Feature

What the experts say

Working in retirement; Broaching sensitive topics; College cost myths

Working in retirementIt’s tough out there for retirees, said Rodney Brooks in USA Today. Between 60 and 80 percent of pre-retirees say they expect to work in their golden years, but “only a small percentage of people who plan to work in retirement are actually able to do it.” What makes finding work in your twilight years so hard? Health issues and age discrimination. Job-seeking retirees have to play to their strengths and think ahead. “If possible, stay in your current job, even if it’s in a reduced capacity.” Consider whether you can turn any skills or hobbies into a business. And prepare to take a pay cut—older workers who make big career changes typically face major reductions in earnings.

Broaching sensitive topicsIf you’re thinking about asking your boss for a raise or raising another touchy topic, “stick to the facts,” said Anne Fisher in Fortune.com. Research salary data to determine your market rate, and be ready to give solid reasons for why you deserve more. If your latest performance review was lackluster, ask for more feedback. “Don’t stew in silence,” because a less-than-stellar job review “could unfairly block you from bigger career opportunities down the road.” If you disagree with your boss’s strategy or have a better idea, speak up—but only “if your corporate culture encourages debate and consensus.” Other-wise, it’s better to keep your mouth shut. In most cases, the old adage holds: “It’s not so much what you say as how you say it.”

College cost mythsLet’s dispel a few misconceptions about college costs, said Penelope Wang in Money. You may think saving for college will hurt your chances of getting financial aid, but “under the federal financial aid formula, what matters most is your income.” Private schools may give more weight to assets, but odds are your aid “would be in the form of loans, not grants, so you’re still better off saving.” You should also ignore “the eye--popping sticker prices at private schools.” Private colleges often discount tuition by awarding merit aid to good students. And don’t assume a liberal arts degree will be worthless. While business and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors tend to earn higher salaries, that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. The top quarter of history majors have a higher -median lifetime salary than that of all those who studied computer programming.

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