MONEY Longevity

The New Rules for Making Your Money Last in Retirement

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Murat Giray/Getty Images

In today's longevity economy, retirement as we know it is disappearing. Here's what to do now.

Are you ready to live to age 95—or beyond?

It’s a real possibility. For an upper-middle-class couple age 65 today, there’s a 43% chance that one or both will reach at least age 95, according to the latest data from the Society of Actuaries.

Living longer is a good thing, of course. But there’s a downside—increasing longevity may mean the end of retirement as we know it.

Problem is, a long lifetime in retirement is a huge financial challenge. As Laura Carstensen, head of Stanford Center on Longevity, said in a recent presentation, “Most people can’t save enough in 40 years of working to support themselves for 30 or more years of not working. Nor can society provide enough in terms of pensions to support nonworking people that long.” Instead, Carstensen argues, we need to move toward a longer, more flexible working life.

Carstensen is hardly alone here. Alicia Munnell, head of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College and a co-author of “Falling Short: The Coming Retirement Crisis and What to Do About It”, has long warned about the nation’s lack of retirement preparedness. Following the Great Recession, Munnell has pounded away at the reality that continuing to work is the only feasible strategy for many people if they wish to have any hope of affording even modestly comfortable retirements.

For many retiring Baby Boomers, the notion of working longer has appeal—not only for the additional income but as a way of staying involved and giving back. That’s what spurred Marc Freedman, founder of Encore.org, to encourage older workers to use their skills for social purpose. Chris Farrell, a Money contributor, captures this movement in his recent book, “Unretirement: How Baby Boomers are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and the Good Life.”

Still, to afford a longer life, Americans will have to rethink their savings and withdrawal methods too. Right now, most retirement calculators default to no more than a 30-year time horizon. What if you want to keep your retirement income going past age 95? Fidelity’s planners suggest three alternatives that can help:

*Stay on the job longer. Say you are a 65-year old woman who earned $100,000 a year, and you have a $1 million portfolio. You’ll also receive a $30,000 Social Security benefit ($2,500 a month) and you plan to withdraw an initial $50,000 a year from your portfolio. All told, you’ll have $80,000, or 80% of your pre-retirement income. If inflation averages 2%, and the portfolio grows by 4%, your savings will likely last for 25 years, or until age 90. After that, odds are the money will run out.

But if you instead work four more years, until age 69, and keep saving 15% of your income, your portfolio will grow to $1,240,000. That would be enough to provide income for eight more years—until age 98.

*Postpone Social Security. Another move is to work two more years and defer claiming Social Security till age 67, which means your monthly benefit will rise from $2,500 to $2,850. That would replace 35% of her income, instead of 30%, and her portfolio would need replace just 45% of your pre-retirement earnings vs 50%. By age 67, your portfolio will total $1,110,000, which will deliver retirement income till age 98.

*Consider an annuity. You could purchase an immediate annuity, which would give you a lifetime stream of income. The trade-off, of course, is that your money is locked up and payments will cease when you die (unless you add a joint-and-survivor option, which would reduce your payout). Many advisers suggest using only a portion of your portfolio to buy an annuity—you might aim to cover your essential expenses with a guaranteed income stream, which would include Social Security.

A 65-year-old woman who invested $200,000 in an immediate annuity with a 2% annual inflation adjustment would receive guaranteed monthly payments of about $870 a month, or $10,440 a year, according to Income Solutions. Added to Social Security, this income would replace roughly 40% of a $100,000 salary, which will allow the rest of the portfolio to keep growing longer.

But make no mistake. This is a big decision, and many investment experts oppose locking up money in an annuity, given today’s low interest rates. But longevity investing raises the appeal of guaranteed streams of income, and annuity payouts will become more attractive if and when interest rates slowly rise toward historical norms.

Philip Moeller is an expert on retirement, aging, and health. He is the co-author of “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security,” and a research fellow at the Center for Aging & Work at Boston College. Reach him at moeller.philip@gmail.com or @PhilMoeller on Twitter.

Read next: The Suddenly Hot Job Market for Workers Over 50

MONEY Careers

The Suddenly Hot Job Market for Workers Over 50

Barclay's bank
Dominic Lipinski—PA Wire/Press Association Images

More companies are recognizing the value of mature workers—and they're starting to hire them.

Things are finally looking up for older workers.

The latest data show the unemployment rate for those over age 55 stands at just 4.1%, compared with 5.7% for the total population and a steep 18.8% for teens. The ranks of the long-term unemployed, which ballooned during the recession as mature workers lost their jobs, are coming down. Age-discrimination charges have fallen for six consecutive years. And now, as the job market lurches back to life, more companies are wooing the silver set with formal retraining programs.

This is not to say that older workers have it easy. Overall, the long-term unemployment rate remains stubbornly high—31.5%. And even though age-discrimination charges have declined they remain at peak pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, critics note that some corporate re-entry programs are not a great deal, paying little or no salary and distracting workers from seeking full-time gainful employment.

Still, the big picture is one of improving opportunity for workers past age 50. That’s welcome news for many reasons, not least is that those who lose their job past age 58 are at greater health risk and, on average, lose three years of life expectancy. Meanwhile, older workers are a bigger piece of the labor force. Two decades ago, less than a third of people age 55 and over were employed or looking for work. Today, the share is 40%, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

AARP and others have long argued that older workers are reliable, flexible, experienced and possess valuable institutional knowledge. Increasingly, employers seem to want these traits.

This spring, the global bank Barclays will expand its apprenticeship program and begin looking at candidates past age 50. The bank will consider mature workers from unrelated fields, saying the only experience they need is practical experience. The bank says this is no PR stunt; it values older workers who have life experience and can better relate to customers seeking a mortgage or auto loan. With training, the bank believes they would make good, full-time, fairly compensated loan officers.

Already, Barclays has a team of tech-savvy older workers in place to help mature customers with online banking. The new apprenticeship program builds on this effort to capitalize on the life skills of experienced employees.

Others have tiptoed into this space. Goldman Sachs started a “returnship” in the throes of the recession. But the program is only a 10-week retraining exercise, with competitive pay, and highly selective. About 2% of applicants get accepted. It is not designed as a gateway to full-time employment at Goldman, though some older interns end up with job offers at the bank.

