Route 66: Post-re­tire­ment plans should start be­fore you re­tire

Los Angeles Times - - MARKETPLACE - — Marco Buscaglia, Tribune Con­tent Agency

Ca­reer con­sul­tant Thomas Her­bert says there’s a new breed of re­tirees who are look­ing to do what they love once their cur­rent ca­reer ends, and wouldn’t mind mak­ing a lit­tle money while do­ing it.

J ohn O’Brien says he doesn’t in­tend to stop work­ing af­ter he re­tires next year as an elec­tri­cian. “I’m sure I’ll do some side jobs and help out on projects when I can. I just don’t see my­self sit­ting at home,” says the 64-year-old res­i­dent of Chicago’s Portage Park neigh­bor­hood.

But the elec­tri­cal work won’t be the fo­cus of O’Brien’s life af­ter he re­tires. “Oh, no,” he says. “My wife wants to travel, I’ve got grand­chil­dren to play with and I want to work on my golf game.” And? “Well, I re­ally like to sing.” Re­cently, O’Brien sang for his mom dur­ing her 85th birth­day party. Be­fore he knew it, he was signed up to play three more par­ties. “Peo­ple wanted to pay me,’ he says. “I mean, money. Real money. It was only a hun­dred bucks or so, but I’m get­ting paid to sing. Imag­ine that?”

Ac­tu­ally, O’Brien’s wife imag­ined it a few years back. “She was al­ways telling me there were enough old Ir­ish peo­ple in Chicago who’d pay to hear me sing some of the old songs,” he says. “So why not? I fig­ure I can sing on a week­end here and there when I re­tire, make a few bucks, stay out of some trou­ble. Sounds like a good idea.”

O’Brien’s not the only one who’ll look to de­velop a pas­sion into some profit once the So­cial Se­cu­rity kicks in. Ca­reer con­sul­tant Thomas Her­bert says there’s a new breed of re­tirees who are look­ing to do what they love once their cur­rent ca­reer ends, and wouldn’t mind mak­ing a lit­tle money while do­ing it. “There are so many peo­ple who’ve been telling their kids to do what they love and they don’t do it them­selves,” Her­bert says. “Then they re­tire, have some free time on their hands and re­al­ize ‘hey, I can do this.’”

Her­bert points to var­i­ous in­ter­ests that can be prof­itable, post-re­tire­ment, nam­ing wood­work­ing, writ­ing, cook­ing, babysit­ting, dog-walk­ing, home re­pair and more. “I know a guy who loves de­tail­ing cars,” Her­bert says. “He uses his garage, charges $75 to $150 and gets in ev­ery nook and cranny. He makes those cars look bet­ter than new.”

But cap­i­tal­iz­ing on an in­ter­est won’t hap­pen overnight. If you’re near­ing re­tire­ment, you should think about a few ways to pre­pare your­self for your life ahead. Her­bert of­fers five sug­ges­tions:

1. Do what you love:

Find some­thing that you en­joy do­ing and start build­ing your skills in that area. For ex­am­ple, if you want to be a travel writer, start writ­ing about trav­el­ing, “I know peo­ple who’ve rein­vented them­selves in a va­ri­ety of ways,” he says. “We have friends who’ve al­ways en­joyed cook­ing so when they re­tired, they cre­ated a small cater­ing busi­ness. We have friends who en­joy tak­ing pho­tos so when they re­tired they be­gan a por­trait busi­ness.”

2. Brush up on your busi­ness acu­men:

If you don’t know any­thing about run­ning a busi­ness, take a few sem­i­nars, read a few books and talk to a few peo­ple. “It’s prac­ti­cally im­pos­si­ble to hit the ground run­ning when you’re start­ing a new en­deavor,” Her­bert says. “You’ll need to learn things about taxes, about mar­ket­ing, that you might not al­ready know.”

3. Spread the word:

It’s a lot eas­ier to tran­si­tion to a post-re­tire­ment ca­reer if peo­ple know that you’re al­ready good at what you plan on do­ing. Ref­er­enc­ing his pre­vi­ous ex­am­ples, Her­bert men­tions that peo­ple who en­joy cook­ing should not only take pho­tos of the meals they’ve cre­ated and share them on­line, they should also host din­ner par­ties for their cir­cle of rel­a­tives and friends to make them aware of their culi­nary tal­ents.

4. Pick a place:

One of the key el­e­ments of your re­tire­ment is where you’ll live. While you can cer­tainly make a choice based on state in­come taxes and qual­ity of ser­vices, it’s also im­por­tant to live in an area with res­i­dents that will ap­pre­ci­ate your postre­tire­ment ser­vices. Al­though there are some jobs that will al­low you to work re­motely with clients, there are oth­ers, like the afore­men­tioned cook­ing and pho­tog­ra­phy, that will re­quire you to be in close prox­im­ity to your cus­tomers.

5. Tech up:

If you’re not run­ning a tech-aware busi­ness, you may be los­ing clients. “I know a woman who makes beau­ti­ful quilts and sells them at art shows, fairs, out­door events, things like that,” Her­bert says. “She built a small web­site to show off what she does and now takes in or­ders from around the coun­try. She’s tak­ing or­ders on­line, chat­ting with cus­tomers — it’s opened up a whole new world.”

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