For many Baby Boomers entering traditional retirement age, delaying that retirement has increasingly become widespread practice. For the fortunate, sustained vitality due to better health care and medicine has allowed them to continue the work they enjoy past the traditional benchmark of age 62. But for many others, the extra working years are the result of necessity rather than desire.
The Great Recession is a major reason for delayed retirement. While the markets have substantially recovered, many boomers saw their savings severely diminished or even eliminated by the economic downturn. Those who cashed out funds to tide them through the recession now find themselves without the means to invest and benefit from a healthy market. Worse still, for those over the age of 50 who found themselves out of work, finding a new job proved substantially more difficult, and remains so to this day.
About 40% of Baby Boomers still in the workforce plan to delay retirement until after the age of 69. But faced with competition from a rising millennial workforce and widespread accounts of ageism, those plans for a few more earning years to pad retirement funds may ultimately fail to pan out. In fact, MetLife’s comprehensive 2013 report indicated that more than half the oldest Boomers surveyed at the time of the report were already retired, five years earlier than planned.
With 45% of US working households reported with no retirement savings at all, it is now crucial for Boomers to find alternate ways to pad their income. For those having trouble retaining or finding a place in the traditional workforce, or for those simply desiring to start a new venture in their retirement years, there are alternate solutions that can provide relief. One of the easiest and most effective trends that they can cash in on is the gig economy.
Many such platforms exist, from the ever popular Uber to delivery services like DoorDash and PostMates all staffed with independent contractors working largely on their own schedule. The caveat here is that these positions of course require a valid driver’s license and a vehicle. However, new gig economy platforms are also emerging that essentially allow users to share any areas of knowledge they possess, at a rate they choose, with minimal investments to start out. Essentially, these platforms would allow boomers and other older workers so set up their own business, in their own home, sharing what they already know.
These knowledge sharing platforms like Konversai typically only require a computer with a webcam, and a sufficient internet connection. For the most part, any type of knowledge can be shared and monetized, from cooking lessons to language lessons, even mentorship, career and industry advice. For workers with ample years of experience under their belt, they’ll find a ready audience all over the world willing to pay for one on one interaction with a patient and knowledgeable instructor. The best part of Konversai and similar platforms is that setup and payment systems are generally integrated within the platform itself, offering a no-hassle way to essentially start your own business.
This is especially great for older workers who may need more flexible hours, according to Konversai founder and CEO Sushma Sharma. “Whether due to health or mobility issues or their responsibilities of caring for other aging relatives, the Internet is the great equalizer. It also serves as a great way to increase social interactions for older workers who both want to earn a little extra cash while also wanting to pursue newer, more engaging avenues of work. Best of all, with practice, these knowledge sharing platforms within the gig economy can actually offer a relatively predictable and stable form of income.”
Whether for financial reasons, or simply because they are bored with their retirement and want to rejoin the workforce, the retirement age for Americans is surely on the rise. With so many workers planning to work 5-10 years over the prescribed retirement age, it is important for Baby Boomers to look at all the new employment solutions that our rapidly changing technological age has to offer. Whatever their monetary or personal goals, knowledge sharing platforms within the gig economy offer an easy way to remain or re-enter the workforce. For older workers, the flexibility of hours coupled with the ability to work out of their home can prove an invaluable benefit.
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