Onward and Upward: Encore Careers

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By Lyn Dippel

Many of my female clients and peers at the peak of their careers are re-examining their lives in terms of their values. Given the disproportionate amount of time they devote to work, many women want to dedicate their time in ways that speak to their hearts. I have asked my colleague Mary Thompson, Principal at FAI Wealth Management, whose own passion is helping people make this leap to step in as a guest writer for this column.

We have been trained to look at our lives in three distinct phases: education, work and retirement. A growing group of people and organizations are disrupting this model with an alternative stage of life between work and retirement (See encore. org.). The encore phase is life redesigned to focus on what inspires you in a way that will enable you to remain actively engaged. Many choose an encore career, so they can continue to earn an income between work and full retirement. Those who are able to retire without income may choose social activism or a volunteer career.

– Extending income: Extending the time you work, including part-time work, can have a more significant impact on the sustainability of your retirement savings than stockpiling savings in a mad frenzy the final years before retirement. A Time magazine article highlighted research by Morningstar’s Dave Blanchett indicating that even part-time income can increase the chances of your portfolio lasting until age 90.

– Having an impact: Although many of us enjoy our jobs, they may not necessarily be what we imagined when we graduated from college. An encore career is the perfect time to reconstruct the next 10-20 years of our lives contributing with a long-forgotten or newly discovered passion or vocation.

– Quality of life trade-off: According to Barry Schwartz in Why We Work, “90 percent of adults spend half their waking lives doing things they would rather not be doing at places they would rather not be.” While an encore career can make you happy, the trade-off may require you to re-evaluate your lifestyle.

– Health care: As the number of employers who provide health insurance for retirees or spouses declines, bridging the gap between full-time work and Medicare eligibility is becoming increasing difficult. The current disarray of the insurance marketplace combined with the uncertainty of legislative reform makes it difficult to plan ahead. Check out healthcare.gov/part-timeworkers for more information about health insurance options for part-time employees and entrepreneurs.

– Gig jobs/side hustles: Part-time employment can be leveraged to find or explore options without quitting your current job. For example, a woman who is a social worker by day is moonlighting as a florist to find out if she can transform a hobby into an encore career. For ideas or stories about re-envisioning retirement see www. aarp.org/work/working-at-50-plus.

In the U.S., more than 31 million people between the ages of 44 and 70 are exploring encore careers. These pioneers are re-imagining retirement by seeking out new possibilities and paving the way for many of us to follow. As with any major financial decision, adequate planning and research are important to ensure you stay on target and avoid major mistakes.

Lyn Dippel, JD, CFP®, president of FAI Wealth Management, provides financial planning and investment manage¬ment for transitions such as retirement, career changes, sale of a business, relocation and inheritance.

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