While I’m mostly a lifestyle and business writer, over the past few months, I’ve been delving into financial writing where one of the hottest topics is retirement. Whether you’re far away from retirement, planning for retirement, or easing into it, there’s often a discussion of saving properly or even partially to help cushion your future.

And of course, things get a bit more interesting  and more complicated  when you’re part of a Teamlancing™ collaboration rather than a more traditional work structure.

Delay retirement or start another career?

Late last fall I wrote an article in Millie magazine on what to consider if you might need to delay retirement. The premise was that, once the pandemic hit, many millennials who’d lived in extreme frugality in hopes of retiring young had to suddenly reconsider all of their options. It was more than a bit depressing to have to acknowledge that the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement had been extinguished.

In October 2020, personal finance app Stash and Lending Tree released the results of a survey discussing the lasting financial impact the pandemic had on Americans. Of the 5,000 people surveyed, 3 out of 10 reported rethinking their retirement plans.

But there was an interesting upside as well. In the article discussing the survey results, Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst for LendingTree, suggested that having a side hustle might be another option to avoid a money crunch.

“There are countless ways to bring in a little extra cash on the side, and doing so can make a huge difference when you’re trying to weather a crisis,” he said.

While some choose teamlancing as part of their career path intentionally, others find that it works best when easing out of their existing career into retirement. And the numbers in the current gig economy back up the idea that people are working longer, even if it’s not a full-time gig.

Introducing semi-retirement

In January, Investopedia ran an article called The Rise of the Semi-Retired Life. They explained that for the most part, semi-retirement was a transition from full-time work to fewer hours. For many, that also meant leaving a more demanding job for one with less stress or one that was more of a passion project.

Some people preferred this option since it allowed them to delay taking social security, while others prefer to remain at a position that provides benefits or some sort of an income. Still, other partial retirees have chosen to keep working so that they can better enjoy their leisure time.

Mark, a former emergency physician at a busy New York City hospital who chose not to reveal his full name for reasons of professional privacy, said that the stress of running an emergency room eroded his quality of life. He added that in solely caring for others, he’d stopped being able to care for himself.

Mark left his full-time job and now consults in telemedicine, which allows him to help emergency centers create immediate emergency response centers. Mark said he’s happiest knowing his current gig allows him to interact with an extended freelance team without having life or death stressors as part of his day.

Why a semi-retired life could work for you

  • You still love your career path, but not your job
  • You prefer to keep an income stream going, but don’t need to earn as much as you once did
  • You like the idea of working with a team, but not on a daily basis
  • You’d like to keep the benefits going

2 famous (and really creative!) semi-retired teamlancers

In case you’re still not sure if being a partially retired teamlancer is for you, let me remind you about one of the most famous semi-retired teamlancing couples in America: Barack and Michelle Obama.

After serving as the 44th president and first lady of the United States from 2009-2017, the Obamas were too young and vibrant to fully retire. They also had a lot more to say outside of the political arena.

In May 2018, the Obamas signed a mega-deal with Netflix to produce docuseries, documentaries, and features. At the time, Michelle said, “I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others.”

She also recently announced a new cooking show in partnership with Healthier America. It’s a great way of creating positive messages. In this way, the power couple has segued from the White House to the realm of influencers on a global scale. Interestingly enough, with mostly remote teams, in theory, the Obamas are also a hardworking pair of creative (and wildly successful) teamlancers.

Former world leaders aside, how does someone transition from a high-power job to one that’s potentially more creative, and in everyone else but the Obamas’ case, less financially rewarding? By choosing to highlight the talents you might not previously have been able to.

Figure out what you want to do in semi-retirement by trying out different jobs

Marina (who chose to keep her last name private because her employer does not know she’s job-hunting) has been secretly looking for a part-time job or gig for the past year.

Unbeknownst to her current employer, Marina has been trying on other jobs on the side, including social media manager, project manager, and even ghostwriter for a baby food company, though none of those teamlancing gigs were the right fit.

