EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


April 29, 2008

Focus: Boomers staying busy, forming businesses


The money is there for many of them. Boomers have better access to business-starting capital, either from their own savings, severance packages or career connections. But Payne-Taylor said they need to be careful.

"There's a lot of focus on finances, risk management," Payne-Taylor said. "I think most people take more time planning for vacation than thinking about what's next in retirement. You definitely need a plan. It's not something to take lightly."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 38 percent of people 55 and older are working.

The reverse is happening in the high-level business sector.

These boomers are leaving high-salary jobs for more fulfilling human service careers in their 50s. And Jane Gagliardi, coordinator of Northern Essex Community College's human services program, is watching this reverse trend grow.

"They are making significant career changes from significantly higher paying jobs," Gagliardi said. "There's that, 'I always wanted to do this, but it didn't pay well,' and 'I was encouraged not to.' They've made their money. This is something they want to do with the last chunk of their career."

Bill O'Heaney, 52, of North Andover, is working as a counselor after graduating from NECC's drug and alcohol abuse certificate program in January. His past careers include chef, nonprofit manager and stay-at-home dad.

And O'Heaney said he plans to attend graduate school soon.

"There were a lot of people like me in my class: retired teachers, bankers, businessmen," he said. "I don't plan on retiring anytime soon. I have an 8-year-old."

For boomers seriously considering entrepreneurship or any career change, Payeur suggests sticking to something you love.

Payeur chose silk flowers because of his days working in a funeral home in the 1970s. He would watch hundreds of dollars worth of flowers being thrown out all the time. He considered it a costly waste and found silk flowers to be a cheaper, but just as lovely, alternative.

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