The nonprofit Encore.org offers mature workers a one-year fellowship, typically in a professional capacity at another nonprofit, to help mature workers re-enter the job market. Again, this is a temporary arrangement and pays just $25,000.

But a growing number of organizations—the National Institutes of Health, Stanley Consultants, and Michelin North America, among many others—embrace a seasoned workforce and have programs designed to attract and keep workers past 50. Companies with internship programs for older workers include PwC, Regeneron, Harvard Business School, MetLife and McKinsey. Find a longer list at irelaunch.com. And get back in the game.

Read next: These Workers Landed Cool and Unusual Retirement Jobs—Here’s How

MONEY Second Career

These Workers Landed Cool and Unusual Retirement Jobs—Here’s How

senior fixing tractor
Zuma Press—Alamy

If you're willing to think outside the box, you'll find fun jobs that provide income and adventure.

Retirement surveys say that many people plan to work part-time in retirement—for the income, the enjoyment or both. But an Unretirement job doesn’t mean you have to be a Walmart greeter (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Instead, think out of the box and create, or find, a part-time position that’s fun, too.

Tinkering in Unretirement

Don Carlson, a former engineer in Columbia, S.C. who spent over three decades in the auto industry, loves working with machine tools, making and repairing things. So when he retired from Ford, Carlson launched a part-time business restoring old tractors. He’s since evolved it into fixing things mostly for fun—recently, he breathed life into an old manual sewing machine. “Most of what I do is for friends now,” says Carlson. “I get energy doing it.”

Tractor restoration is in line with lots of other unusual jobs I’ve learned that people are embracing in their Unretirement. People like Peter Millon, 69, who lives in Park City, Utah and waxes and repairs skis for racers part-time. Or John Kerr, 76; his encore career is a Yellowstone Park ranger.

Retired, But Not Retired

On a public radio broadcast I was on, a Wyoming, Minn. caller named Rick said that after he retired from being a school counselor and decided he wasn’t ready “for the rocking chair,” he picked up a job as a driver. He loves it, especially the flexibility. “I am retired, but I’m not retired,” he said.

How’s this for an Unretirement job pitch? “If you consider yourself ‘Older & Bolder,’ you are retired or planning on retiring, and are looking for a seasonal or temporary job in a great place, the following employers are interested in you. Keep in mind, each has varied accommodations; some have RV spaces, some offer private rooms, and others have rentals nearby. Are you ready for your encore career?” It’s from the website Coolworks.com.

Part-Time Work at a National Park

Cool Works posts mostly seasonal jobs, typically paying minimum wage or slightly higher. They can be enticing for people who’d love to spend time in a national park or another exotic locale, though. When I checked out Cool Works’ job postings on February 25, the openings included: line cooks, night auditors and gift store manager in the Grand Teton National Park; multiple seasonal management opportunities in Mount Rainer and tutoring kids with the Carson and Barnes Circus.

“You can do all kinds of things,” says Kari Quaas, human resources and recruiting specialist at Cool Works.

Reading through the postings reminded me of an interview I did a few years ago with Frank and Sandie, then empty nesters in their 50s. They forged a new life for themselves, living three months of the year alongside Grand Lake in the Colorado mountains (an RV parking space and utilities were free in exchange for campsite maintenance work) and another three with the RV Care-A-Vanners on the road, building Habitat for Humanity homes. The rest of the time they lived and worked in Arizona, Frank at a pharmacy and Sandie as a craft store cashier.

Out-of-the-box Unretirement jobs like theirs can often be nomadic, short-term gigs with beautiful surroundings and so-so pay. Participants often draw on some kind of a pension or have dramatically downsized their possessions and material wants (or, more realistically, have combined savings with frugality). The lure is the adventure and the income helps make the job practical.

Caretaking For Someone’s Home

Home-caretaking is another possibility for those intrigued by the vagabond life. Caretakers, sometimes called housesitters, mostly look after residences and other properties of wealthy homeowners usually while they’re away. Other opportunities open up when a relative dies, leaving a home to someone living far away and the beneficiary needs someone to temporarily watch over the property.

Free board is always part of the caretaking deal, but there’s generally only compensation if you’re watching a well-off owner’s place, says Gary Dunn, publisher of the Caretaker Gazette. He adds that owners tend to prefer older caretakers and many favor former members of the military, police officers and firefighters.

Jobs for Retired Brains

For some other out-of-the-box ideas, I checked in with Art Koff, 79, founder of the website Retired Brains, which focuses on work. Koff mentioned a number of unusual possibilities, such as traveling-assistance companion, shuttle driver for car dealers and golf cart management.

Koff’s own story is a great example of picking up fascinating work after a first career. He spent 40 years in the high-pressure ad business and retired in his late 60s. “I wondered, ‘What to do?’ says Koff. “I couldn’t imagine not having something to do.” So he started Retired Brains. “I am working 50 hours a week, but I really enjoy what I’m doing every day,” he says. “It’s a quasi-public service business. It pays for itself, but I’m not in it for the money.”

Mention the catchphrase “working longer” to many boomers and the immediate image that comes to mind is spending more years stuck in a cubicle or working at a big-box retailer. But the Unretirement narrative shows that more and more retirees are shucking the big box for something out-of-the-box.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of the forthcoming Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. Send your queries to him at cfarrell@mpr.org. His twitter address is @cfarrellecon.

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MONEY Second Career

Is the Boomer Entrepreneur Boom Fading?

Boomers are aging out of the "entrepreneurship sweet spot." But their impact on the industry will stay strong.

Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy and the boom in boomer startups has been a major pumping force. But the State of Entrepreneurship 2015 report released today by the Kauffman Foundation, which specializes in studying and promoting entrepreneurship, suggests that the boomer binge just may be winding down.

Or maybe not.

Reasons for Concern

More broadly, the Kauffman report finds that the state of entrepreneurship in America (and prospects for its future) represent a case of on the one hand and on the other hand and cites “reasons for concern.”

On the one hand, notes Kauffman, entrepreneurship is thriving by some measures.

Digital entrepreneurs are feverishly creating new products and services, from social media to the shared economy. The media celebrates their achievements and investors eagerly snap up their initial public offerings. Venture capitalists and angel investors are flush with money, trolling for the next big thing; the report notes that CB Insights counted 588 companies in its Tech IPO Pipeline for this year.

