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Seniors & Self-employment:

4 Benefits of Working Past Retirement  Age

Last week I ended a two-week series on seniors and bankruptcies. First, I shared 6 reasons why someone might not have any other choice. I then shared ideas on ways bankruptcy could be avoided. One idea was to become self- employed, opening your own business.

I understand self- employment is not for every senior.  After all, you spent 40 plus years in the workforce, and now you want to kick back, relax and enjoy the rest of your life. I get it. However, as I pointed out in an earlier article on the reasons for increased bankruptcy among seniors, many older adults simply don’t have enough money to live on. Perhaps, their 401(k) was wiped out by the crash in ‘08 and/or medical expenses have eaten into their savings.

Faced with the rising costs of daily living and healthcare, an hourly job may not make ends meet. A great example of someone who didn’t start their franchise business until after age 65 is Harland D. Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I’m not guaranteeing the same success, but I believe self-employment offers greater opportunity than a job paying an hourly wage. Besides the aspect of greater financial rewards, there are other benefits seniors can expect from self-employment. Today I will be sharing some of those with you.

A Sense of Purpose– I personally believe we all need a motivating factor, a “why”, to keep us going. Judith Graham, a freelance author, summarized in a 2017 article for Kaiser Health News, that seniors with a goal tend to be more positive, physically active and more engaged. She cites that experts encourage seniors to indulge themselves in activities they enjoy or build upon their work skills in new ways. Self-employment does exactly that. Seniors have the opportunity to grow their skills in a number of ways, experiencing more than just financial gain.

Staying Active– Self-employment forces you to constantly be mentally engaged, thinking and planning how to build your business or service. How to market, what connections to make and a multitude of other decisions have to be made. Marissa Salvesen, the Manager for Mission Development for United Methodist Homes (UMH), notes in a 2016 UMH article that physical and mental activity can lessen depression in seniors.

Engaging with Others– Whether on the phone or physically meeting people, the social aspects of work, notes Gabriel Heller Sahlgren, a Ph.D. candidate at the London School of Economics, have a positive effect on older workers both physically and mentally.

Your Own Pace/Schedule– A nice benefit of self-employment is not being tied to someone else’s schedule. As a retiree, you can work as much or little as you want. It’s driven only by your own needs and whims.

These are just a few of the benefits seniors and others can experience through self-employment. There are other positive benefits, but I’ve shared a few of the more obvious, even if they overlap.  Equally apparent is the fact that seniors do not have to be self-employed to experience any one of the above. Entering the workforce as your own boss is a personal decision based solely on the factors of need and desire. Next week I will be sharing some businesses seniors can start. I hope you’ll join me.