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The Retirement Road Less Traveled

Working longer, or part time in retirement, can make a difference in your finances

While Barbara P. is right that health professionals and truck drivers are both in hot demand, there are literally thousands of other great second-career jobs out there for the 50-plus. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Call center or customer service opportunities are growing, and they offer flexible scheduling and the opportunity to work from home. If you have patience, good telephone etiquette and good people skills, this may be a good option for you.
  • Good people skills and personality can also help you land a job as a museum docent, tour guide or senior companion.
  • If you speak another language fluently, then translation work might be a route to explore.
  • What if you've got a stellar driving record? You may not want to become a truck driver, but what about seasonal chauffeuring — you could do high school proms in the spring and weddings in the summer.
  • Retired educators might consider tutoring — it satisfies the urge to mentor and teach and still leaves plenty of time for other pursuits. Former educators and issue experts might also consider adjunct faculty positions, teaching one or two college classes per semester.

Retirement planning — especially in the midst of economic chaos — calls for serious outside-the-box thinking. Jose and Jill Ferrer, a New Jersey couple, really nailed it. They lived on one spouse's salary for five years before retiring, while saving every penny of the other salary and maximizing their 401(k) plans.

When they retired, they sold their house and bought a motor home, and they've spent the past seven years traveling the country at their leisure. The couple created an ad-supported RV-focused website where they post pictures and write about the places they visit. Items purchased through the ads on their site earn the Ferrers about $700 in monthly income.

While I am encouraging you to take charge of your own future, AARP is still in the workforce advocating on your behalf. AARP's Best Employers for Workers Over 50 recognizes and promotes organizations that value and respect older workers. AARP Foundation has a litigation team that works on broad-reaching age discrimination cases. The foundation also sponsors WorkSearch Information Network, an online resource that guides you through the entire job search process from start to finish. And our "water cooler" is an online community where you can seek and share advice about finding a job, jump-starting a new career or business, tackling age hang-ups and more.

As Nancy LeaMond, AARP's executive vice president, told the award-winners gathered at this year's Best Employers event, "There's a new word for retirement in America, and it's called 'work.'" We may not have expected to work into our 60s, but it doesn't have to be a bad thing. A little preparation today can help you achieve financial security — and personal fulfillment — tomorrow.

Jean C. Setzfand is vice president of financial security at AARP.

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