When most people think of retirement, they imagine old folks wearing Hawaiian shirts and slippers with socks sipping cocktails on some island in the tropics. Unfortunately, if that tropical island is Singapore, instead of a pina colada, you’re more likely to retire with tissue packets in your hand as you try to hawk them on the streets.
The answer for many would-be retirees without a pile of assets to fall back in is part-time work that doesn’t require a lot of physical effort and yet pays a decent amount. Bonus points if you can leverage your many years of career experience to command a better wage.
The great thing about being willing to work part-time during retirement is that it will allow you to retire a lot earlier than if you insist on spending your retirement days living at a resort in Bali surrounded by masseuses.
However, you’re probably not going to be looking for a part-time gig as a bartender at the Butter Factory or an emcee at a roadshow (although becoming a getai emcee might be a more viable option). Retirees should probably look at the following criteria when deciding on a retirement job:
- Part-time or flexible hours – working 1-3 times a week; alternatively, just mornings or afternoons
- Not physically demanding – let’s just say you’re probably not going to be reliving your younger days as a ballet teacher unless you’ve managed to maintain exceptional fitness levels over the years
- Pays a decent hourly wage – if you can help it, you’re going to want to avoid bargain basement wages, since you might as well just not retire if you need to work 240 hours a month in order to earn $1,000 at your new post-retirement gig.
1. Work in your previous job part-time
If you’ve amassed decades of experience in your current job, it often makes sense to continue doing it on a part-time basis. You’ll be paid an amount that rewards you for your years of experience without the commitment of a full-time post. And it sure beats trying to carve out a new career in retail or F&B.
Many people are unwilling to give younger workers part-time positions, thinking it signals a lack of commitment. For instance, many women lawyers with children prefer to work part-time, but firms are loath to take them on. Completely understandable of course, I mean, try telling Satan you’ll sell half your soul and see what he says.
It’s a different story when it comes to older workers, though, and many of my friends’ parents have successfully gotten jobs as part-time accountants or part-time secretaries for instance.
Part-time work isn’t just limited to corporate-type professional jobs either. My friend’s mum, Mrs Cheong, used to run her own beauty salon. These days she does facials on a part-time basis from the comfort of her own home.
This is a good option if you’re unwilling to take a drastic pay cut and don’t hate your job so much you’ve been counting down to the day you’ll be free from it forever.
Earnings: Comparable but probably slightly lower than what you earned in your previous job pro-rated to the number of days or hours you work.
When you’re looking for a part-time job during retirement, it’s best not to accept positions that pay single-digit hourly wages if you can help it. Becoming a tuition teacher is one of those jobs that pays a relatively high hourly wage.
Best of all, your age probably will not work against you in this line, since parents are more likely to trust a strict-looking elderly Chinese language tutor who looks like she’ll whip their children into shape than some inexperienced young punk.
If you have kids or grandkids, you probably already have some familiarity with the current school syllabus. You can also use your professional field to your advantage when pitching for subjects; for instance, if you used to be an engineer or accountant, teach math. If you used to be a journalist, you should have no trouble getting English assignments. You should be able to charge even more than what the uni students are getting because of your industry experience.
Earnings: $20 to $70 an hour, depending on the level of students and subjects being taught.
Being a consultant in the field you used to work in is a great way to capitalise on your expertise without going through the exhausting grind of being a full-time professional.
It’s also great if you have lots of industry contacts and are able to bring in business, because you get to sit back and delegate most of the work.
Becoming a consultant means different things in different fields, but consultants usually either offer advice to the professionals working in the company or bring in business and then delegate some of it to juniors.
For example, an accounting consultant might offer advice to accounting firms on how to reorganise their financial reports or deal with new regulations. On the other hand, an F&B consultant might jump from restaurant to restaurant offering advice on how to organise their operations.
The nice thing about being a consultant is that with the benefit of flexible hours and no longer being treated like a lowly worm by demanding bosses, you might actually start to enjoy an industry you once despised.
Earnings: Professional rates
4. Hobby teacher
Unless you went through four decades of work with no hobbies and no life outside of work, you’ve probably gotten pretty damn good at some hobby or other. Let’s hope that hobby wasn’t playing World of Warcraft or shopping.
In fact, most of my friends’ parents seem to have more hobbies than young people these days, probably because there was no Facebook back then.
Teaching your hobby with the benefit of all that experience can be a great way to earn an extra buck in a flexible manner without feeling like you’re getting sucked back into the corporate game.
Many retirees teach hobby courses at community centres, and you’ll have the added bonus of getting to know many other seniors in the process. Whether you’re conducting a cooking course, organising a karaoke session or teaching yoga, you can probably attract a decent number of clients just by sticking up a banner outside the community club.
My friends’ father, Mr Cheong, who used to be in the navy, now gives swimming lessons in the pool at his condo. All he has to do to get to work is take the lift downstairs, which is great as he says he’s too old to be stuck in peak hour traffic.
Earnings: $15-$50 an hour, more if you teach multiple students at the same time
Are you planning to work part-time after you retire and what are your plans? Let us know in the comments!