Monday, February 11, 2013

Working in Retirement: Tiny Jobs & ‘Tasksumers’


Tiny jobs are trending
Back in the day, retirement meant you stopped working. Our parents went from a full-time job to no job at all. When they hit 65, their lives changed overnight. One day they headed out on the freeway, or train or bus like they had for countless days before. The next day they slept in and wore Bermuda shorts.

Today, baby boomers are redefining retirement. Here are some of the trends:
• second careers
• late retirement
• early retirement
• part-time work well 
into the golden years
• mobile work that lets you 
travel or live in different places

Why Are We Working?
Many people simply can’t afford to retire. For some, their Social Security payment is just too small. Even those with pensions often can’t get by. Aside from the economy, there are many reasons, including ours. We are older parents of a child heading to college. At an age when lots of folks are ready to stop working, we face college costs that have soared since were students. Having children later in life is certainly a baby boomer trend, and lots of us are feeling the pinch as college comes around.

Working at home has its perks
In fact, a “retirement job” is becoming the new normal. A whopping 75% of workers 50 and over expect to work in retirement, according to a study by the Families and Work Institute. Not all of them work only for the money. Half said they also work to stay active or to contribute and be productive.

More people than ever retire early from their original career, but lots of them start second, often very different, vocations. Others just keeping working well past the traditional retirement age, like my 83-year-old cousin who is going strong as a college professor after 50 years.

Part-Time Paychecks
The most common compromise is part-time work. For every greeter at Walmart, there are thousands of other semi-retired people who will work part time well into their golden years. At first glance, it seems that all of them would be anchored to their area. But just as tiny houses are trending, so are tiny jobs. And lots of them can be done from home or anywhere.

My absolute favorites are the jobs done by “citizen venders,” as The New Yorker magazine calls them. They are part of a cyber-marketplace of Web sites that let people bid on services and goods provided by, well, anyone. From the frivolous Fiverr to Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to the fast-growing freelance.com, people are paid to grocery shop, file insurance claims or make singing Valentine videos. Or you can get tiny work through apps like Gigwalk, where companies task out micro-jobs rather than tie up a full-time employee. Called “tasksumers,” cyber workers don’t all wait for a mini-job they like; many are going after business with apps like Foap, where you can upload and sell your photography. 

The flexibility of tiny jobs is perfect if you want to travel in retirement. Many apps push jobs to your smart phone based on your location. You might verify some street names and check some in-store product placements, and, bam, you’ve paid for dinner.

Foap is just one smart phone app that lets you work tiny
Up next: Vocations on Vacation, a look at working on the road

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