruction accelerate at an amazing rate. I wrote about creative destruction in my post, Surviving Creative Destruction in the 2nd Half of Life. Your next job will not last 10 years because there is a high probability that it will be SMACed. Social, Mobile, Analytics, and Cloud.
Are you ready to freelance or work contracts?
Are you a Knowledge or a Service Worker?
The Great Reset as described in Richard Florida’s book The Great Reset: How the Post-Crash Economy Will Change the Way We Live and Work states that we are rapidly moving to two-tier employment scheme:
- Knowledge workers
- Service workers
The middle tier skill jobs are being replaced by automation. I just saw an article that stated that manufacturing is returning to America but just not the manufacturing jobs.
If you are over sixty and out of work you really need to assess whether you are a knowledge or service worker. If you want to be a knowledge worker you may very well need to beef up your skills! There is nothing wrong with being a service worker. It just does not pay as well!
You cannot buy happiness!
Downsize everything! We sold the big house and bought a condo. Greatly reduced our living expenses. I traded in my 2003 Honda Element last year for a two-year-old Subaru Outback and my wife drives a Honda hybrid. I drive 3-4000 miles a year. We spend half of what we used to spend. By the way, we are happy!
Expand your geographic boundaries. Like I stated earlier, I live in Austin Texas. Austin is still a government/university town. The metro area is over a million people, but we have little manufacturing or distribution, few major company headquarters, and lots and lots of small businesses.
In the last few years, Dell, which is headquartered in Round Rock just North of Austin, has cut back on their manufacturing, and therefore, they have let go some very talented logistics people. There are not a plethora of logistics jobs in Austin. I tell them to look to relocate. They do not want to relocate!
Part of my business plans is to move abroad and take my business with me. You can read about the process in the following posts:
- How to Move Abroad and Take Your Job With You
- How to Move Abroad and Take Your Job With You – Part II
I created Career Pivot to be a virtual business where I could serve my clients from anywhere. I am now creating an online community where those of us in the 2nd half of life can gather together to support one another and I can provide training and group coaching.
We Are Moving!
Yes, my wife and I have decided to move to Ajijic Mexico in 2018. The decision centers around cost of living, health insurance and taxes in the United States. You can learn more by listening to the podcast Why The Millers are Moving to Mexico and How They Will Do It! [Podcast]
You Do Have Options
Jobs are changing and moving around the world. You may have to move to the job!
If you are over sixty and out of work, are you willing to relocate? At your own expense? Are you willing to have a sense of adventure and relocate abroad?
Be prepared to freelance. With the right skills, many employers will hire you for 6-12 month contract positions. I have two former clients who have their project manager certification, PMP, and are happily working 6-12 month contracts. I know of many people doing this today!
Build an Online Business – In 2017, I joined the Flipped Lifestyle community to assist me in creating the Career Pivot Community. This is two former Kentucky school teachers who help people build online businesses, primarily membership websites, to assist their members in flipping their lifestyles.
I know this is the message you want to hear! The world is changing, and it is not going to stop for you.
I am now over 60 and this is not what I expected when I wrote this post in 2013. I am drinking my own Koolaid and moving where it make the most sense.
Have I missed something? You tell me by leaving a comment…. please. Particularly, if you are over sixty and out of work!Marc Miller
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Barb Clauson says
Also consider “semi-relocation,’ leaving house & spouse to hold down the Austin fort and taking a job wherever it is. I’ve had to do this. It’s not great paying rent and living apart from my spouse, but we’re keeping our eyes on the prize – a more secure retirement. Here in San Diego I’ve met dozens of people in my situation. We do what we have to do.
I am seeing this over and over. People are relocating for their jobs, either permanently or temporarily. With the layoffs in the semi-conductor industry in Austin, I know a few folks who are picking up and leaving.
Thank you so much for this blog entry. I sent it to my husband to get him to move with me.
Could you add a little more detail to your story?
Marc, I am not 60 either, but I want my husband to move with me in terms of downsizing and relocating to Sarasota, Florida, a place recommended for retirees. It just makes sense to move to a place where the cost of living is lower so that any income you can make will last longer. In addition, in our technology-enabled society, we can work nearly anywhere if we are knowledge workers that employers only want to hire as consultants anyway.
I recently had a good friend who moved to Ft. Meyers. It was much cheaper to live, and her business was virtual. She could live anywhere.
Marc and Lisa:
In retirement areas (IE Florida), although the cost of living is lower, so (often) also is the cost of services that you can charge for, in many cases. There are so many retirees working on the side as contractors there that they often undercut each other thereby driving down what people can charge for their services. Just something to think about and factor in. It may be more lucrative to downsize in place and be able to produce a higher income. But then again, I’m in Pittsburgh and it’s already pretty affordable to live here.
Notice I said my friend’s business was virtual. Her clientele were not located in Ft. Meyers but all over the country.
Over 60 and out of work… yep.. this is my story too. I’ll be 61 in June and fortunate to have had a fairly well paying job in IT (without a college degree) but not so financially well off that I want to quit work. Besides.. work is not just about money. For me.. it’s about remaining socially engaged, mentally challenged, and an active contributor.
