Late in 2019, the New York Times ran a story about over 50 and freelancing to fill the gaps in Retirement Funds. The 12th September 2019 article highlighted some of the challenges most retirees experience and some of the creative ways the aged are navigating the boredom and financial problems that come after retiring. The article looked at how freelancing is helping the retirees enjoy life again. When the elderly retire, they face several challenges, with the most significant problem being boredom. Since they are used to working for all their lives, staying at home doing nothing becomes a big challenge. Although some retirees start doing menial jobs to keep themselves busy, becoming a freelancer in the UAE is a good way for the elderly to remain active and gain economic freedom.
How Retirees are Turning to Freelancing for Economic Freedom
Charlotte Bishop is a retiree at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, where she was teaching business management for 41 years. Charlotte quit her job while in her early 60s in 2006 to spend more time with her grandchildren. However, after a few months, she had a realization that she needed a job. According to Bishop, she needed to start working again to kill boredom and for money reasons. Financially, she wanted to prepare better in case she is around for many more years.
At the same time, Charlotte had spotted a business opportunity that she could pursue. During her few months in retirement, most of her aging friends were asking for her help in sorting through their belongings and papers with some even willing to pay for the service. Bishop saw an opportunity, and since she was good at filing and organizing, she was ready to pursue it as her freelance business. To make a business dream reality, she undertook entrepreneurship training and developed a plan for her organizing consultancy, Life Files Professionals. Today at the age of 73, Ms. Bishop is a successful entrepreneur with a steady income. She says that she gets fulfillment from working, and thus, she has no interest in the second retirement.
While Ms. Bishop found her hobby, Steven Winn saw an opportunity to continue what he was doing during his employment. The 68-year-old was working at The San Francisco Chronicle for 28 years before becoming a freelancer in his late 50s. He was offered a small buyout package to stop working for the newspaper. Winn says that he was not ready to retire, but he knew he needed a change. Today, he makes a living by writing assignments, book authorship, and consulting. Winn claims that he will continue with his freelance career for as long as it takes.
Peggy saw an opportunity to do what has been growing inside her for years finally. Despite having a successful career in brand management for big companies like General Electric and Johnson, Peggy Hill always dreamt of being a successful entrepreneur. After working for over 30 years in the corporate world, Peggy felt it was time for a change and become her own boss. As she aged, she thought that she needed to have more control over her life. As a New York City-based yoga instructor, Peggy knows that she has to go beyond a hobby to become successful.
Peggy explains that teaching is not a hobby for her, as she has to be strategic. She has to assess competition to make decisions on how to differentiate herself. Peggy realized that being older can give her market advantage by targeting individuals over the age of 40. To her, age is a double-edged sword that can cut both ways, and thus, you should be strategic on how you use your age.
After losing her job as a communication director of the Board of Regents for the State of Iowa, the 57 years old, Sheila panicked with the realization that her resume gap grew wider every day. Sheilla and her husband were planning to pay off their mortgage before they go on retirement, but that was not going to be possible on one salary. Sheilla was actively looking for a full-time job to help her husband pay off the mortgage. When she realized that she might not get a job, she enrolled for an entrepreneurship course at the Iowa Center for Economic Success. Sheilla then began a business that offers writing and editing services. Her plans are not to retire but to grow and sustain the business well into her old age.
Why should Retirees Consider Pursuing a Freelance Career?
Although freelancing is seen as a career for young individuals, a study by the Freelancers Union and Upwork found that 30 percent of Americans above 55 years worked as a freelancer in 2018. The statistics are only expected to increase in the near future as more people are no longer looking to work in a 9-to-5 schedule, but they are also not comfortable with not working at all. Moreover, more people and businesses are looking to hire freelancers in the UAE giving retirees and independent contractors more opportunities. According to Caitlin Pearce, who is the executive director of the freelancers union, a lot of people above the age of 55 are starting to explore freelancing.
Caitlin goes further to explain that although nobody wants to see the elderly work longer than they want, freelancing is turning to be a solution for individuals who may not have saved enough to retire out rightly. According to the president of the AARP Foundation, Lisa Marsh Ryerson, many 65-year-olds are still paying mortgages, facing extra medical expenses, and declining pension opportunities, which make retirement difficult. The challenges make the elderly want to continue working to earn money, which makes becoming a freelancer in the UAE a good option when traditional employment is not viable.
If you are in an industry where ageism is a significant factor, becoming a freelancer in the UAE is an excellent opportunity to seek new sources of income for retirees who feel forced into retirement. The nature of freelance work means that you determine when to work, which is better for the elderly who may need to give more time to their health.