For some couples, retirement means well-deserved relaxation, travel and time to pursue hobbies. Others prefer to find a new job or open their own business. Whether it's for extra income or just to stay active, working together is a great way for baby boomers to reconnect as a couple.
The best two-person job is the one that draws on the skills of both partners. If one has an artistic eye and the other is a computer buff, a high-tech graphic design business might be right. If you are a great chef and your spouse a stellar organizer, a catering operation might be ideal. Look for flexible hours or a seasonal schedule in order to have some free time.
Working together is not for every retired couple. Being thrown together in a new career can strain a relationship. Take an honest appraisal of how you feel about it. That goes double if you're starting a business together. Can you balance your marriage with your work relationship? Can you keep personal feelings out of business decisions? Do you communicate well?
A last thing to keep in mind is your appetite for risk. Do you want to sink your nest egg into a new business? Look at the start-up cost of the career you're considering. You might want to choose a business you can get up and running relatively cheaply.
Read on to learn about some of the best jobs retired couples can enjoy together.
Running a Cleaning Business
Okay, it's not the most glamorous field going, but cleaning can be an ideal job for couples. You don't need a big investment or a lot of technical training to get started. You'll see a quick flow of revenues and profits. You can work part-time or full-time depending on the number of clients you book.
Your first step will be to decide on an area of specialization. Do you want to operate a maid service cleaning homes? A commercial cleaning operation for businesses? Or a company specializing in something like outdoor power washing, steaming carpets or washing windows?
A cleaning business is easy to operate from your home. You might start by doing the cleaning yourselves. Later you may want hire employees to do the dirty work while you take care of marketing and supervision.
You'll need to be fit enough to apply some elbow grease when needed. Absolute honesty and reliability are critical when you and your employees are given access to people's homes. An ability to schedule and keep organized is also important. And don't forget savvy pricing. You're not only competing against other businesses, but also against customers who can clean their own homes if they feel they can't afford you.
Operating a Bed & Breakfast
It's the ultimate home business: Your home actually becomes your job. Running a B&B can be ideal for retired couples. Between the two of you, most of the skills needed -- cooking, maintenance, interior design, marketing and a cordial way with guests -- are probably covered. This career offers many opportunities to meet interesting people. Usually a seasonal business, it can give you ample free time during slack months.
The hospitality business is not for everybody. You have to like getting up early in the morning. You need to be well organized and good at multitasking. You'll have to keep your home neat all the time and interact well with people. A keen business sense is a big plus.
Some new B&B operators use their current homes. The kids are out of the house and they've got the spare bedrooms; it's an easy solution if it works for you. Another option is to buy a large house in a good location and convert it. Or you can invest in an established B&B.
Be sure you clearly divide the duties and responsibilities between you and your partner. Otherwise, one person might end up doing too much, or duties will fall between the cracks. Putting it in writing doesn't hurt.
Lawn Care and Landscaping
Do you and your mate actually look forward to mowing the lawn or working in the garden? A lawn care and landscaping business is easy to start and offers great flexibility. In most locations, it's seasonal, so you can take the winter off or add a service like snow plowing. And what better way to keep fit?
You'll need a basic knowledge of plants and the stamina to do the work, even in hot weather. Long hours are common during the summer growing season.
All you need to get your business off the ground is a commercial mower, some basic tools and a truck or trailer. A couple should be able to handle 20 to 30 clients a week, with one person mowing and the other raking, edging and pruning.
If you offer landscaping services, you'll need to be knowledgeable about trees, shrubs and other plants. You'll also need a keen eye to make design decisions so the landscaping enhances the client's property. It helps if one partner has a green thumb and the other a strong back.
You can get your business off the ground simply by word-of-mouth, or by going door-to-door and passing out flyers. Keep in mind that this is a service business. Good relations with customers are often more crucial than price. Be reliable, neat and on time.
If one of you loves to cook, a catering business can be a good way to work together from home. It's a flexible enterprise that doesn't require a huge investment. Besides cooking, caterers need skills in marketing, planning and client relations. You also have to be able to deliver the food and set up the venues.
You should carefully think about the size and scope of your operation. You could stick to specialties like hors d'oeuvres or desserts, provide boxed picnic lunches, or even offer complete formal dinners. Whichever flavor of service you choose, it's best to start with small parties and events. Catering a large corporate affair or a major wedding is a job that requires experience and know-how.
All you'll need to start is a well-equipped kitchen that meets health department standards. Besides great recipes, you'll have to know about purchasing ingredients, planning menus and keeping food at the proper temperatures. Organization, time management and the ability to improvise are essential skills for success in catering.
Working on a Cruise Ship
Think about it: You get to travel to sunny places, spend time on wonderful beaches, explore exotic attractions and meet interesting people from all over the world. And you get paid for doing it. Plus, your living expenses are virtually zero, so you can save the bulk of your salary. If that sounds like the ideal job for you and your mate, working together on a cruise ship may be perfect for you.
The cruise ship business is growing and companies are hiring staff all the time. The best time to apply for open positions is from September to November as operators gear up for the winter season.
The wide variety of jobs available means that you can usually both find something that will make use of your talents. Cruise lines staff everything from bartenders and restaurant workers to retail clerks, child care help, entertainers, casino workers and mechanics.
