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How to Cut Costs and Increase Income for Senior Citizens

Updated on April 18, 2015
Retirement is a puzzle.
Retirement is a puzzle. | Source

Retirement in America in the 2010s

Since the Great Recession, additional numbers of Senior Citizens have become unemployed, homeless, and destitute. The societal problem of laying off seniors from work in favor of younger employees coming into the company is still active as well.

Many seniors wonder what to do in order to have enough money to last the longer number of years that they are living in the 21st century. They feel that they are laid off at age 50, but need to work until 70 or 80, and cannot find employment - even minimum wage employment.

The American Social Security Retirement with-full-benefits age raised for a portion of younger Baby Boomers to age 66 in the 2000s. Some of the youngest Boomers are being pushed to work until age 70. Compare this to England, where retirement age is 50 for women and 55 for men.

Fast Food is a Hard Life

"Jaws" - a fast food takeaway and the expenses that eat away both 1) workers' paychecks and 2) employer's profits.
"Jaws" - a fast food takeaway and the expenses that eat away both 1) workers' paychecks and 2) employer's profits. | Source

Minimum Wage Employment

WalMart is famous - or notorious - for hiring seniors to fill positions as door greeters. This is a minimum wage job that often supplies a seat of some sort to the seniors, who cannot stand for long hours every day. Though not the best use of the talent that seniors likely retain from their previous working years, it provides an income.

I see fewer senior people in fast food jobs these days, because such work is strenuous and requires constant standing and walking. With an increase in federal minimum wage to between $10 - 15 per hour, fast food jobs will likely decrease, anyway.

The fast food businesses includes many expenses unknown to the public, who think that the money accumulated through a large lunch rush at McDonald's all hits the bottom line as profit. In reality, very little of that cash is profit.

The cost of food, paper, and supplies for serving meals in fast food dining is high. At least 30+ other costs impact the monthly Profit and Loss Statement of many fast food units, resulting in only a few thousand dollars of profit per month. The increase in Minimum Wage to $15/hr. will wipe out the profits of some stores, and this is before even considering that the store must also pay the Employer's half of the Social Security contribution in each paycheck - the employee pays half and the company pays half and the company is the store where the crew member works.

A large number of fast food stores will therefore be "in the red", with no way out, so they will close. This helps end the problem of having too many fast food outlets competing for the same consumer dollars.

After cutting every expense possible, some Senior Citizens must find work at above-minimum wage earnings in order to survive.

Change the Structure of Fast Food Employment

Simplifying the structure of fast food restaurant operations might afford additional jobs to older as well as younger workers. For example, a long-time burger franchise in Meridian, Mississippi used a cafeteria line scheme, where customers could pick up their food and check out quickly.

Not many employees were needed, but the employees were friendly, efficient, and paid better than minimum wage. Not only could that store stay open more hours after hiring a few more workers as business built up, but it also added a swimming pool that hired life guards. It then added an expanded drive-thru operation, a few additional workers to man that, and a few other innovations. It became a very successful business for 20 years, until the franchise owners retired.

Changing the structure of minimum wage jobs can bring in more revenues to allow companies to pay higher wages, all while amassing an larger customer base. In fact, some coffee shops and burger places near interstate highways are drive-thru only, which cuts costs while increasing profits. Workers can earn higher wages at these places. In some of these operations, workers can sit at the drive-thru window, making it easier work for seniors, pregnant women, and the disabled.

Professors in hospitality and dining at The Ohio State University, before that program closed down, gave good advice about their industry. They reported that feast food restaurants overall cycle from simple to complex operations and back to the simplest.

An example used in the classroom was Ponderosa Steakhouses, when their company headquarters was located on the grounds of the Dayton International Airport in Troy, Ohio. Managers in classes heard that the steakhouse began with simple 6-foot long wooden tables and benches and a simple menu. The menu included three cuts of steak, a hamburger, baked potatoes, french fries, a standard side salad, and a couple of deserts. Beverages were limited to coffee, tea, and a few soft drinks.

Ponderosa, Bonanza, and other steakhouses began to "get fancy" by adding salad bars and highly extensive menus that required additional employees - at higher levels of skills - to work during every hour of operations. This began a spiral of increasing wages and steakhouse menu prices that resulted in some steakhouses closing.

