A friend called me the other day and said, “I’m scared. My dad gave me an ultimatum to be out of his house by December 2011, and I don’t know where to go, and how I’m going to support myself.”
My friend is not in her twenties, but in her late fifties, and her husband passed away a few years ago. She does receive some rental income but it’s often sporadic and not enough to live off.
Her voice quivered and she started crying. She needed help, and instead of the, “Poor you” speech, I decided to think about her options. I put myself in her shoes and we brainstormed about what she could do. This made her focus on some of her own desires for her future.
“I wish I could take a year off and travel,” she said.
“How would you pay for it?” I asked, thinking about the article I had just read by Chris Guillebeau’s on How to use frequent flyer miles to go anywhere.
She didn’t answer. I know she’s frugal, and doesn’t expect to stay in luxury hotels so I suggested she could teach abroad.
“You know there’s a group called CELTA, which offers a teaching English abroad certificate. I believe it takes 3 months to train and then you work for a minimum of three months in a school. Apparently it’s cheaper to get certified abroad rather than in the U.S. You’ll get paid and that way you get to learn about the country, the food and the culture.”
Other options we discussed were to apply for the Peace Corps. This is a 27- month commitment, but they are seeking men and women over the age of fifty, and they do cover health care and living expenses. For more information about the Peace Corps: Life is Calling How Far Will You Go?
I’m a firm believer that there are always options in life. At first, we may not want to try them because they make us get out of our “comfort” zone, but every experience offers at least one positive nugget, if not more.
There are many women who fear being alone and stuck in middle-age with no money, no job and no companion. Especially after a divorce or a loss, they cannot see their future.
Here’s a list of options I came up with for my friend. Many of them can also be applied to couples who no longer have a job or a steady income. Some of them are temporary, or can turn into a career if you so choose.
- Sell your house, if you’re a home owner, and move to a cheaper part of the country.
- Downsize to a smaller house.
- Rent out rooms to (foreign) students to supplement your income.
- If you’re single you can rent a room in someone’s house. I know one woman who divorced and is now renting out several rooms in her house to help pay the mortgage.
Job Options (including accommodation)
- Apply for jobs as caretakers. The Caretaker Gazette, offers list of short and long-term stays in homes around the world where you either get paid to take care of properties when owners (often rich) are traveling around the world, or else live for free in someone’s home and watch their pets, water their plants, etc. while they’re gone. Some positions are long-term.
- Work for a storage company, and sleep in one of the units. I knew a married couple in their fifties who did this short term. (Takes guts!)
- Volunteer abroad. (Some pay for room and board.)
- Peace Corps with added benefits during and after. There are jobs offered on their website.
- Teach abroad. (CELTA certificate)
- Work on a cruise ship/lecture/teacher/personal trainer/gift shop.
- Take care of an elderly person full-time.
More Traditional Options
- Look for a full-time job. (Not easy to find in this economy.)
- Sell your house and move to a cheaper part of the country where cost of living is less
- Rent your house out and collect income while working a job that offers room and board.
- Have a part-time job and do some pet-sitting at people’s homes when they’re on vacation.
These were the options I discussed with my friend. Are there other options you can think of? Are you, or do you know anyone in this situation?