On the other hand, the longer-term trend is disheartening, a tale of declining dynamism. New business creation hit a recent high in 2006, yet by 2012 the numbers were still running 27% below the previous peak. Business survival rates for new firms have been declining since the 1990s. So have the job-generating figures at new establishments.

Cloudy Magic 8 Ball

And Kauffman’s Magic 8 Ball for boomer entrepreneurship looks cloudy.

On the plus side: Its researchers say boomers have been, and will continue to be, an entrepreneurial generation. As they work longer and live longer, boomers will be entrepreneurs for longer periods. And boomer founders will be the ones to capitalize on the challenges and opportunities of their own aging generation. Said the report: “…we can expect the boomers to continue to be an important economic force for many years” and “boost American entrepreneurship.”

On the minus side, Kauffman says: Since boomers — now age 51 to 69 — have aged out of the sweet spot for entrepreneurship (around 40), they won’t start as many new companies as in recent years and the companies they start will have less economic impact. (See the chart below showing the recent decline of entrepreneurial activity for Americans age 55 to 64.) “Common sense indicates that an older population won’t start new companies at a very fast pace,” the report noted.

In addition, Kauffman said, many boomers can’t afford to start new companies, because they were hit hard by the Great Recession, and businesses started by older entrepreneurs have lower levels of employment and lower rates of employment growth.

Mixed Signals for Millennials

Kauffman also scrutinized the entrepreneurial outlook for millennials, who came of age as the IT revolution flourished, and similarly came away with a mixture of optimism and pessimism.

Since millennials (in their 20s and 30s) came of age as the IT revolution flourished, they’re well positioned to turn new technologies into entrepreneurial ventures, Kauffman said. They’re also well-educated, which equates to the creation of stronger businesses, and are on the cusp of mass entry into the peak age bracket for entrepreneurship — in fact, they’ll be the largest cohort at those ages in American history.

The report noted: “It does not seem outlandish — keeping in mind that demography is not deterministic — to expect that a giant group of people in this age group will help revitalize rates of entrepreneurship.”

But, Kauffman said, millennials are saddled with student loan debt and were also hard hit by the recession, so many can’t afford to be entrepreneurs. “There is growing worry over how entrepreneurial the Millennial generation will be,” the Kauffman report said.

Why I’m Bullish About Boomer Entrepreneurs

Personally, I’m bullish about boomer entrepreneurs, particularly in their Unretirement (the topic and title of my new book) and am making that case at a Washington, D.C. event today that Kauffman is holding to release its report. I’m also bullish about entrepreneurship in America overall.

The way I see things, as I’ll be saying:

The generation that has made a bigger mark on American history than any other will continue to do so even as they age. Boomers are reimagining the last third of life and many boomers will have the ability and the desire to continue working during the traditional retirement years. A series of broad, mutually reinforcing changes in the U.S. economy and society are turning an aging population into more of an economic asset than before. Boomers are well educated and healthier than previous generations. An information-and-services dominated economy is easing the transition to longer work lives. Toiling away on a computer in a medical clinic in the 2000s is far less demanding than working the assembly line in the 1950s.

The household economics of Unretirement are compelling. Earning even a slim part-time income allows older workers to keep saving or to push off the day they have to tap into their retirement savings. For some boomers, their encore job may be full-time, but for the majority their next act is likely to embrace the flexibility that comes from part-time jobs, contract work and temp employment. Thanks to aging boomers, the U.S. will also enjoy a striking resurgence in entrepreneurship, not in spite of an aging population but because of older boomers. They’re realizing that Unretirement offers a new opportunity to start a business, especially since age discrimination is much less of a factor.

Why I’m Optimistic About Entrepreneurship Overall

And here are two more reasons I’m optimistic about prospects for entrepreneurship in America in general.

First, Millennials have made a huge long-term investment — measured in college tuition, fees and loans — in their human capital. Those student loans will pay off with time and my guess is that a surprising number of Millennials will join the ranks of entrepreneurs, perhaps going into business with their boomer parents.

Second, immigration. America’s high-tech economy has prospered largely thanks to highly educated foreigners. A quarter of our engineering and tech firms started between 1995 and 2005 had at least one founder who was foreign-born, according to scholars Vivek Wadhwa, Annalee Saxenian, Ben Rissing, and Gary Gereffi. In Silicon Valley, the percentage of immigrant founded startups reached 52% of total new companies over the same time period.

It isn’t just highly educated foreigners who are entrepreneurs, either. Immigrants have created businessesfrom the corner grocer to the local builder that create jobs and revitalize neighborhoods throughout the country. The record waves of immigration over the past quarter century, and immigration in the future, is a key factor that should nourish entrepreneurship.

One Suggestion That Could Help

The Kauffman Foundation is asking researchers and others to explore the issues its report raised and offer recommendations. I have one: Create a universal, portable retirement plan program for all workers.

Only 42% of private sector workers age 25 to 64 have any pension coverage in their current job. The result is that more than one-third of households end up with no coverage during their working years, while others moving in and out of coverage accumulate small 401(k) balances. Retirement savings provides an additional financial cushion for those experimenting during their Unretirement years. Broadening coverage could be a huge boost for them and for American entrepreneurship.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of the forthcoming Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He writes about Unretirement twice a month, focusing on the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income. Tell him about your experiences so he can address your questions in future columns. Send your queries to him at cfarrell@mpr.org. His twitter address is @cfarrellecon.

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Why You’ll Be Able to Work Longer Than You Think

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Klaus Tiedg/Getty Images/Blend Images

Innovations in technology, medicine and workplace design will allow more boomers to work well into retirement.

As I go around the country talking to people about my book Unretirement and its thesis (that today, retirement often includes part-time work, often with a purpose), I frequently hear people say: “I don’t think I’ll be able to work in retirement.”

They’d like to stay employed, they say, but that’s an unrealistic expectation considering the accumulated ravages of time and increased infirmities. I think that, in many cases, they’re being pessimistic.

Medical advancements (including ones we’ve yet to see) and workplace-design innovations at growing numbers of employers are making it easier to work into your 60s and 70s, albeit not for everyone.

Boomers Coping With Maladies at Work

Now, I’m no Pollyanna about aging. To be sure, getting up from my office chair is a slow maneuver these days, typically accompanied by a groan or two (maybe three). My knees were never good, but it takes longer for them to recover after a business flight. And I realize that plenty of leading-edge boomers are coping with some combination of maladies on the job—fading eyesight and hearing, maybe a limp, a bad back, arthritic hands.