And while Marina loves working as part of a team, she hates the competitive nature of her current job. “That pressure seeps into everything, even my time off,” she said. “I keep trying to work with other teams to see if it’s the idea of working, if it’s the job in general, or maybe I’m just burnt out.”

When asked what bothers her most about her current job, Marina said she much prefers teamlancing since she can connect or remain distant depending on her mood.

Ultimately, she wishes she could work in a pet shop. Barring that, she hopes to work with animals in some way in the future.

“I feel like I’m cheating on my boss by trying out part-time jobs but I think that fits me better,” she said. “I’m ready to be happy at my job, and if that means I have to retire and make a fraction of what I used to earn, I may be ready for that as well.”

Segueing to a semi-retired lifestyle

  • Leave your past job behind you. If like Barack and Michelle Obama, you’re ready to completely switch careers, make sure you’ve left the old one behind. It might be hard for others to take you seriously if you still hang onto remnants of your previous career.
  • Try other jobs on for size. While I’m not recommending stepping out on your current employer, this is a really good time to check out other potential opportunities. And working only part-time means you don’t have to fully commit to anything until you’re sure.

An unexpected bonus

If you’re financially savvy, you might wonder about your ability to keep contributing to your IRA even past your retirement date. The SECURE (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement) Act allows individuals with earned income to keep contributing to their IRAs even when they’re past the age of 70.

If you’re unsure about how your finances will hold up once you partially retire, you might want to consult with a financial expert to help you figure out how to gracefully try something new without going broke.

Tackle debt first

The finance experts I’ve been interviewing lately all had the exact same advice when it came to trying out a new job in retirement — tackle your debt first. Since their advice was nearly identical, I’ll paraphrase.

Most of the experts said that, for anyone at any age, retirement can come as a shock. If you owe money before you retire and then earn less than you did previously, you’ll probably feel a greater pressure about the exact same amount of debt.

The best jobs for semi-retired teamlancers

While retirement once meant collecting a gold watch from your former employer and then being relegated to a park bench, today’s retirees are often younger than in generations past. They also seem open to a wider variety of opportunities.

If you’re looking for a bridge job to take you from working all the time to working some of the time while trying on retirement for size, try using your existing skills in a new way.

  • If you were an accountant, consider becoming a math tutor. You can set your own hours, use your mathematical skills and not worry about an audit. Bonus, with the popularity of Zoom, you can probably tutor online.
  • If you worked as an art director, consider trying  and merchandising  a new craft. I’m a little obsessed with Cricut Mug Press, the newest machine from the wildly popular crafting company that allows you to create pro-quality mugs in minutes at the touch of a button. Over the years, I’ve interviewed many entrepreneurs who use their ideas, talents, and various Cricut machines to create modest craft-based empires. It’s one of those quirky creative subcultures you didn’t realize existed, or at least I didn’t!
  • If you’re a great planner, consider setting up a business where you plan virtual events. With travel still so limited, there’s much room for growth in virtual gatherings. There are also many types of software to allow you to manage logistics. And if it feels too stressful to figure out a new system, bring on some teamlancers to handle tech or gifting while you plan the event or handle invitations.
  • Try consulting. One of the most interesting men I’ve met over the past few years is a retired cosmetic chemist. In his heyday, he invented formulations for some of the top skincare brands in the world. In his current incarnation, George teamlances for the brands he once considered competitors. He still has the thrill of creation without the added pressure of overseeing the full process.
  • Help companies create their own branded products. A former friend left her job in branding to create customized wines. Much like Wines that Rock, which creates everything from Hallmark Wines to wines inspired by The Grateful Dead, this allows a company to translate their brands to products (and revenue streams).

2 things to do when you’re semi-retired:

  1. Be part of the team. Unless someone hires you to be a project manager or part-time CEO, chances are good that in your semi-retired life you’ll be a team member. Learning to be a team player is important to ensure that people will enjoy working with you as much as you do with them.
  2. Evolve. You were great at your last job. Hurrah! But now you’re on to the next. Holding on to your memories or outdated ways of doing things will stand in the way of enjoying your new iteration.