I’m 61, left my job due to medical reasons, and made $150,000 from the sale of my home. I’d like to work for at least another 5 years. Can I still retire? If so, how?


Dear Sarah,

I recently sold my house and had to leave my job due to a medical issue that was easily resolved, and I am now fine. I have approximately $150,000 in my checking account from the sale of my house. I am unsure what to do with this and have considered contacting a financial adviser. I will be turning 62 in May.

I am renting a condo for $1,100 per month. Utilities are very affordable. I have COBRA health coverage available until the end of November 2023. It is approximately $700 per month.  

I have very strong technical skills as I have worked as a business analyst in government and higher education for over 20 years. I am just really unsure how to proceed. I believe I would like to work until 65 or 67, for something to do and to receive health insurance, as I have a number of health concerns.

I have Social Security and a couple of pensions, as well as approximately $180,000 in a 403(b) account. Do you have any suggestions on how best for me to proceed based on the information that I have provided? I am a single female and have one child who is a physician, married to a physician, with no grandchildren.  

Thank you so very much for your time and consideration.

Unsure of What to Do Now

Dear Unsure,

You’ve clearly been through an upheaval in your life — physically, financially, and emotionally. I commend you for getting back on your feet and, rather than ruminating over things that are out of your control, taking a lay of the land, and figuring out what’s next. That’s the kind of resilience that most people strive for, but often don’t achieve. We are in a tight labor market, and your experience is worth its weight in gold. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I take my hat off to you.

I don’t know the specific details of your medical and financial situation, but you now have $150,000 in the bank and $180,000 in a retirement account, relatively low expenses and you are still able to work, so you still have a lot going in your favor. You also have the added advantage of being highly skilled in a hot job market, so can look into jobs that allow you to scale up or down — and likely work remotely too. You need a team: a fee-only financial planner and/or your daughter to forecast your living costs.

Janet Lee Krochman, president of Janet Lee Krochman, A Professional Corporation in Costa Mesa, Calif., supports the idea of a part-time retirement. “I have heard many a local story about someone in their 60s, headed toward ‘traditional retirement’ when the concept of part-time work ‘suddenly becomes available’ when the employer realizes the knowledge base that is about to leave out the front door,” she says. “Almost all of these arrangements are a win-win.”

“Some would/could argue that without retirement, the next generation does not get to move up,” she adds. “With ‘part-time retirement,’ positions still open up, the employee becomes essentially what the postretirement consultant role was 20 years ago. The employee continues to provide necessary knowledge for a few more years (or more), they keep certain benefits, which they enjoy and it goes a long way to ease the employee into what will eventually be full-time retirement.”

Chris Cooper, a California licensed professional fiduciary, agrees that part-time work is a secure way to approach the next phase of your life. He says you may have a few obstacles to navigate in terms of your health insurance. Your health insurance with COBRA will run out before you are Medicare eligible, he says. (You can read more on that here.) “Hopefully, you live in a state with a strong Marketplace for the Affordable Care Act,” he adds. “If not, you will have less choice in insurers.”

This is a good time for experienced workers. Almost 57 million people left jobs — many more than once — in the 14-month period from January 2021 to February 2022. And nearly 89 million people were hired in the past 14 months, government data show, reflecting a record number of job openings and a dire need for labor. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a surge in people hiring remotely and working remotely, and that opens more opportunities for people in smaller towns and cities.

Let us know how you get on. And good luck with this next chapter.

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