That said, the assumption of widespread work-denying disability is greatly exaggerated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76% of people 65 and over rated their health as good, very good, or excellent. What’s more, the disability rate for people 65 and over dropped from 35% in 1992 to 29% in 2009, notes Steven Wallace, professor at the UCLA School for Public Health.

At the workplace, smart design, technological advances and organizational accommodation have done quite a bit to address physical issues faced by older workers.

Reconfiguring the Office Computer

John Smith, 55, appreciates how technology has helped him stay employed. Born with cerebral palsy, Smith works part-time evaluating websites and education programs for the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, whose mission is bringing people with all kinds of disabilities into the community.

Smith worked there full-time before his life-changing accident a decade ago, when he fell and badly injured his spinal cord; he’s now confined to a wheelchair. His employer lets him use a trackball rather than a mouse to navigate his computer and the computer has software features built into Microsoft Windows that take into account his difficulties with the keyboard. Smith’s power wheelchair lets him raise his seat to be almost on eye-level when speaking to someone standing up.

“I have no doubt that technology is going to keep getting better and will allow me to increase my productivity for many years to come,” says Smith.

“One of the last bastions of widespread discrimination is the belief that to be disabled means being unable to work,” says Marca Bristo, 62, President and Chief Executive Officer of Access Living, a Chicago-based nonprofit that provides housing, in-home assistance, advocacy and other services for the disabled. In 1977, she broke her neck diving into Lake Michigan and became paralyzed from the chest down. “Most people can work, even those with severe disabilities,” she says.

Case in point: Kate Williams, 72, program manager for employment immersion at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco. Though blind due to a rare degenerative disorder, Williams trains and mentors people for jobs in finance, industry, government, nonprofits and other sectors of the economy. Adaptive technologies like Braille-enabled computers and voice recognition software (think Siri) help Willliams’ clients in many tasks.

“I think there is a job for everyone,” she says. “You just have to go after it.” Williams was awarded a 2014 Purpose Prize by the social venture Encore.org.

Hip Surgeries and Driverless Cars

The march of technology is making the formerly impossible now possible for many older workers. Advances in hip and knee replacement surgery already let them remain productive and active. (The idea for this column came from walking through the skyway with a colleague who casually mentioned that he had both his hips replaced. I never knew.)

David Lindeman, Director of the Center for Technology and Aging at the University of California, Berkeley, believes the coming-soon driverless car will have a dramatic impact on how people think about disabilities and prospects for employment. “For everyone with mobility limitations it will be a game changer,” he says.

Unretirement skeptics shouldn’t underestimate the power of good design—specifically “universal design”—for stretching out work lives, too. The universal design movement takes into account aging in the office with specially-created, utilitarian and aesthetically pleasing door handles, lighting and work surface heights.

The approach is an integral part of the corporate campus of office design and furniture maker Herman Miller in Zeeland, Mich. There, the doors have levers rather than knobs, because levers are are easier on aging hands. Desk drawers have easy-grip pulls.

Here’s the thing: Smart ergonomics isn’t just useful for older or disabled workers. “Whether it is chronic aging or acute injury, whatever we do to accommodate those particular situations, they’re going to be useful for everyone,” says Gretchen Gscheidle, director of insight and exploration at Herman Miller.

Will Employers Meet the Challenge?

Of course, technology and smart design only succeed at extending work lives if organizations embrace them. Companies like Walgreen, AMC and Hershey stand out for their concerted efforts to recruit workers with disabilities.

One question other employers need to answer: Will they hire and hang onto employees like Smith, Williams and Bristo?

Bristo sometimes gets frustrated at the slow pace of change. Her husband reminds her during those moments: “Just wait until the baby boomers get older.” That’s when change will speed up, he tells her, as employers realize they need the skill and experience of their older workers.

Yes, some older workers deal with more disabilities than others. That doesn’t mean they should be excluded from Unretirement—far from it.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of the new book Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He writes twice a month about the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications of Unretirement, and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income. Send your queries to him at cfarrell@mpr.org or @cfarrellecon on Twitter.

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How I Went Broke Trying to Teach Yoga

Yoga class
Andrea Wyner—Getty Images

One woman's search for inner peace put a major strain on her finances.

I came to yoga, like most people, because I hated my job and going to yoga class was easier than finding another career. I was a well-paid corporate lawyer and, as I watched the gentle office dust drift through the filtered New York City sunlight, I dreamed of being anywhere else.

At first, it started with one or two classes a week, but soon, like an addict, I was there as often as I could skip out of work early. The yoga teacher was an escapee from the world of public relations. She had luscious dark, wavy hair, milky skin and sturdy thighs. At the end of every class, she turned off the lights, and we students lay there in the dark underneath musty, scratchy blankets.

“You deserve good things!” she intoned in a throaty voice.

I wept silently. I desperately wanted to deserve good things.

Over time, I needed that positive affirmation more and more. I needed a teacher, a spiritual guide, someone to tell me that I was worth loving, that my body was fine just the way it was, and that, somehow, the universe knew what it was doing. I decided that the most efficient way to do this was to become a yoga teacher myself.

Yoga teacher training isn’t cheap. A class consisting of six months of weekend-long training classes cost nearly $3,000 over five years ago; now it’s more. My first yoga teacher training class had about 20 people in it: several actors and dancers, a special-education teacher, a nutritionist, and a woman whose husband had celiac disease. We met all day Saturday and Sunday, as well as Wednesday nights. My tuition allowed me to go to unlimited yoga classes and to learn the difference between internal and external rotation. I learned how to avoid rotator cuff injuries and finally achieved a handstand. I hoped that by becoming a yoga teacher, I would have better hair, better abs, and better self-esteem. Now, I was the one telling people that they were worthwhile, so I had to believe it for myself.

In the midst of all this bliss, I got fired from my job. It was 2008.

