Monday, 23 August 2010

Life after retirement

By EUGENE MAHALINGAM
eugenicz@thestar.com.my

RETIREMENT. To many people, it refers to the period in life where one should be kicking back, relaxing and catching up on the things they never could during their long, gruelling working lives.

Realistically, however, not many people get a chance to enjoy their retirement period, usually due to financial constraints that comes once we stop earning a living.

With the rising cost of living, many retirees are finding it difficult to make ends meet with their EPF (Employees Provident Fund) savings or pension scheme alone and are forced to continue working.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to skip that group of people who, during their working lives, were prudent with their expenses and shrewd with their investments and are now laughing themselves all the way to the bank till the day they die.

For those who still need to earn a living post retirement, embarking on a job can still be fun and need not be a burden. In fact, many of today’s retirees view retirement not as an end, but instead as a new and exciting phase in their lives.

Work from home

For a retiree, working from home has its advantages, says Janice Tam, a retired school teacher.
“You can work at your own pace and avoid the hassle of travelling to and fro to an actual office,” she says.
Tam today provides tuition classes for kids below 12 years of age.

“Providing tuition classes is a very popular side income alternative. Baby sitting is also a good post retirement job choice, especially when the parents drop the child at your place and saves you the hassle of having to go to their home.”

Starting your own business

Many a times, the experiences of a long career can provide retirees with the confidence and knowledge to launch a successful business.

G. Murthy used to serve with the armed forces and now, at 57, is heading his own security firm.

“My experience with the armed forces allowed me to gain invaluable knowledge in self defence and now it not only allows me to help protect people, it also provides me with a decent income.”

Sometimes, the knowledge and experience could be gained from a family business.
Growing up, Rashid Abu Bakar, now 67, used to enjoy the nasi lemak his mum sold to the local village-folk to earn a living.

After serving with the Government, he is now retired and is continuing the family business and claims that it is “good pocket money.”

“It makes for a good side income on top of the pension that I get every month.”
Rashid says he enjoys eating the nasi lemak just as much as he does making them.

“As it’s important to find pleasure in what you do, or else it would just become a burden. I have to wake up very early in the morning to prepare the food but it is something that I enjoy doing.”

He adds that it is important to understand the demands and dynamics of running your own business, its prospects and needs.

Become a consultant

Many people retire from their jobs only to become consultants to their previous employers or advisors to organisations within the industry.

Says Alvin Loh, 63, an advisor to a local property developer: “Consult-ing provides you with a lot of flexibility and due to the person’s invaluable years of experience, demand for such jobs are good and so is the salary.”

Go back to school

It is not uncommon for senior citizens to enrol part time or even full time at a college or university to learn a new skill and take up a new job, says Kajang-based private college tutor Rashid Ali.

“There are many senior citizens where I teach who are taking up something new. Some of them even come back to do another course!”

Rashid admits that taking up a part-time diploma or degree can be a huge sacrifice for someone who is married.

“There are many private institutes that offer night-time or weekend courses to cater to this group of people. There are many genuine courses that one can do online.

“Having an extra qualification on your resume carries a lot of weight and if it means better job and salary prospects, it’s worth it,” says Rashid.

Become a volunteer

There are many organisations out there that are eager to accept volunteers, regardless of a person’s age, says Jacob Wong, a committee chairman for a Kepong-based non-profit organisation.

“Because we have to constantly keep our budgets down, we’re always looking for volunteers. Believe it or not, a lot of times we prefer to work with retirees because they are less demanding and are quite satisfied with the pocket money that we give them.

“Many of today’s youths are just interested in making money and are not interested with volunteering. That’s why we prefer to work with senior citizens,” he says.

Schools, libraries, religious and relief centres and charitable organisations are among some of the places that are always on the look out for volunteers, Wong adds.

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