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Turn your passion into a second career

Retirement these days doesn't necessarily mean lazy days in a fishing boat. For many people, retirement offers an opportunity to pursue a new career.

Debbie Burch and Marty Morgan felt that way. Their efforts to build rewarding encores might inspire you to do the same.

Debbie: From IT to college counseling

Debbie, 50, is vice president of information technology at a bank in Charlotte, NC — and she's already lining up her second act. Four years ago, she helped her daughter, now a college sophomore, work through a thorny admission process.

She found she loved it — and the experience got her thinking about starting a second career as a college counselor after she retires from the bank. "I want to help students reflect on who they are and what they want," she says.

Debbie's action plan:

  • In 2009, Debbie enrolled in a college counseling certificate program; she's currently taking her final course and will receive her certification in the coming year.
  • She already works with a few students pro bono to develop a track record.
  • Debbie has made the maximum contribution to her employer-sponsored retirement plan almost her entire career.

She will work with a financial professional to develop a plan for continuing to save for her retirement, such as an individual retirement account (IRA). Debbie figures that between her nest egg and her future salary, she can retire from the bank within five years.

Marty: Jingle all the way

Marty, 55, started his retirement—and his new career—earlier than expected. A former creative advertising executive and national marketing director, Marty, like many residents of his city of Nashville, had a lifelong dream to become a songwriter. (It didn't hurt that his father George and sister Lorrie are renowned country singers.)

Marty's action plan:

  • When he was laid off in 2009, Marty decided to turn his dream into a business writing jingles and doing voice-overs.
  • He rolled over employer-sponsored retirement plan savings into an IRA.
  • He slashed his living expenses while getting his business up and running.

Today his business is gaining momentum, with recent jingle sales, voice-over projects and a deal in the works to record a song for an NFL franchise. Marty feels more satisfied than ever. "I needed the creative rush in my work," he says. "Now each day I do what I love." And the IRA he established provides a way to continue to save for retirement on a tax-deferred basis.

Fast Fact
In 2010, more than 40 percent of workers ages 55 and older expected to put off retirement until at least the age of 66, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) 2000-2010 Retirement Confidence Surveys.

Debbie and Marty found opportunities to build second careers that they believe will carry them into their retirements. And both developed plans that would enable them to transition into their new situations. Plans like theirs are key to a successful second act.

Get help from a financial professional

» Find out how a financial professional or advisor can help fine-tune your plan for retirement.


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