Following the Path to Bliss

But, I’d gotten paid three months severance, which felt like a lot, so I decided to take the plunge and continue my yoga teacher training. The next level was called the 300-hour teacher training, which, added to the 200 hours I’d already completed, would total 500 hours of teacher training. I would then be able to register with the Yoga Alliance — a national organization that costs $55 a month — as a 500-hour certified teacher. (Yoga Alliance standards are non-binding and have been criticized in the past.) I paid an additional $3,000 for more training (in installments this time) and continued to attend yoga classes. I was so blissed out, I could ignore my expiring bank account. I figured the universe would send me a sign.

As part of the advanced teacher training, I assisted a teacher during one class a week: picking up props, doling out blankets, and learning how to pull on people’s hips in down dog without making them cringe. I helped light candles; I was basically a glorified personal assistant. I also got to teach a real yoga class once a week — without getting paid, of course. Up to this point, I’d made zero dollars teaching yoga. The teachers encouraged us to teach for free, to teach anyone, in fact, who would take their shoes off and stumble through a few poses listening to you ramble on how the hips hold feelings of guilt and resentment. Only by giving my skills away would I get something in return.

I did get something out of teaching the free class. I was no longer embarrassed to bellow “OM” into a quiet room. I could chant in semi-melodious tones while my students closed their eyes in corpse pose. I blasted Rasa while my students filed into class and placed their expensive-looking handbags along the side of the wall. One time, I opened a window in the perennially stuffy studio and a woman’s white athletic sock fell out onto the street below. The sock’s owner was focused on tree pose and didn’t see. (I told her, of course, but am ashamed to admit I thought about pretending like it didn’t happen.)

Luckily, the money I wasn’t making was money I saved by becoming a vegan. I eliminated all dairy and meat from my diet. When I engaged in deep meditation practice (also part of being a yoga teacher), I saw a hamburger on the inside of my eyelids, and my eyes watered. My meditation teacher walked by and told me, “This path is not easy.”

After the completion of my 500 hours of yoga teacher training, I was entitled to sub at the yoga studio for $25 a class, minus taxes. Most of the classes were early in the morning and late at night, so I sprinted across town from dawn to dark. I stalked pregnant yoga teachers, waiting for them to go on maternity leave.

Teaching Private Lessons

The real money, I heard, was in private clients, who allegedly paid up to $200 per class. One experienced teacher gave me a private client, a dentist, whom I taught weekly for credits for teeth cleanings. I hoped my polished enamel would compensate for the lack of heath insurance. I got a coveted private client — a middle-aged executive with a tennis injury — whom I met at 5:30 a.m. twice a week. On my way to see him, more than once I encountered people having sex behind a bar, still intoxicated from the night before. I rode the subway with whole classes of people who inhabit the city before the white-collar workers roll into their offices carrying cups of Starbucks: people who serve food and clean floors and take care of children. I went to a family member’s elaborate and costly bar mitzvah — complete with acrobats and someone swallowing fire — and wished that I was working the party, rather than attending it.

Chasing after yoga classes was demeaning and brutal on the body. There was no sick pay, so I worked through the flu and food poisoning from a particularly nasty “health” salad. I picked up a class at 6 a.m. when a teacher left for graduate school and hoped it would turn into a regular gig. Sadly, after a few months, I was replaced with another young yoga teacher, no more experienced than I, but possibly less desperate.

I decided that some professional pictures of me wearing black spandex, contorting my limbs into impressive poses, were necessary for a website to attract private clients, so I shelled out $300 for a photography student to come and take pictures of me. There’s a great photo of me aligned with some mahogany walls, toes pointed in the air. I was able to balance long enough for the photo. But I never got the promised private clients. I stopped paying for the Web host. I put the photo on Facebook and received many likes, so it wasn’t a total waste.

I asked my yoga teachers for advice, feeling that they owed me something. As part of the training, I was assigned a “mentor” who was supposed to shepherd me through the painful process of going from mortal to guru. Mine was an incredibly toned woman with tan limbs who yelled at me to straighten my legs in class. I liked her no-nonsense approach. When I asked her for help finding classes, she asked, “How bad do you want it?”

“Um, well, bad,” I said.

“You have to give things up and wait for your time. The universe will guide you,” she said. I wondered what she meant. I couldn’t always afford food for my dog and gave him half of mine. I asked my parents for more money, convinced that I would break into the business soon.

“Why don’t you just start back on your antidepressants and get a real job?” my mom asked.

Adventures in Retail

Desperate for money and longing to be around luxury even if I couldn’t afford it, I took a job in retail. My phone rang constantly with the calls of credit card companies. I turned off the ringer permanently. I put all those envelopes I couldn’t pay in a drawer.

At my retail job, I soothed myself by folding sweaters and making neat piles, smalls on top, larges on the bottom. I rearranged the knick-knacks that made the store look like a cozy home rather than a place of capitalist domination. A lawyer I used to work with came in one day to shop.

“You work here?” she asked in marvel.

I explained my situation.

“That’s incredible,” she said. “I wish I could be like you.”

Just then, my supervisor pulled me to the side. Someone had stolen several pairs of earrings during my shift as a dressing room attendant. A guard patted me down and checked the folds of my sweater and the cuffs of my jeans for stolen goods.

I began to attach myself to another yoga teacher in the meantime, reasoning that the toned one was simply not my true teacher. “When the student is ready, the teacher comes,” I was told a yogi once said. I thought this woman would be my true teacher. She had a round, open face, liquid dark eyes, and a perfectly proportioned body, softly round yet strong. While my old teacher’s moves were athletic and muscular, like a speed skater, my new teacher was fluid, popping into a handstand without seeming to flex a muscle. She wore hoop earrings and wrapped a beaded mala around her wrist.

One afternoon, I accompanied her as she went shopping in the West Village. We entered a boutique that specialized in drapey silk tunics with delicate embroidery, plush ethnic scarves, and soft cotton T-shirts that are sheer and just right for wearing over a Beyond Yoga support tank ($71). She fingered a turquoise wrap shirt.

“What do you think?” she asked.

I told her that I needed a job. I wasn’t making enough money to pay my rent. I was thinking about moving back in with my parents.

She bought the shirt without trying it on and proposed getting a tea. We sat in a café, and I continued talking. I cried and begged her for help, any kind of help, any kind of job. “I can’t make it as a yoga teacher,” I said.

She offered to put me in touch with someone who needed cater waiters. “It pays well,” she said. “It’s just for a few nights. I’ll send you his email. In the meantime, you should write down what you want on a piece of paper and set the proper intention. If you don’t set the intention, if you don’t really want it, it won’t happen for you.”

