In 2004, after winning 74 consecutive “Jeopardy” games and setting multiple game-show records, the great Ken Jennings had finally met his match.
The final Jeopardy clue that tripped him up was this: “Most of this firm’s seasonal white-collar employees only work four months a year.”
Jennings guessed FedEx; the correct answer was H&R Block.
I remember this because, during college, I was one of those 70,000 seasonal employees, and it was a fantastic part-time job.
After taking a three-month tax class, passing a final exam and interview, I was hired to do basic tax returns.
I took these classes in a college town and was surrounded by college students. I assumed this job would be populated by other college kids getting through school just like me.
I was wrong.
On my first day, I noticed a lot of gray hair. I was the only tax preparer under 30, and many were older than 60. One was older than 70.
I assumed my elderly co-workers had made poor financial decisions, which compelled them to work deep into their golden years.
As I got to know my co-workers better, I learned many of them had retired from bigger and better jobs. This seasonal tax job was just a way to stay active and earn a little retirement fun money.
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I never gave this much thought until I launched a career in financial planning and learned how valuable a good retirement job can be.
Retirees who have a gateway job usually have more success in retirement. Not only do they have extra spending money, but the structure the job provides enables them to be more productive and healthy.
Many people think of Walmart greeters when they imagine retirement jobs. There is nothing wrong with being a greeter, but there is so much more.
There are many opportunities to get paid for driving. Uber & Lyft, among other ride services, allow you to earn money being a part-time taxi driver. One of the best aspects of these driving jobs is they allow so much control of your schedule.
Not all driving requires transporting people. There are also courier and errand services.
Other service-oriented jobs include pet and house sitting. The rise of online vacation rental services has also opened up a lot of home maintenance and housekeeping services.
The option retirees use most is to keep their pre-retirement job, but do it less and on their terms.
Teachers teach part-time or substitute, professionals consult, and hobbyists sell their work. Just about every sector of our economy offers some sort of part-time option.
Don’t be limited by the few examples provided in this column. Look for something you would find fulfilling or that would enable a higher quality of life.
Too many people work their entire careers at a job they hate or don’t find fulfilling.
The best thing about a retirement job is that you have the luxury to do something you love. Don’t settle.