Business expenses were not as high, varied, and numerous as those of McDonald's and other big-name burger places, but business declined in steakhouses, because of inconsistent food quality, steakhouse staff shortages, and increases in prices above the threshold that customers were willing to pay.

In my 17-county marketplace, most Ponderosas reverted to a simple cafeteria line and a food bar, but then closed down altogether. One remains in the far South Side of Columbus, Ohio; and, the cafeteria line works well there. Bonanza disappeared.

At what age do you expect to be able to retire?

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For Senior Citizens working in restaurants, one way to cut expenses is to enjoy the free meals offered to workers after their work shift. However, some restaurants charge workers at least half-price for these meals.

Fast food employment could become reasonable work for seniors if some changes are instituted.
Fast food employment could become reasonable work for seniors if some changes are instituted. | Source

Short-Term Travel Nursing, Extra Pay, Extra Perks.

If you are free to travel for three months at a time on a combination work-vacation type of arrangement and have experience in nursing, then Travel Nursing is a way to make money and cut expenses all art once. This is true for Nurses who are RNs, LPNs, Vocational Nurses, and Nurse Practitioners (NPs), as well as for Physical and Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, and Physicians. Altogether, these folks are called Travelers.

Travel expenses are just one category of item paid for travelers by placement agencies - to places like Hawaii and other exotic locations that need staff for 3 months to 12 months at a time. You can choose to accept only 3-month assignments. Your rent or mortgage in the new place is also paid for you. Wages are higher for travelers than for non-travelers, and additional perks are abundant. Some travelers are placed in their own cities, with all the perks paid anyway.

If you worked in healthcare or medicine in your previous careers, then consider begriming a Travel Nurse Professional. Agencies operate to place these professionals in most countries.

Senior citizens can still function as professionals, providing insights and experiences that younger people do not have.
Senior citizens can still function as professionals, providing insights and experiences that younger people do not have. | Source

Seniors - Do You Need to Work?

Employment Resources Especially for Senior Citizens

  • Employment Resources and Job Sites for Seniors 55+ in Texas.

    What do you do in Texas when you are in the 50+ or 55+ year-old bracket and out of work? Perhaps you've been laid off or widowed and never worked outside the home. The counties of Texas each have agencies that have received funding specifically to help seniors. In fact, Texas is one of the best US States to go for employment. Consider moving to Texas or another state that fits your needs.

  • Job Search Resources For Displaced Workers, 55+ In Oregon

    During May to June 2012, 36,000 out of 58,000 jobs listed for Oregon were located within a radius of 25 miles from. This is 62% of all available jobs in the state. Many of the jobs are in the Professions and therefore higher-paying, but help is available for finding other work as well.

  • Unlocking the Job Market and Services For San Francisco

    Where can Senior Citizens go in San Francisco if they need help with employment, housing or support services? This article lists and discusses some alternatives that can help seniors make it through their last years with some income.

© 2015 Patty Inglish MS


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      3 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Yes it is. Living in America, I often feel rich during economic decline, compared to folks in some other countries.

    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 

      3 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Indeed, something is better than nothing.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Babbyii = Thanks adding that important information. I am thankful that Seniors have Obamacare when they are not yet retired and eligible for Medicare. Thanks for your interest and nice comments!

    • Babbyii profile image

      Barb Johnson 

      4 years ago from Alaska's Kenai Peninsula

      Patty you did a stellar job in explaining the disheartening situation for seniors around the world. Here in Alaska I've seen rapid increases in their dependence on local food banks, Meals On Wheels and church programs in just short periods of time. Many of these folks are neighbors, long-time friends or family. I'm definitely paying attention.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Congratulations on all your hard work! It would be fun to be an actor once in a while.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 

      4 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I guess I am retired since I work for pay sporadically. Have yu heard seniors say, "I never worked so hard until I retired. "That's me. I write, I do public speaking, I even get some jobs as an actor (just an extra.) It's pin money, but I work really hard at it. I just had two poems published in an anthology. No payment. Just a credential. but I'm having fun. voted up ++

    • profile image

      Coalition on Aging 

      4 years ago

      This is important information. Many more Baby Boomers are homeless t the public is aware of, especially women, but the men are catching up. Some sort of living arrangements for single seniors would be a good investment right now for cities across the land.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @PegCole17 - I am sorry to hear about your health insurance costs being higher than the mortgage payment and about recruiters not giving your husband a chance. America is supposed to be a place where people get a chance at a good life.