I do agree with the blog in that many of the mid-level jobs will not return. Automation whether delivered via mobility applications or robotics in manufacturing will continue to eat away at historical opportunities. Tough decisions lie ahead.
This is where people in the baby boomer generation have some grand beliefs about retirement. I believe that if you stop work and do nothing you will die sooner than later. Most of us need a purpose in life.
Cynthia Rapak says
I think this may be an area where women have an advantage. Being a housewife, mother, caretaker for older relatives is often a role women have played at one time or another in their life and found meaning.
Totally with you on the two points you made. That is… Baby Boomers have false expectations of retirement (might argue that many see it as an escape from being being overworked and under appreciated rather than the reward they’ve worked so hard for) and they have not fully digested what it means to “quit working”. Retirement is so much more than being prepared finanicially and it highlights the other point you made… that of needing purpose in our lives.
I’d love to see companies AND workers embace retirement planning well beyond the financial component and long before a target date is confirmed.
We are in agreement. I think the term retirement is broken. I do not plan to ever “retire” other than to die.
David Kelder says
I was forced into retirement after 37 1/2 years. I was planning to work a few more years and was angry. What I then experienced was less stress in my life and the opportunity to volunteer in my community. I worked with at risk elementary kids in science and math. It was teaching with no pay and no paperwork and fulfilled a long time dream of mine. I am now enjoying more time to spend on Bible study and have joined a group of men that meets at oh dark thirty for a devotional breakfast. At the urging of my family, I am writing down my experiences as a US Marine Corp Sargent who served and survived 22 months in Vietnam. I am adding reflections on my corporate experiences. While still somewhat resentful of the way I was treated, I now recognize it as a blessing. Having planned for retirement and not having put all my eggs in one basket, left me without the need for a job after retirement. I do recognize that good luck and good timing both worked in my favor. ,
Some times we need a kick is the a** to get us out of the rut we are in. We may not even realize that we are in that rut.
So congratulations. Let me know if you need help in producing a book from your experiences. I can refer you to a number of resources.
Part of this story is nonsense. Sorry for the harsh reality, but if home ownership is a “giant boat anchor” then renting is a “giant boat” – just something you throw money into and never pay off. What is the alternative? Living under a bridge. Home ownership is your best security IF you didn’t so anything foolish like take out a 200% line of credit to remodel the kitchen and take an extravagant vacation.
I’m just a gen-x-er, but I regularly look at my 401k and other investments to estimate how long we would be able to live in our present status and how long we could go if we had to stretch our savings a long way. Sorry for the lack of sympathy, but if I’m able to do this in my 40’s, then why doesn’t someone with 20 years seniority seem to be able to do this?
IMHO (that’s In my humble opinion), your 60’s are the age at which you should start enjoying life a little more and working less – or at least doing something you enjoy. *** opinion alert ***
I hear about people at work who have 30+ years of service with the same company getting “forced out” with a phat compensation package and I think to myself, “I wish”.
If you are unemployed and are unable to relocate because you cannot sell your house then it is a boat anchor. This has happened to millions. Your statement about if you are in your 60’s you should start enjoying life more.
Fact #1 – 80% of baby boomers will be not able to retire as planned.
Fact #2 – the average baby boomer has approximately $80K saved for retirement
Fact #3 – 42% of baby boomers have less than $25K saved for retirement
Fact #4 – 25% have nothing saved.
The numbers are mind numbing ugly. Check out the latest article on PBS Next avenue http://www.nextavenue.org/blog/retirement-gamble-were-all-making
Do you personally know of someone who has gotten forced out with a huge package. I do not. I do have lots of friends who will never be able to retire. EVER.
Opinion alert – There are millions in this country that are either underwater on their loans and yes their homes are boat anchors.
Plus, if you REALLY believe what the financial industry is telling you… well watch the PBS Frontline episode mentioned in the link above.
Wow, I’m not crazy after all – I’ve been telling my own Father for at least to: 1) sell the 4000 sq. ft. house that was once, long ago (I’m almost 30) a home, 2) sell at least ONE of the BMWs whose yearly upkeep costs $$$$?, and 3) that he could make very good money as a freelance/contract worker (as I do), given his 33 years of experience as a computer systems analyst in industries that are converting to new systems now.
He ignores me, calls me crazy, tells me it is “a new generation’s turn to work” (suggesting I should help to pay for a household I have not been a member of for 10 years), and pouts at the mention of selling the house. My own opinion of the baby boomers is not the highest. I’ve sent my dad about 10 articles from your blog including this one. I doubt he will even bother to read them, but for those who do – take this advice, do not end up a miserable man in a catacomb with hundreds of thousands of consumer debt like my Father has become. Freedom is rather pleasant at all ages (though, no, I do not have the years of experience some may think is required of me to make such an outlandish suggestion!).
Jennifer L. Reimer
You are not crazy. We, baby boomers, have a lot of belief systems that are rooted in acquiring “stuff”.
Good to hear back, Marc! I’d love to hear your theory on just why that is, as it’s always seemed to be one of the ultimate ironies to me, and with a graduate education in sociology, I still have never heard one! Just how did the same generation that fought so hard against capitalism/materialism, along with the various civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, become obsessed with “stuff-aquisition”?
