AFTER 14 YEARS on active duty with the U.S. Army, I recently walked away from being a fulltime soldier. At age 39, it’s the only professional life I’ve known. I plan to complete my 20 years of service in the U.S. Army Reserve, which will earn me a reduced pension.
It would be hard to argue this was a smart financial decision. While defined benefit plans have mostly been replaced by defined contribution plans such as 401(k),
I RECENTLY LEFT my fulltime position at an energy trading company. I had a good run and enjoyed the job. It was mainly the people, both my coworkers and our clients.
I also liked the business travel. It broke up the daily routine and put faces to names, plus there were the awesome ribeye steak dinners with clients. Speaking at conferences was fun, too.
But things evolve. To quote Rocky, “If I can change and you can change,
I WAS AGE 31 when I started my job as a department manager at a small college in Portland, Oregon. Back then, it wasn’t unusual for people to mistake me for one of the students.
Now I’m 53 and people assume I’m the mother of one of the students. I’ve been working at the college for more than 22 years, which means I’ve been there longer than most of the current students have been alive.
AFTER 23 YEARS working in corporate finance for companies such as Amgen and Patagonia, I’m making a career switch this fall, becoming a fulltime lecturer at California Lutheran University. While I always enjoyed my corporate roles and liked my colleagues, I’ve long had a passion for teaching and wanted to make it my fulltime work.
While some co-workers and friends assumed this change was an impulsive decision driven by a midlife crisis or brought on by some epiphany while working at home during the pandemic,
WHEN I WAS in my 20s, I joined a large aerospace company. It was my first job out of college. I was an employee who thought all my colleagues were team players working toward the best interest of the company.
Back then, I’d never heard of the term “office politics.” But Ron, my boss, took it to a whole new level. He was an expert at manipulating people.
Ron joined the company a year after I did.
I’M THE TYPE of person who likes to plan. I have at least 10 to-do lists going at any one time. I have calendars on my refrigerator, my desk and my phone. I plan out my days, my months, my years and, on occasion, my decades.
My job, managing the biology department at a small liberal arts college, is a perfect fit for my personality. For the past 22 years, I’ve methodically planned out every day of each semester.
A REVOLUTION in the workforce is creating an underutilized resource: workers over age 50. These workers represent more than a quarter of the U.S. labor force, and that number is expected to climb sharply as the population ages.
For these workers, it would be a boon—financially and otherwise—if they could stay in the workforce for longer. It would also be great for the economy, ensuring we continue to have enough workers to produce the goods and services that society needs.
WHEN ASKED, MOST people say their most valuable financial asset is their home. But what gave them the financial wherewithal to buy that house, as well as to purchase a car, buy food and pay for vacations? It was their career. Everything that has a financial component in our life starts with our earnings potential.
Take a young adult making $60,000 a year. Assuming a 2% annual raise, he or she would haul in nearly $3 million over a 35-year career.
IN OCTOBER, while I was visiting family in California, I got a text from an old friend, Tass. He had lost his job.
Tass and I were close buddies in college, but we lost touch. After completing our undergraduate degrees in computer science, I started working, while Tass pursued a business degree. We soon ended up in different parts of the globe. Many years later, we bumped into each other at an airport. I learned that Tass had moved abroad to start his own offshore business.
A WRITER RECENTLY asked my opinion of gig economy jobs and how they could benefit retirees looking for extra income. I looked up the term to be sure my understanding was correct. It was—except we used to call the jobs “temporaries,” “part-time,” “project work” or “consulting.” As I told the writer, a gig economy job sounds pretty good for us retirees who want to keep active or supplement our income, especially if it doesn’t involve being a crossing guard.
WHEN I WAS A CHILD growing up in Ohio in the 1950s, my two best friends were Tommy and Terry. They were brothers who taught me a lot about life. When I was nine years old, they showed me how to smoke a cigarette. They also taught me what the middle finger was all about. Okay, some of this stuff wasn’t what you’d want your child to know. But they also helped me learn an important lesson about money.
WHEN I WAS a teenager, I couldn’t wait to get a summer job. Just the thought of it would give me goose bumps. Why? I could earn my own money and buy the car I desperately wanted: a two-tone 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air with a big steering wheel that looked like it belonged on a bus.
My dream was to gain some independence and drive myself wherever I needed to go. After working a number of summer jobs,
THE OLD ADAGE says it’s never too late to change. Yet, once folks over age 50 decide they need to change careers, moving early has some key advantages:
It takes time. Career transitions can be slower than anticipated.
It legitimizes the move. Switching before the traditional retirement age may demonstrate your commitment to a new career.
It’s enjoyable to switch. If you know things aren’t currently working, why not make the change?
I faced my own career-change decision at age 51.
OWNING A BUSINESS comes with a unique opportunity: the chance to better the lives of your employees. The paycheck you provide helps them pay for their daily expenses and supports the local economy. But there’s an opportunity to do even more: By being thoughtful in how you structure employee benefits, you can ensure they have a more prosperous future, while also helping them lead happier lives today.
Remember, money is simply a tool to help you enjoy your life—and one way to do that is to buy time.
IN 2015, I WAS selected for the “leadership pipeline program” at the major bank where I worked. It was a 10-month-long program for minority employees just below executive level. We were selected to learn all about corporate culture and what it took to advance to the next level. I felt honored to be among such talented and promising employees.
Participants were from various departments from across the U.S.—technology, risk management, operations, compliance, human resources,