Friday, March 28, 2014

Working in Retirement-Sometimes it IS About the Work (and other Friday musings)

Earning extra money in retirement-it's something that happens for many of us. Sometimes (often in fact), it's because we LIKE to work-we just want to be in control.  Sometimes working or having a business in retirement comes about because we want extra cash for-whatever.  Sometimes we work in retirement in order to let retirement savings/investment amount sit untouched for as long as possible.

As a retiree on a fixed income, I have had a home business for more than one of these reasons.  I enjoy the extra money (especially in years when I am looking at a ten thousand dollar inland waterways cruise in my future). I enjoy the process and rewards of having a business.  Being me though, I hate to have my retirement gig interfere with well, retirement. I still want to take off when I choose, keep the hours I want, volunteer intensively and for long periods of time, and sit and daydream or read whenever the mood strikes.  In other words, I want it all.

As many readers know, for a long period of time I had a home quilting and sewing business. I maintained an Etsy shop, a Facebook page and sold at craft fairs.  I did this because I loved sewing and quilting.  I believed (and still believe) that the best businesses are based on things that we enjoy. Unfortunately, for me, this particular business did not work, and I have stopped selling my creations (although I may do some local craft fairs and specialty sales.  Why?  Put simply, I was resenting the time that I spent making things for other people.  I also was not getting "any joy" as the saying goes, from making things that I would not normally make.

 Part of being a business person in this area is making what the market wants. I have, let's say, unique tastes. I consider lime green to be a neutral and my repainted bedroom is bright, bright yellow, with furniture painted in lime, turquoise and peach.  Hey, at least one room in this house has been redone. I like to experiment as I sew and quilt.  Also, this kind of business requires maintaining a web page and updating it daily, taking pictures of the process, and keeping immaculate records.  It was not for me, and I have gone back to using my artistic side for gifts, charity, family and myself.

That said, I did want to do some kind of part time gig.  But I didn't want to have to be quite so "businesslike" in terms of keeping records and such. I also wanted whatever the gig was to be much more portable. Putting my store and Facebook page on vacation (and losing sales) during travel or intensive times was not working for me. So I decided to rethink my lifestyle and look at my skills again.

Besides being an artistic person who never met a spring or summery color she hated, I spent a large part of my post stay at home years being an administrative assistant to the assistant chief of a government agency. This required doing piles of admin like tasks, especially in the research, proofreading, and Publisher and PowerPoint areas of life.  I can make a visual argument on any topic look appetizing. More importantly, I'm one of those folks who can scan a document page or article and pick out the important line or two in less than ten seconds. My brain has the ability to hone in on a single word that appears in a Google search, and I was experienced in writing book and app reviews

All this is to say that after some thought, I went to a third party site and registered as a "virtual assistant".  I specify the things I want to do and how I want to get paid, and I work as much (or as little) as I choose on any given day.  This work is extremely portable and requires nothing more than a laptop.  What's even more important about this work  is that it is surprisingly challenging and interesting. This part time (an hour or a two per day max) gig has not been boring since I began.  Shocking sometimes, but not boring

Much of what I do is web searching by the hour, and for an extra fee I write research summaries. In the past week or so I have researched organ (musical) societies and organ makers in the US. I have researched blogs on dog care. I've researched filming locations of science fiction and fantasy movies in Canada for folks who want to make a "map" of such things. I've researched scientific data on speed and online dating and "flirting". I've searched for articles on how people have altered their lives with small changes, I've researched "Moneyball" recruiting, and today I'm searching for a list of "open mic" opportunities in a large city for a client. I've researched travel requirements and prices for people who, unlike my friend Tamara, hate doing that type of thing. I've even written a couple personalized "three days in Denver" travel guides, dependent on age and interests.

As with any job, business or side activity, a little rain must fall here and there.  I did have to go back and make it clear that my book review would not include certain kinds of books (really. don't ask) and it is occasionally surprising to me how many academic or business management  types seemingly do not know the difference between a qualitative and a quantitative question. Overall though, its the perfect part time job for a lazy retiree. Work when you want, stop when you want, let someone else take charge of the collection and payments, and spend the money you've got. To say that I am extremely happy to date with this choice would be an understatement. It's working for me.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I'll tentatively be joining my "crafting group". I am eternally happy to have found a group of folks who would rather (make cards, knit, make earrings sew, draw, paint) than most anything.  Tonight my lovely sister is making steak, gnocchi with pesto butter and asparagus and lemon tart. Can I just say that the lemon tarts at Costco are to die for, and I consider myself a baker extreme?

Tomorrow evening I'm having ten from my church for dinner group. Fortunately, that just requires cleaning my still not completely unpacked or painted house, getting some kind of appetizer, setting the table and throwing a ham in the oven (hey, it's spring!).

Sunday will be church, golfing, hiking with the dogs and finalizing dates with family for my travel from now through the end of the fall (to ensure house coverage and dog care coverage, among other things).  I know I have some blogging friends traveling in some of the same locales, and it would be wonderful to have a chance to "meet up" somewhere down the line.  Who knows!

As for tonight?  I'll be saying a little prayer for Michigan State (even though I accidentally picked Virginia on my online bracket) and reminding myself that this college basketball year is the perfect example of why one should never, ever, ever bet on sports. Not even in the office pool.  Dayton?  Seriously??

And so it goes, this Friday in retirement.


  1. Glad you found that craft group, wish I lived in a big enough city to have something along that line.

    Oh well, I will muddle along on my own and keep checking out blogs for inspiration.

    God bless.

  2. Hi Barb: May I ask what third party site you used? Seems we could be twin sisters of different mothers! I am currently a "semi-retired" former school teacher with a wicked red pen who does some freelance administrative assistant work. I'm also a quilter who likes to give quilts to charities. I'd like to find another "client" to supplement my retired lifestyle!

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