For so many of us, the concept of retirement is rarely black and white. That’s why we talk a lot about the Grey Zone. Sure, some folks walk away from work at age 65 and enjoy full-time retiree life. Other people, however, choose to phase into this new chapter.
There are a handful of ways that people enter this retirement Grey Zone – some retirees take on part-time work, while others leave their old jobs and start a brand-spanking-new career.
This approach makes sense especially for individuals who want to retire early. After all, you may be ready to call it a career, but your Social Security benefits, pension, or Medicare coverage may not yet be available. So, there’s often an income gap that early retirees need to fill during the time they say goodbye to full-time work and hello to quasi-retirement.
Remember that the goal of navigating through the Grey Zone is not necessarily to continue to save for retirement but to reduce how much you draw from your existing nest egg. We want to delay using our retirement savings at all, if possible. If we do need to dip in, we want to mitigate how much these get tapped.
There are a variety of ways to continue to bring in income during your retirement Grey Zone. For instance, if you have a rental home, the rent – assuming your house is paid off or the rent is above the mortgage – sweetens your money pot. Or perhaps you’ve been considering other things that you can do to bring in extra cash before you’re fully retired.
How your early retirement will look is up to you; there are a variety of ways you can reduce your hours on the job as you work towards full retirement. Maybe you stay in your career but go from working 40 to 50 hours a week to only working 20 to 30. Or perhaps you’ll choose to do something different entirely; work that you find satisfying and less demanding than your life-long profession.
Consider this list of five ways that you can get a jumpstart on retirement, without having to commit to being “fully retired.” In this list, you’ll find ways to generate some additional income, decompress from the corporate world, and gain some new experiences along the way.
1. Start a Second Career – Maybe there’s a field that you’ve always been interested in, but never pursued. Now that you’re done with the corporate grind, you have the time to do just that. If you worked as a lawyer but were always interested in becoming a real estate agent, you can do that now. Some folks move from the business world into the field of nonprofits, churches, or schools. If there’s been an itch to try something new (and make an impact in your community), now’s the time to scratch it.
2. Try Out Consulting – Over your career, you undoubtedly amassed a tremendous skill and knowledge base. Parlay that expertise into the targeted job of consulting. Almost half of all my clients have done this very thing. After all, your experience is valuable, and many companies are willing to pay for it.
3. Get a Part-Time Job – Looking for flexible work during the Grey Zone is a great way to stay active, meet new people, and generate some extra cash. Say you were an engineer. You could use your knowledge to tutor kids of all grade levels in science and math. If you were an accountant, maybe you want to freelance as a bookkeeper. Or you could do something that fulfills one of your passions. If you love animals, for instance, you could work for a pet store or animal adoption agency. The options are limitless.
4. Turn You Hobby into an Income Stream – Talking about passions, maybe you have something you love doing that could make you some extra cash. If you have a love of theater and acting, why not audition to be in a commercial, TV show or movie? Perhaps you’re a crafty DIYer. Set up shop on Etsy. For other artistic types, you could showcase your work at a local coffee shop, or offer painting services for set design or murals for local businesses. The more musically inclined could gig around town at events, festivals, and lounges.
5. Sabbatical – This one is great for folks who may just need a break to recharge. Depending on your employer, you may be able to take a year off to decompress and to explore other interests. The benefit here is that, after some extended time off, you may come back to work refreshed and ready to take on new projects for another few years before heading into full-time retirement.