‘Washing Dishes Is Like Yoga

“I do want it to happen,” I said, wiping my nose on my sleeve.

I sent my teacher an email about the catering gig once, then twice, and waited for a response that never came.

Finally, one weekend scraping kale and farro off of a plate as a dishwasher at a yoga retreat in upstate New York (discounted price, $300), I decided that I had had enough. My fellow new yoga teacher/ dishwasher kept looking at my handiwork critically.

“Washing dishes is like yoga,” she said. “You have to do it mindfully.” She pointed to some congealed sauce I’d missed on a fork.

After that weekend, I filed for bankruptcy and ended the calls from creditors. I interviewed for a job with benefits and health insurance so that I could start back on antidepressants. I had to work in an office, but at least I could afford a beer after work.

I continued to teach yoga occasionally after that, but I no longer had the heart. It was wrong to tell people to “relax” and “let it go.” I was merely posing as someone who had a sculpted butt and inner peace. There was nothing on that other side, and I couldn’t look into their earnest, searching eyes and pretend otherwise.

More from Credit.com

This article originally appeared on Credit.com.

MONEY Second Career

Why Elite Colleges Are Targeting Baby Boomers for New Career Programs

Stanford college
Linda A. Cicero—Stanford News

Harvard and Stanford have launched programs for high-level execs seeking to change careers. Other universities are looking to jump in.

Stanford University welcomed 25 unusual students onto its campus this month—all in their 50s and 60s.

They are the inaugural fellows of a new program, the Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI), designed for people who want to follow more than one career path in their lifetimes and who want to go back to a college setting for more training. It is the forefront of a new movement for universities to look beyond typical 19-year-old undergraduates.

“People are finding that their initial careers might last 20 or 30 years, and then they need to prepare for new work that might last another couple decades,” says Dr.Philip Pizzo, the founder of the program and a pioneering oncologist who is a former dean of Stanford’s School of Medicine.

DCI is similar to a Harvard University’s Advanced Learning Initiative, launched in 2009. Both are one-year programs that focus on elite “C-suite” leaders looking to transform the second half of their careers, and both are expensive. DCI costs $60,000, not including housing; tuition and other costs of the Harvard program are similar.

Pizzo, who just turned 70, arguably is launching his own next act with the institute after a distinguished career in medicine that includes stints at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University.

He is hoping to start something of a movement. Pizzo says he will start talking with other university leaders later this year about what Stanford is learning at DCI and encourage others to embrace its principles.

“We’re an elite program, but not elitist,” he says.

Another group, the non-profit San Francisco-based group’s “EncoreU” initiative is pushing universities to focus on older students making career changes, and it will convene a group of college presidents this fall to talk about how to make it happen.

LIFE ON CAMPUS

Jere Brooks King is a typical mid-career education fellow. She enrolled in Stanford’s DCI program after a 35-year career in sales and marketing roles at high technology companies, punctuated by early retirement from Cisco in 2011 at age 55. She turned 59 just before DCI’s kick-off this month.

King, who has served on the boards of several non-profits and industry associations, is using the DCI fellowship to expand her knowledge of board governance. She hopes to apply that expertise working with entrepreneurial start-ups focused on technology and social innovation.

“It’s really exciting to explore the latest thinking on campus around the connection between technology and social innovation,” she says. “I’m getting the chance to hear from venture capitalists interested in social innovation, and see what students are doing with their own ventures.”

DCI fellows pick an area of academic focus from nine areas, ranging from arts and humanities to engineering, healthcare or social sciences. They also participate in weekly discussion seminars and intergenerational mentoring and leadership sessions.

What kind of reaction are the DCI fellows getting from Stanford undergraduates?

“We think we fit right in, and we’ve been welcomed warmly,” says King. “But I’m sure we stand out, because we all look like someone’s parent—or grandparent.”

Read next: How to Jump from a Second Career to a Dream Encore Job

MONEY Second Career

Why the New Boomerang Workers Are Rehired Retirees

hand holding boomerang
Dragan Nikolic—iStock

How to go back to work in retirement where you had a full-time job.

You’ve no doubt heard about boomerang kids who return to their parents’ homes in their 20s (maybe you have one). But there’s a growing group of boomerangers who are typically in their 60s: retirees who return to work part-time or on a contract basis at the same employers where they formerly had full-time jobs.

If you’ll be looking for work during retirement, you might want to consider avoiding a job search and becoming one.

Employers That Rehire Their Retirees

A handful of employers have formal programs to rehire their retirees. The one at Aerospace Corp., which provides technical analysis and assessments for national security and commercial space programs, is called Retiree Casual. The company’s roughly 3,700 employees are mostly engineers, scientists and technicians, and Aerospace is glad to bring back some who’ve retired.

“With all the knowledge these people have, we get to call on them for their expertise,” says Charlotte Lazar-Morrison, vice president of human resources at Aerospace, which is based in El Secundo, Calif. “The casuals are part of our culture.”

The roughly 300 Aerospace casuals (love that term, don’t you?) can work up to 1,000 hours a year and don’t accrue any more benefits (the company’s retirees already get health insurance). Most earn the salary they did before, pro-rated to their part-time status, of course.

Why Aerospace Corp. Brings Back ‘Casuals’

The “casuals” program lets Aerospace management have a kind of just-in-time staffing system. “It allows us to us to keep people at the ready when we need them,” says Lazar-Morrison.

Ronald Thompson joined Aerospace’s casuals in 2002, after retiring at age 64. He’d worked for the company full-time since 1964, in program management, system engineering, system integration and test and operations support to the Department of Defense. “It’s a really good way to transition to retirement,” he says. “You need both the physical and mental stimulation to keep you young.”

Thompson worked up to the 1,000-hour limit for the first couple of years. Now that he’s in his mid-70s, he’s cutting back to about 10 hours a week, mostly mentoring younger Aerospace employees. I asked Thompson when he planned to stop working. “I guess my measure is when people won’t listen to me anymore,” he laughed. “That will happen.”

At MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit that operates research and development centers sponsored by the federal government, about 400 of its 7,400 employees are in an optional, flexible “part-time-on-call” phased retirement program. These part-timers can withdraw money from MITRE’s retirement plan while they’re working.

