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By Mark Miller | 03-20-2013 11:00 AM

Nuts and Bolts to Starting an Encore Career

Author Marci Alboher offers practical tips and strategies for building a meaningful and rewarding second career in the second half of life.

Mark Miller: I'm Morningstar csoolumnist, Mark Miller. Joining me today is Marci Alboher, who is the author of the Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life. Marci is the vice president of Encore.org, which is the non-profit group that's working to ignite a national movement around this idea of people moving into second, or encore careers.

Marci, welcome. 

Marci Alboher: Hi, Mark. Good to be here.

Miller: Good to have you. So, for those who might not know this idea or this concept, what is an encore career and who should be interested in one? 

Alboher: So, an encore career is late career work, usually after your primary career is winding down, that combines continued income with personal meaning and most importantly social impact. So something that's bigger than you, that has some kind of impact in the community or in the world.

Miller: So the income part of this is really timely, since we're seeing an endless stream of headlines about how poorly prepared for retirement most Americans are. 

Just this week, in fact, the latest Retirement Confidence Survey, which is done annually by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, shows that Americans’ confidence in their ability to retire continues to be at a historic low point. They've been doing the survey for 23 years, and a real stunning statistic is that about half of Americans have saved $25,000 or less for retirement. So the economic imperative is a really big part of the story, right?

Alboher: Yes. Some of this is making lemons out of lemonade, or virtue out of necessity, in that I think we all realize we're going to be working a lot longer than we ever thought, and boomers are coming right up against that. Their kids probably are looking at their parents and saying, well, retirement, that's going to be a very quaint notion by the time I get to that age.

But the boomers who are turning 60 at 10,000 a day, are really reckoning with the fact that they will probably be working quite a lot longer than they originally thought. But so many people are thinking, if I am going to be continuing to work, whether by choice or by necessity, how can I make sure that that work matters, both to me and in a way that's bigger than myself, while continuing to generate the income that I need at this life stage. 

Miller: So it's two things; it's the income, and in some ways a reboot or hitting the reset button on the kind of work you do. Is that the way you think about it?

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