Take It Easy: What You Should Know About Semi-Retirement

Source: Thinkstock
Source: Thinkstock

Retirement is something most people work toward their entire career. However, switching from a full-time job to no job at all can often be a big adjustment. That’s where semi-retirement, a trend that continues to gain in popularity as more people ease into retirement by gradually cutting back their hours, comes into play.
“Semi-retirement refers specifically to a person’s relationship to paid work. The semi-retirees work for pay only enough hours to meet their monetary needs. After that they spend much of their time in non-paid work like strengthening relationships, pursuing hobbies or performing community service. Semi-retirees arrange their lives so that they can afford the ‘luxury’ of not having to work for pay from sun up to sun,” according to Why Work.
U.S. News & World Report writes that a study completed by HSBC and the Cicero Group found that more than a third of working Americans would like to semi-retire before retiring completely.
Of those who responded to the survey, 19 percent between 55 and 64 said they consider themselves to be semi-retired, while another 32 percent hope to transition into semi-retirement before completely retiring. It’s a trend that is growing among the younger generations, too. In fact, 43 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 41 percent of people between 35 and 44 hope to one day semi-retire. Interestingly enough, workers between 45 and 54 aren’t as inclined to consider semi-retirement, with only 27 percent planning to, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Why are people considering semi-retirement?

Next Avenue says that one of the reasons for an increase in semi-retirement is due to higher unemployment. A report by the University of Michigan found that people between 63 and 67 are especially sensitive to increases in the national unemployment rate. For every 1 percent rise in unemployment, there’s a 1 percent drop in full employment for those between the ages of 55 and 75. For people between 63 and 67, there’s as much as a 2 percent drop in full employment.
However, others opt for semi-retirement because they enjoy working. U.S. News & World Report writes that 41 percent of those who responded to the HSBC and Cicero survey said they continue working simply because they like it. Over half of the respondents (51 percent), said a job offers mental stimulation and a way to stay active. And for some, working has become part of their identity, making it difficult to give up. Gradually reducing your work hours can make a transition easier, the survey found.

What to know

The best time to start thinking about semi-retirement is three to five years before you’re getting ready to retire, Nancy Collamer, author of Second Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, told Fox Business. “This may seem like an overly long timeframe, but the reality is that, the more time you allow, the more flexibility you’ll have to explore, research, test and refine your plan.”
Collamer also warns that it may take time before you start generating income through a new career. The more time you give yourself to save more, the more flexibility you’ll have when you’re ready to transition. And if you consider these options while you’re still employed, there may be employee-sponsored training programs, workshops and conferences you can take advantage of, per Fox Business.
Look for industries where age can play in your favor, such as healthcare or education, Collamer suggests. Keep in mind, she says, that “the main thing is to remember that there are many different types of jobs and businesses where your maturity, contacts, accomplishments and range of experiences will be attractive to a lot of clients.”
Collamer’s best advice? Dream big, but start by acting small. It’s important to create a big picture of what you want your life to look like in and after semi-retirement. After you figure out what you want, take small steps to work toward it, such as taking classes and brainstorming ideas.

Semi-retirement options

Look for sustainable additional income that doesn’t constrain you to a 9 to 5 job, John Meyer, CEO of Arise Virtual Solutions, told Fox Business. “Crowdsourcing can be a great opportunity for baby boomers looking to continue working in the disciplines they’ve worked in for the last several decades (for instance, finance, tech support, sales) but part-time, from home and maintaining work-life balance. These types of opportunities allow baby boomers to be entrepreneurs, solopreneurs or independent contractors,” he said.
Meyer says there are many crowdsourcing initiatives that have a structured virtual network consisting of many opportunities. These jobs allow baby boomers to choose their own hours, projects and work.
Forbes suggests looking closely at the benefits of the job, rather than focusing solely on money. Many part-time opportunities may come with perks that will be even better than a paycheck. The trick is to match job perks to your interests.
If you can find a job with benefits that match your interests, lifestyle and spending habits, you’ll be good to go. For instance, if you want to do more traveling, find a job at a company in the travel industry. If you are hoping to catch more baseball games, get a job at a stadium or with a local team. When you’re interviewing with these companies, make sure you ask about the eligibility requirements for company perks and any limitations there may be for part-timers.
Take a look at this list, per Forbes, to help you find a job with perks you can enjoy during your semi-retirement years.
Employee discounts
Retailers will often offer part-time employee discounts on merchandise, which can range from 10 to 35 percent. You could also be invited to sample sales and clearance events. It doesn’t just apply to retail, though. Appliance outlets, direct sales companies, and restaurants will also typically offer employee discounts.
Free or cheap entertainment and classes
If you’re hoping to attend lectures or frequently go to the movies, consider a job at your local movie theater or museum. You’ll often get to attend gallery openings, lectures and movies at a discount or better yet, for free.
Travel discounts
If you work for an airline, you can expect free flights. Forbes writes that Southwest gives employees, as well as their spouses, dependent children and parents, unlimited free flights as long as there’s room on the plane. Hotels are also a great gig. Many large chains will offer employees room discounts at their locations all around the world, in addition to reduced rates for food and drinks.
Free rent
If you become a property caretaker or work in a national park as a seasonal employee, you may have access to beautiful properties around the globe. Some owners of private homes, resorts and even boats will hire caretakers to watch over the properties when they aren’t there. It typically comes with free lodging in exchange for your caretaking services, and you may get other free benefits, such as meals, a stipend, and access to any amenities that come with the place. If you want to explore the great outdoors, working at a national park is a great option. Jobs can range from interpreters to tour guides to gift shop employees, and you’ll often get housing (cabins, RV parks, or dorms) for free.
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