Why Some Employers Don’t Have Rehiring Programs

Why don’t most employers do what Aerospace and MITRE do?

For one thing, it takes a considerable investment in resources to set up a program for former retirees. So the ones who can most afford it are those with skilled workforces who offer customers specialized knowledge.

For another, some employers are wary of getting trapped by complex labor and tax rules. For example, the Internal Revenue Service generally requires firms with retirement plans to delay rehiring retirees for at least six months after they’ve left.

But benefits experts believe boomeranging can make a lot of sense for retirees and the employers where they had worked full-time.

“I think this is really logical away to go back to work, so there is a lot of potential growth if it is made easy,” says Anna Rappaport, a half-century Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and head of her own firm, Anna Rappaport Consulting. “The legal issues need to be clarified and made easy.”

Outsourcing to Bring Retirees In

A growing number of companies are outsourcing the task to bring in some of their retirees. The independent consulting firm YourEncore, created by Procter & Gamble and Eli Lilly, acts as a matchmaker between corporations looking for experts to parachute in and handle pressing problems and skilled “unretirees” wanting an occasional challenge and part-time income. YourEncore has more than 8,000 experts in its network; 65 percent with advanced degrees.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield of America’s “Blue Bring Back” program lets managers request a retired former employee if there’s a project or temporary assignment requiring someone who knows the company’s culture and procedures. Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group manages the program.

Tim Driver, head of RetirementJobs.com, plans on getting into the business of making it easier for employers to re-employ their retirees. His research shows that this type of program works best for companies needing ready access to talent with unique, hard-to-find skills and flexible schedules, such as insurance claims adjusters. When a storm hits, Driver says, insurers need to quickly dispatch trained property-damage adjusters who are knowledgeable about their claims processes and policies.

“It’s an attractive approach for companies that want to have people accessible but not on their books [as full-time employees],” he says.

The option of participating in an formal outsourcing arrangement is likely to grow with the aging of the baby boom population and their embrace of Unretirement. In the meantime, this kind of work deal “will be mostly ad hoc,” says David Delong, president of the consulting firm Smart Workforce Strategies.

How to Get Yourself Retired in Retirement

How can you get a part-time gig with your former employer when you retire?

Delong recommends broaching the topic while you’re still on the job. (My dad always used to say that six months after you leave an employer, people start forgetting you; they’ve moved on and have figured out how to get along without you.)

“Raise the idea with the boss,” says Delong. “Don’t assume they wouldn’t be interested in having you back part-time. The worst they can do is say, ‘no.’”

Taking a job with your former employer in your Unretirement can be a win-win situation for you and your once-and-future boss. After all, you have the knowledge and the skills to do the job well and the employer knows who you are and what you can do.

I suspect this kind of boomerang arrangement will become a bigger slice of a boomer movement toward flexible, part-time work in retirement.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of the new book Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He writes twice a month about the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications of Unretirement, and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income. Send your queries to him at cfarrell@mpr.org or @cfarrellecon on Twitter.

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MONEY Second Career

How to Build a Second-Act Business with Your Millennial Kid

Combining complementary skills of two generations can be a recipe for success

It’s awesome working with my dad,” says Case Bloom, 30. The feeling is mutual, says his father, David, 58: “We are good complements to one another.”

Among the more striking developments I’ve learned researching my new book, Unretirement, is the rise in boomer parents going into business with their adult children, like the Blooms—co-owners of Tucker & Bloom, a Nashville, Tenn. luggage business.

In the past few years, setting up a multigenerational enterprise has been a mutually savvy way for boomers and their kids to deal with tough economic times. The parents typically have capital and plenty of experience, while their adult children burst with energy and tech skills.

From ‘You’ to ‘We’

The Blooms, and their business manufacturing highly-crafted messenger bags targeted at the DJ market, are a prime example. Before opening shop, David had spent his career in bag design and was director of travel products for Coach in New York City before he lost that job. When Case was in college in Nashville, studying business, he’d offer pointers to help his dad’s venture. “His logo was so bad. Horrible,” laughs Case. “I’d tell him, ‘You’re doing it wrong. Do it like this.’”

Eventually, Case says, it became “We should do it this way. The business happened organically.” Today, father and son each own half of the company, which has seven employees. David handles design and product development; Case is in charge of anything to do with the brand image and online sales. He’s also the one making frequent runs to Home Depot for the business’s factory and to the Post Office for shipments. “I have a different set of skills than my father,” says Case, who is also a part-time DJ.

When Kinship Is Friendship

One reason for the growing second-act-plus-child trend: surveys repeatedly show that today’s young adults generally get along well with their parents—and vice versa. “The key is an attitudinal shift in the relations between generations,” says Steve King, founder of Emergent Research, a consulting firm focused on the small business economy. “Boomers are close to their kids and the kids are close to their parents.”

Take Amanda Bates, a Gen X’er, and her mother Kit Seay, co-owners of Tiny Pies in Austin, Texas. “We’ve always had a close relationship, feeding off one another, finishing each other’s sentences,” says Kit, 73. They’d long wanted to do something together.

Several years ago, Amanda got the idea for making handheld pies from her son’s desire to take pie to school. So she and her mother began selling small pies, based on family recipes, in local farmers markets. They now sell them throughout the state, mostly through specialty stores, and opened a retail storefront at their wholesale facility in March 2014. Kit focuses on the creative and catering side of the business; Amanda’s in charge of the basics of running an enterprise. “The trust is there,” says Kit. Amanda agrees. “Yes, the trust is there. If she says something will get done, it will.”

Teaching Your Child Trust

Trust and complementary skills are also themes for Lee Lipton, 59, and his son Max, 25, and their Benny’s On the Beach restaurant in Lake Worth, Fla.

Lee, the restaurant’s principal owner, came out of the clothing manufacturing business, moving to Florida after the Calvin Klein outerwear line he ran with a few partners was sold. He bought Benny’s a year ago. Max, who’d wanted to get into the food business, is one partner; the other is chef Jeremy Hanlon. Lee’s the deal maker, Max manages the restaurant and executive chef Hanlon handles the kitchen. “The three of us trust each other incredibly and when one person feels strongly about something we tend to do it that way,” Lee says. “Very rarely after talking do we disagree, and that format was identical to my past partners. I want to teach Max and Jeremy that closeness.”

