By Beverly Sandlin
If it is a natural disaster or a catastrophic fire that burned your home, you know that you are just getting by for a week or a year. It has an end. And even with personal shift situations like job loss, divorce, etc. this too will pass. Major health issues and retirement will not pass and you must adjust to your new reality. So, let’s take job loss as we’ve all been through that situation at one time or another, and it can go from bad to catastrophic very quickly.
Attitude – You will find another job and this is a temporary cut back situation. Make the best of it and use this time to re-evaluate your skills, aptitudes and desires. Live in FAITH not FEAR – Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you and the power to carry that out. Now it is time for you to be good to yourself and your family and friends. And let everyone know you are actively seeking employment in an upbeat way. Doom, gloom and fear will actually keep you from getting a job offer. Spend at least three hours a day, every day, looking for work, preferably before you ever lose your job.
Education – Perhaps it is going back to school, but for most older folks that is not a viable option if we are thinking about 2-4 years of schooling, debt, and only working in that field less than 10 years before retirement. However there are a number of short schooling options, often as little as 9 weeks, that could set you on a new career path. Examples would include nurses’ aid training and home health care, or even a tax course for seasonal work. These are also wonderful options for additional income after retirement.
Volunteer Opportunities – Yes, you can volunteer in hope of getting a job, but there are money making opportunities out there that are classed as volunteer activities and will not be reflected as income. Around here we have a state agency that reimburses people to drive other people to doctor’s appointments. It reimburses anywhere from 55 cents a mile to a dollar a mile. I know one gentleman who makes almost $1,500 a month doing this and he expenses the mileage on his car, car repair bills, etc. for this volunteer work. And we have people who slap a $15 magnetic sign on their car and charge $1 a mile to haul the Amish and others around. And I think Meals on Wheels reimburses mileage for delivery.
Working Off the Books – For cash you can clean houses, mow lawns, shovel sidewalks and roofs, plant flowers and do handyman jobs. You can babysit neighbors’ children and even your own grand kids. Or going to other parent’s homes as an on-call or regular nanny? You can make salable crafts or sell at the local farmers’ market your extra produce. Do you have a sumptuous pie or lasagna recipe? People pay for food they don’t have to make or delivered food. What about a skill? Do you can or landscape or paint portraits? Consider teaching a class and charging fees to share your knowledge. Relief milking is a popular side job in farm country as is cleaning out fence rows, taking down and putting up fences, and driving tractors during spring planting and fall harvest. What are the needs in your community and remember that if you are working for cash you can work for half the money you would if you have to report it. Just beware of the dreaded 1099 form where someone is keeping track of the cash they are paying you and using it as a deduction.
Self-Employment – Besides looking for work, this may be just the time to start thinking about creating yourself a job. After 50 it becomes harder to get a decent job with benefits. Yes, there are various programs out there to help, but employers often misuse them and you are out of a job in six months after you were hired. What skills do you have? If you are good with computers, you can actually set yourself up a little business fixing other peoples’ computers from your home or remotely. Do you know how to program those darn smart TVs? That is a skill that people will pay for – I would if I could find someone! What about in-home pet boarding? Or contact your local vet and offer convalescent care for pets that don’t need vet care anymore, but do need all day watchfulness. Or how about shopping? If you go to the grocery store once or twice a month you could take someone elses list, add 20% or 30% and do their shopping for them. All you need are some business cards that you can print off your computer or purchase inexpensively, under $20, from Vista Print. Perhaps you do J&J Enterprises and just list a whole bunch of stuff you are willing to and capable of doing,and start networking with anyone and everyone! Church, friends, give the convenient store clerk a card, and the person who is checking you out at the grocery store – word will get around.
AmeriCorps & the Peace Corps – These may well be viable options for you if you have the health and ability to travel. And with AmeriCorps, you may not even have to travel. There are opportunities from working on a communal farm with people who are disabled, for any number of reasons, to reading to children in your local school, and there is even a FEMA division of AmeriCorps helping with national disasters. These programs are becoming increasingly popular with seniors as they provide a stipend to live on, travel opportunities, and a way that you can put all of that life experience to use. Just another option to check out.
Grants – Whether you are between jobs, disabled or retired there are potential grants out there for a wealth of programs. You may be able to write yourself a grant in conjunction with a non-profit for a job that you would love to work for! My job for 5 years as a Sustainable Farmers coordinator was grant funded. Write the grant to get and maintain your job. Right now I am writing a grant to fund an art project I would like to try my hand it. Will I get it? I don’t know but I have the time to write it and have lost nothing if I don’t get it and can always reapply the next round.
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