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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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