For second-act family businesses, creating boundaries between work and home is advisable, but easier to say than do. Speaking about her current relationship with her mom, Amanda Bates says: “We used to go out together and have fun, go to garage sales, that kind of thing. Now, when we get together, the business always come up. Even at family dinners, we end up talking business.”

The Win-Win of Multigenerational Businesses

But in the end, it’s family that makes these businesses succeed.

Bianca Alicea, 26, and her mom Alana, 46, started tchotchke-maker Chubby Chico Charms. in North Providence, R.I. with $500 and less than 100 charm designs at their dining room table in 2005. They now have roughly 25 full-time employees and sell several thousand handmade charms. Alana is the designer; Bianca deals more with payroll and other aspects of the business. “It’s important to remember you are family,” says Bianca. “Things don’t always go according to plan, but at the end of the day you have to see one another as family.”

Intergenerational entrepreneurship, it turns out, can be a win-win for boomers and their kids. For the parents, it’s the answer to the question: What will I do in my Unretirement? For their adult children, working with mom and dad provides them with greater meaning than just picking up a paycheck.

Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor for American Public Media’s Marketplace and author of the new book Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community, and The Good Life. He writes twice a month about the personal finance and entrepreneurial start-up implications of Unretirement, and the lessons people learn as they search for meaning and income. Send your queries to him at cfarrell@mpr.org or @cfarrellecon on Twitter.

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MONEY Retirement

How to Make the Tricky Switch to Nonprofit Work

Coming from the corporate world might not be seen as a plus.

When I was researching my book, Unretirement, I was struck by how many boomers wanted to connect their passion to a paycheck by doing nonprofit work. People with long careers in the private sector often told me that they were eager to do things like help tackle homelessness or address recidivism or educate at-risk children.

The late historian Daniel Boorstin called nonprofits “monuments to community.” And it’s little wonder that growing numbers of boomers are acting on their desire to give back through this incredibly diverse sector, rich with opportunities. Nonprofits range from huge institutions with the trappings of big business to mom-and-pops with a cadre of dedicated employees and volunteers.

Making the leap from the for-profit world to the nonprofit one isn’t always easy, though.

(MORE: Mistakes to Avoid If You Want a Nonprofit Job)

How Not to Do It

When I gave a talk last August at Verrado, a multigenerational planned community in Arizona, a man in the audience had everyone in stitches relaying his tale of self-inflicted woe as he tried making the switch.

When he retired from a corporate career in IT management, he said, he hoped to take his skills to a nonprofit and make a difference. But after getting a job at one and loudly telling his new colleagues they were doing IT all wrong, he was soon thanked for his insights and shown the door. The same thing happened at another nonprofit. These days, he told me, he’s driving a car to make some money while rethinking his approach toward working at a nonprofit — still his goal.

When I relayed his story to Kate Barr, executive director of the Nonprofits Assistance Fund — a Minneapolis-based group that offers capital and expertise to Minnesota nonprofits — she didn’t find it surprising. “It’s a myth that nonprofits don’t know what they’re doing,” says Barr. “Most of them do.”

Start On a Board

Barr, who made the transition from the corporate world with aplomb, has some smart advice for midlifers who’d like to do it. She started her career as a dancer at small dance companies, pirouetted into banking and after 22 years of that (eventually becoming a senior vice president), landed her Nonprofits Assistance Fund job in 2000.

When professionals ask Barr how to make a similar shift, her first question to them is: “Do you serve on any nonprofit boards?” If not, she says, get on some before jumping careers. Board membership, Barr says, offers an opportunity to understand the dynamics of nonprofits.

If you think joining a board is just for the uber-rich who can write big checks, Barr says you’re mistaken. While some nonprofit boards recruit solely from the wealthy and the well-connected (think big-city orchestras and major nonprofit hospitals), many of the nation’s roughly 1.44 million nonprofits don’t (think local food banks and small arts groups).

(MORE: 7 Top Websites for Nonprofit Jobs)

As a board member, you’ll be expected to make an annual contribution to the cause. But often, the sums are relatively small. “There are lots of boards to choose from,” Barr says.

Volunteer to Be a Volunteer

Another way in, says Charles McLimans, “volunteer your services” at a nonprofit. “Ask, ‘what do you need me to do?,’” he advises. Like Barr, McLimans, 49, speaks from experience.

He began his career in the corporate sector, including work at REFCO, the commodities trading firm. In 2006, when he moved to Naperville, Ill., to be closer to his family, his sister suggested he volunteer at Loaves and Fishes, a food pantry. In 2008, he became its executive director and only full-time employee.

He’ll soon move to Milwaukee, Wisc. to be President and Chief Executive of Feeding America, Eastern Wisconsin, a 45-person employee hunger-relief organization. “It’s a great opportunity,” says McLimans.

Crosby Kemper III, Executive Director of the Kansas City Public Library, has a few other questions to think deeply about before making the leap to nonprofits. “I’d say the first thing you have to do is ask yourself, ‘What do you want to do with your life? What gifts do you have to give to the world? What do you want to do with the last part of your life?’”

(MORE: Find a Nonprofit Job Matched to Your Passions)

Kemper asked himself those questions before taking the library position in 2005.

Like Barr, Kemper had been a long-time banker (although he took some major career breaks, including a year teaching English in China). He became Chairman and Chief Executive of UMB Financial in 2000, based in Kansas City, Mo., and retired five years later. When the possibility of the library job came up, he talked it over with close friends and met with patrons of the library. Although he enjoyed his business career, Kemper says, “ultimately it didn’t fulfill everything I wanted to do. The life of the mind and the civic role are important, too.”

How to Do a Nonprofit Job Search

No matter what mission or cause attracts you, some of the keys to finding rewarding work at a nonprofit are the same as with any thoughtful job search: Figuring out what do you really want to do, understanding your skillset, knowing what you have to offer and tapping into your network for job leads.

What’s different about the job search at a nonprofit is the opportunity to experiment — to test-drive the combination of your talents and an organization’s needs through volunteering. By learning about a group from the bottom rung of its career ladder, you can understand the intricacies of the nonprofit without romanticizing working there.

After all, even with the most noble vision, every nonprofit is like any other business, with plenty of shortcomings and frustrations. But through volunteering, you’ll live with them and can then decide whether to try to convert your free labor into a part-time or full-time paid position that’ll add meaning to your life.

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