Most of the jobs come with generous benefits including health care. You can usually disembark at ports to enjoy some free time on land. In most cases, couples can share a cabin, but accommodations are likely to be cramped. Internet and cell phone service (though not always reliable at sea) is available to keep in touch with those back home during the period of your contract, which may range from six to eight months.
Operating a Retail Business
There aren't many fields that offer as wide a range of opportunities as retail. If the two of you have dreamed of making money by buying and selling, retirement can be a good opportunity to give it a try. Open your own store, or try retailing without a brick-and-mortar presence, which can involve catalog sales, vending machines, or running a booth at flea markets or craft shows. Of course, the Internet offers many ways to connect with customers.
A small store or boutique can be a good choice for a retired couple. The skills needed -- merchandising, display, customer service, store maintenance -- give you both plenty of ways to contribute. Plus, if you wish to extend your hours without hiring employees, one of you can cover the store while the other enjoys free time or runs errands.
You'll want to sell products that fit with the interests of one or both partners. That might mean pottery or antiques, garden supplies, electronics or specialty food items. Keep in mind that retailing is a relatively risky business and that the marketplace can be fickle. You should be willing to live with risk, able to multitask well, and have the patience to endure slow periods.
You can jump into retailing by buying a store with an established clientele. Investing in a franchise usually means a parent company provides some of the know-how. If you're adventurous, you can launch your own store from scratch.
Teaching in a foreign country appeals to many retired couples. You get to travel with an added sense of purpose. You can offer support for each other abroad, dampening the shock of immersion in a foreign culture. Many schools prefer couples as teachers because they can share accommodations. Learning about a new culture is also a great way to reconnect as a couple.
If you're going to be teaching English in a country where it's not the native language, you may need a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. If either of you has a college degree in TEFL, you'll find more opportunities. If you speak the local language fluently and have qualifications to teach other subjects like computer science, music or engineering, it will make you even more versatile as a teaching couple.
Teaching opportunities are extremely diverse. You may find yourself teaching school children, college students or business professionals. You can expect to be paid well enough to live comfortably in the country where you work, but the level of pay may not translate into a generous salary back home -- something to think about if you have a mortgage and other expenses. Typical contracts are for the school year; many teachers then move on to other opportunities.
Planning Parties and Events
There's money to be made in good times. Party and event planning makes a highly adaptable business for retired couples. Great organization skills, a love of parties and a sparkling personality are the primary requirements. You should organize a few serious bashes before you plunge in to this field. Offering to put together theme parties for family members or friends is a good way to test the waters.
Most party planners pick a specialty area. Maybe its children's parties -- always popular. Or you could focus on birthdays, family reunions, corporate meetings, fund raisers or awards events.
You'll need to pick up a lot of knowledge quickly to make your business thrive. You'll need to foster relationships with vendors of food, beverages, flowers and decorations. You'll need to develop a go-to roster of entertainers -- musicians, clowns, deejays or Elvis impersonators. You'll have to come up with inventive themes beyond the standard Hawaiian luau or Texas barbecue. Unless you stick to parties in clients' homes, you'll also need to track down a list of suitable venues.
Organizing parties is not all fun and games. The hours may be demanding and can often entail weekend work. The job can get hectic when glitches develop. At least one partner needs above-average communication skills in order to work smoothly with your clients.
Driving a Truck as a Team
Now that you're both retired, do you want to spend more time with your spouse? A lot more time? Think about becoming an over-the-road (OTR) truck driving team. You'll be spending all day together in the cab of a tractor-trailer, you'll get to see the country (though with an emphasis on the interstates) and you can make a good income. You'll be able to put in as many as 5,000 miles a week -- and you get paid by the mile.
Companies often prefer couples as driving teams, because they're usually willing to stay on the road longer -- no need to go home to visit a spouse. Alternatively, you can invest in your own rig and become owner-operators. In either case, you'll each need to hold a commercial driver's license, which may mean going through a training course. And you'll have to tolerate some physical activity, such as climbing in and out of the cab, as well as prolonged periods of sitting.
Before you're seduced by the lure of the open road, think carefully about the drawbacks. Do you really want to share cramped quarters for days on end and be away from friends and family for extended periods of time? Deadlines and unexpected events, not to mention bumper-to-bumper traffic, can ramp up the stress level.
Traditionally, serving as caretakers for a property has been a business for couples. In many ways, it makes for an ideal retirement job. Forget about the nightmare of Stephen King's "The Shining." Instead of a snowbound resort, you're more likely to be living rent-free on a country estate, on a private island, or at a beach house in the off season. The work usually isn't overly demanding and gives you plenty of free time. The pay can be decent as well.
Caretaking gives you plenty of time to enjoy each other's company. And clients often look for mature people, so a retired couple may have an inside track.
If one or both of you is a jack-of-all-trades, it's a big help. Caretaking calls for a little building maintenance, some gardening and lawn care, and a lot of common sense problem solving. You might also be called on for pet or livestock care.
Before you agree to a position, you should set down in writing exactly what is and is not expected of you. Without a clear list of duties and responsibilities, there's always a danger of "mission creep," with your employer asking you to do more and more work beyond your initial job description.
HowStuffWorks Now looks at a new twist in the sharing economy: renting your home for office space.
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