My Father has done some significant damage to me, as I learned from him (my only living biological parent) that if you are not bringing in enough money to buy everything you want (needs are something I don’t think he even understands anymore) and then some, you are nothing short of a FAILURE. I have a decent career in journalism, but my younger sister, who has fulfilled the “become a doctor” vicarious-dream (doctor or lawyer being the options we were told were acceptable as children, teens, and now adults – my sister is 22), I will never match her in his eyes, not in any other sphere of life (like what? lol), because I didn’t come out quite programmed enough at, what 18? She’s not done college yet…he pays for hers, he did not for mine. I had a job when I was 15, unless you count babysitting – I handed out flyers in my neighborhood after taking the babysitting course. My sister didn’t do all that, but she’s going to be a doctor, one day and will have more stuff than me, or at least that’s his fear/logic. I’ve had to take a big step away from that household – of course, she still lives at his house, “how practical”…
You have a false assumption that Baby Boomer were behind all of the social unrest of the 60’s. It was actually the Silent generation that were the rabble rousers. Joan Biaz, Bob Dylan, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, The Smothers Brothers,….. All of the silent generation. Baby Boomers were along for the ride!
Baby Boomers were the first generation to be exposed to mass marketings (television). Unlike our parents (Greatest Generation) who were extremely frugal, we spent and spent and spent. It is often referred to an echo effect of generations. Does that help?
Yes, actually!! And wow, that is fascinating, because this is such a basic pattern, statistically speaking, but when I was a sociology student, statistics/quantitative research was not en vogue and it’s one of those theories that aren’t even in the textbooks anymore (Baby Boomers wrote my textbooks)…it would be interesting to know historically, how many times generational groupings, which I am fascinated by, have moved to a third (there are in theory four, and then a fifth “unproductive” group, too in this theory…it’s the basis for “critical mass”, the popular current “evolutionary biological theory”…it was based on the observation of wheat growth, as influenced by people directly, though.) Anyhow, I don’t think post-Boomer generations are inclined to know the Greatest Generation as such in their own reality…on one side I had religious zealots, on the other working class problems common among…non religious zealots of the working class? I feel like their offspring, because they accomplished some “class mobility” (like ownership of huge flat TV sets!), they feel superior…
You are right though on the money front! My dad will still cite, without fail, my raging alcoholic wife-beating, child-abusing (without using those adjectives) maternal grandfather when he very hypocritically (does it make him feel better?) talks about “never opening your wallet, that’s how you save” or something rather trite.
All very interesting. This was actually a problem that ancient Greek philosophers struggled with: the generation that has plenty, the inevitable product of one that does not. Fascinating. One would think we’d have gotten past that by now, at least once or twice…?? 😉
Cindy Kyser says
I am delighted to discover your blog! It is very meaningful to see your experience and insight as a baby-boomer and I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts.
My husband’s company shut down in Arkansas as he turned 59. Then, my company ‘downsized’ and ended my employment as I turned 59. We do not want to relocate and have chosen to be debt free in an area where the cost of living is reasonable, instead. For a number of years, we’ve focused on debit elimination and maximizing 401K contributions. I am looking at contract work and am willing to do some traveling, as needed.
Perhaps I am naive, but I believe that things will work out and that we will be fine as long as we maintain fiscal responsibility and are realistic. It is not likely that either of us will begin a new ‘traditional’ career at this age or that we will replace outr previous earnings.
I am celebrating stress reduction and the end of the 60 hour work week. I love having more time to do some things I’ve missed out on for years. Earning a living is important but not the sole focus of my life now. We are looking at creative ways to be ‘semi-retired’ at 60.
I am happy you found this website. I definitely understand how you feel about stress reduction. When I left my last corporate gig, I was stressed out. My nerves were frayed. Never again.
Mike Martin says
I did a 2 year stint in Houston for Harris county metro while my spouse held down the fort in Austin. I wound up purchasing a 21 foot trailer and parking it at an rv resort. It beat the pants off living in a more expensive apartment and I was able to pull it to the beach on weekends. This chapter in life also was a wake up call to how fluid things have become. We arenow getting rid of our junk and getting ready to sell the big house and pay off our debts. We don’t need an anchor preventing us from doing the things that inevitability are coming our way. My parents are still living and are in another city and will need our help maybe sooner than later.
Life can be very fluid.
Les Brown says
I agree with the comment about a house being an anchor. While home ownership is a great thing from a macroeconomic level it can be a terrible thing on a personal economic level…assuming that if you rent you are able to save an equivalent amount of money in another alternative investment, but most don’t.
When I was studying Economic Geography in the 1990’s we looked at how this affected rust belt cities in the 1970/80’s and the lack of mobility that this created as the jobs moved to the sunbelt was huge. As the jobs moved the real estate values collapsed, and people could not afford to move to where the new jobs were, creating a vicious cycle of unemployment and further economic decline that we call structural unemployment. Home ownership ties you to a location and sometimes it is not helpful when the jobs move.
With new jobs being less location dependent this should be better but for us old geezers its a tuff change to accept.