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Ask Dave

Starting Over at 62

A.J. is starting over at 62 years old. His home is in foreclosure, he's unemployed, and he's living on Social Security. Where does he start in order to rebound?

QUESTION: A.J. in Los Angeles is starting over at 62 years old. His home is in foreclosure, he’s unemployed, and he’s living on Social Security. Where does he start in order to rebound?

ANSWER: It has everything to do with finding an income opportunity or two or three, because obviously we’ve got to pile up some cash. We’ve got to get ready for a retirement. Everyone does. You’ve just got a fairly short fuse on this. As you’ve discovered, you certainly don’t want to live on Social Security.

The weird thing is that people in their early 60s and in their 50s, when they hit this kind of a thing, it’s not an unusual story for them to go earn more than they’ve ever earned in their lives because your life right now is a culmination of all the mistakes and the wisdom and the things you’ve gained over your life. You’re so much smarter than you were when you were 22. That life experiences leads you into the mastery of some different skills, so that if you can find a way to put those particular skills and engage them in the marketplace, you could make the most money you’ve ever made in your life. Colonel Sanders never fried any chicken until he was 67 years old. Kentucky Fried Chicken was started by a 67-year-old, and he did pretty good.

The truth is that the statistics tell us that your 50s is your highest income-earning decade for most people because you learn and grow and you master your skill, and you’re pretty close to your 50s. I don’t know exactly what that is. I’m not a career coach in your situation, but I think you rebuilding your finances starts with, and is tremendously affected by, you creating income opportunities, whether that’s a career track, a small-business idea—whatever it is. But you putting something together like that, that lays things out, shows you what to do and where to go next, and you put it in gear.

This isn’t you working at Walmart being a greeter at 62. I’m talking about a high end—something where you get out there and create something, you move something around to the point you’re making six figures—that kind of thing. That’s the way I would be thinking about it if I were in your shoes. You start doing that, you can turn this around pretty quick because again, you’ve learned everything not to do. Sometimes, those are the most expensive lessons of all.

I’m going to send you a copy of my friend Dan Miller’s book. He’s got a book out called 48 Days to the Work You Love, and I think that book is perfect for where you are right now in your life. I want you to read through that.