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Middle Aged Robustness

Overcoming job loss in your 50's.

I heard from a long time friend and former work colleague that he was being laid off off (may not be the correct word, there is no spot for him after a merger). Over the years of writing retirement-oriented blog posts I have seen many comments from readers relating stories (firsthand or secondhand) about being 50-something and being out of a job. I am very optimistic for my friend's prospects but broadly speaking this is a reality that many people will have to confront as more jobs become obsolete due to innovation which could mean falling victim to automation or that a specific job evolves in such a way as to require a lot of new training to keep the same title.

One of the other firefighters where I volunteer (Walker Fire) is in his late 40's, is a tech worker of some sort and went back and got another college degree in his field (not sure if it was another BA or an MA) because he could see that his skill-set would need to be updated to remain marketable. Staying on the recent Taleb kick I have been on lately, my fellow firefighter has gone a long way to being antifragile in a field that is constantly changing and by adding this new degree he might be able to stay relevant until he is close to 60. If that turns out to be correct, if you've been able to put money away for retirement then at 60 you have a good chance of being close to having enough to retire if your hand is forced.

What do you do for a living? What is that job vulnerable to or what might it be vulnerable to? As an investment adviser I might be vulnerable to the robo industry although this is probably more of a threat, to the extent it even is a threat, to younger advisers. I've said many times that while I don't think I want to retire, I can't expect anyone to want to hire an 80 year old investment adviser. I'm not sure at what age that starts to come into play, but I am still aways from it.

In just a month and a half of posting here at TheMaven, I've already made several references to living below your means. This might be the easiest way to increase how robust (another Talebism) you can be in the face of a layoff at some age where you might perceived as being too old to hire, like 50 or 55 or 60.

I've mentioned the book Multiple Streams of Income by Robert G. Allen many times in the past and the influence it had on me in how my life has evolved. My writing is probably the best example of that having led to a long standing income stream from theStreet.com, my current long standing income stream the ETF company and hopefully my writing here at TheMaven becomes a long standing income stream. It is crucial to love what you're doing as it will make you better at what you do. I love studying markets, having interesting conversations about them and writing about them which can only make it better in terms of enjoyment and using The Secret (hippie nonsense that I believe in totally) will also lead to a more successful outcome. Hopefully this is a path to antifragility.

You know what you like to do, what are you good at, figure out how to turn it (them) into a side gig(s). You may not be able to completely replace your income in the face of primary-job adversity but if you're living below your means and can replace 1/4 or 1/3 of your income with a side gig, you're clearly in a position to better weather getting laid off at 55.

Anything can happen at anytime in any field, even if you're self employed. I am personally very motivated to not have something unexpected totally derail our lifestyle. Creating some level of robustness/self-sufficiency/financial independence may not be easy but it is far from impossible.