      I read that in England that the average retirement income is only $350 in US dollars - if true, that is way not enough to live. Older people are having a difficult time surviving there and here. I don't know the solution.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      We are in that place right now, Patty, where my husband, who still has viable marketable skills, is being ignored by recruiters once they put two and two together and figure out his age. It is sad and disheartening to have to dig into the retirement fund to pay for our health insurance that is now a required purchase because of administration dictates. Sadly, the cost is even higher than our mortgage payment. I was amazed to read about the retirement age in England and yet we hear how their economy is also faltering due to the increasing number of non payers to the system.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I hope younger people take heed while they are still in the workforce and can still set aside money for retirement. I hear about people taking out loans against their 401ks or not contributing up to the maximum so that they can get their employer match and it's unfortunate. You never know what tomorrow will bring, and it'd be wonderful not to have to work until you die.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Good and helpful information. "The rush of retirees into the Caribbean region has prompted many countries to develop retirement programs to facilitate retires who want to move to the Caribbean." Just sharing and smiling.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Some interesting ideas.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @ThelmaC - I think many seniors on a fixed income must be fearful of homelessness. Every Social Security Retirement increase has been eaten by increased monthly Medicare premiums that come out of the check. To be old and homeless and without family must be a terror.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Writer Fox - I recall in the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, that the Judy Dench character found work at such a call center and became a training supervisor. Call centers might be a good solution for seniors, as you say. With downsizing, layoff of older workers, and outright company closings and bankruptcies of pension funds, many seniors have not been able to invest or to hang onto savings that pay very low interest; yet, some of our richer people belittle them and say they deserve to be poor. It's a bad thing.

    • ThelmaC profile image

      Thelma Raker Coffone 

      4 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA

      My friend Patty, as a senior living on a budget, I enjoyed this very much. I even ordered the book, It Pays to be a Senior. I will let you know how I like it. Great job on this article!

    • Writer Fox profile image

      Writer Fox 

      4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

      It can be difficult at any age to find a job sometimes, but I imagine it is particularly difficult for seniors. Also, many seniors may not have the stamina to work on their feet all day at a fast-food place. The rise of call centers has opened a lot of possibilities for employment and, as long as someone can sit in a chair and talk on the phone, age shouldn't be a factor. It's just a shame that Social Security benefits are often not enough to live on and that so many people have no other source of income.

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 

      4 years ago

      That's awesome - if we all do that we could start a beautiful trend! :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Kathleen Kerswig - Good ideas, Kathleen. I'll make a point of remembering to say hello to these folks and ask them how they are doing..

    • profile image

      Kathleen Kerswig 

      4 years ago

      Voted up this interesting hub. I don't know that I'll ever truly retire completely but you have gotten me to think about what I want to happen in the future regarding this issue. I do know this - when I see a WalMart employee who looks like they are of retirement age, I send them a silent blessings, knowing that they are doing all they can to survive. Thanks for sharing. Blessings!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks for that good information and much success to you, Karen Hellier!

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      I have known people who have become Foster grandparents and receive a stipend for helping in elementary schools for extra money. I also know people who work from home, selling on eBay or writing to earn extra money in their retirement years. I am currently doing the latter 2 and hope to continue with both throughout my golden years.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Thanks very much! We all could use a little good advice.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      4 years ago from south Florida

      Very good advice, Patty, for seniors as well as adults of any age who are looking for work. Voted Up!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      4 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Getting old in America is no fun for most people, but Quinn and Betty Moosebroker always make me smile. They keep going and keep finding wealth, it seems.

      Finding good long-term work and saving for retirement are just plain difficult, no matter how many good job openings are advertised! But one hopes for the best for people of all ages.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Voted Up and sent over to Twitter. Lots of useful and helpful information. So many face so much both young and old. Glad to know you are supplying useful information to help.


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