People always say that the beginnings are sweet, but that’s not always true. Sometimes, the mere idea of having to start over from scratch can be spine-chilling. Being close to retirement age definitely doesn’t make it any easier.
You might think that you’re out of prospects, but take my word on this: There’s still a way to figure out how to start over at 50 with no money.
The promise of a clean slate is always worth the effort, and it turns out to be an achievable dream. Let’s see how!
How to Start Over at 50 With No Money
Ditching your old life and starting fresh is often hard because finding employment and rebuilding your sense of self-worth is challenging. Yet, it’s getting more and more common, especially among seniors.
Let’s take a look at a step-by-step guide on rebooting your life even if you’re not well-off financially:
Take a Moment and Reflect
Feeling that you have to start over again at our age can break many people’s spirits. You might feel abandoned, lost, aimless, and maybe even a little angry. What you’re feeling is absolutely normal.
However, you can’t expect to get a successful plan going if you don’t understand these emotions and clear them out.
So, take a moment to ask yourself what is it that frustrates you the most in life. Try to get down to what you want to change and what you regret.
Get out a journal and write it down if it’ll help you focus your thoughts. Purely hashing these feelings out on paper will help you cleanse your mind. Plus, they’ll be helpful later on when you’re setting your plans for the future.
Get Rid of What’s Holding You Back
So, you’ve decided that you’re not happy with your current state and you want to start over, but how sure are you that you’re done with your old life?
I’m not saying cut ties with everything and everyone you know. Just evaluate what relations need to go and what you can take with you on your journey.
It’s also important to note that in many cases, what holds people back is their own perspective on aging. I get that it’s a bit cheesy to say that age is just a number, but the last thing you want is to limit your options just because you’re over 50.
A good way to make sure that you’re keeping an open perspective is to go by the “never knock it till you try it” approach.
For some people, selling their homes and moving to smaller apartments is a symbolic change. On the plus side, it can also give them an extra bit of cash.
Map Out Your Financial Situation
Before you go for any major actions, take a good hard look at your income and expenses. If you’re not particularly good with finances, find a free budget planning tool to help you out.
It’s important to do this step before you jump into a career shift or a business venture. You want to lay out all your prospects first to make an informed decision.
Odds are, you’ll find that you need to cut back on expenses, too. So, try to look into where your spending fails.
Yet, the best part about mapping out your finances is that it can help you make the most out of your available assets.
For instance, if you’re short on cash but have a decent home, you can always rent out a room for boarders. It’s a good source to get some money on the side, and who knows? You might end up enjoying the company!
Push Yourself Ahead in Your Job (or not)
If you’re already employed but not very satisfied with where you are right now, you might want to scale up the ladder a bit. This can range from looking for ways to get a promotion to a move to a different branch that works better for you.
A good way to evaluate if this is a possible route to take is to talk to your superiors. Ask if they can see you stepping up to a higher position. The feedback alone is going to be great for figuring out your next steps.
However, getting ahead of the competition will require some effort from your side. Taking on some night classes or enrolling in a course might be exactly what you’re missing.
If none of that works out for you, it might be time for a career shift.
Consider Shifting to Another Field
Quitting your job at 50 might sound like the wrong move, but it’s not a bad one if you know where you’re going next. It doesn’t even have to be in your field of study.
For women who’ve spent their lives as housewives, this can be tricky. After all, you’ve probably forgotten the bulk of your work-related skills, and you might not have the resume to impress potential employers.
However, you can always opt for a career that doesn’t require an academic certification. If you feel like you have a knack for a certain skill, you can look for ways to capitalize on it.
Here are some of the options that I find best for situations like this:
- Freelance writer
- Blog about your passion
- Interpreter in a second language that you’re fluent in
- Administrative assistant
- Tutor (the best part about it is that you can pick your field of specialty to teach!)
- Pet fosterer
- Landscaper (puts those green thumbs to good use!)
- Truck driver (pays well and cuts down on living costs)
Find Out If You’re Eligible for Benefits
Now that you have your job situation planned out, it doesn’t hurt to get some aid till you’re standing on your feet.
Start with the basics and check the employer benefits for financial planning resources, health insurance, or retirement plans. Of course, freelancing won’t cover you in this aspect.
While you’re not getting Social Security checks till you’re over 60, there are still a ton of governmental and organizational programs out there to help you.
Depending on where you live and your current situation, you might be eligible for:
- Better Thrift Saving Plan contributions
- Higher tax deductions
- Tuition discounts from places like the University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Senior non-credit classes
- UCLA’s Health 50 Plus program
Pursue a Passion
Some people are lucky enough to be able to make money on something they’re passionate about. Let me tell you that it’s a true pleasure!
Waking every day and knowing you’re enjoying your tasks is a delight, and it makes getting up in the morning a lot easier. However, if your luck didn’t strike with this, you can still use some pick-me-ups in your life.
Get back to the reflection journal and find some hobby, sport, or field you had pursued earlier. It could be creative writing, knitting, chess, or birdwatching. The choice is all yours here!
It’s all the more important to keep yourself fit and healthy after 50.
Build Meaningful Connections
While you’re pursuing your passion, you’ll probably get to meet other people with similar interests. I’m willing to bet that it’ll be easier than you think to meet people our age.
For one, you can join a walking group and encourage each other to stay active. Sure, it’ll start as a superficial relationship, but you’ll soon find that you’re building a new friends circle.
Some people will advise you to jump back into the dating pool if you’re separated, and that’s not a bad idea at all. After all, companionship is something we all desperately need.
However, I find that creating strong platonic relationships is even better for someone who’s starting over. It’ll ground your life and add some stability to the hectic world we live in.
Plus, that’s probably when you’ll feel like you regain control back over your life the most. Then, you can seek romantic relationships, but all in good time!
Don’t Hold Back from Asking for Help
By the time you finish all the steps above, you should be well ahead with your fresh start. This means that you’ll have the basics down with a source of income, a hobby you enjoy, and a couple of friends to keep you company.
At this point, if you’re still struggling with any of these basic aspects, don’t shy away from asking for help.
This will be particularly hard for people who have been independent for most of their lives. Yet, admitting that you need help is crucial to growing up.
Don’t fear rejection, either. In most cases, family and friends are more than willing to help. Whether it’s lending money, letting you stay over, or just being there for you, all you need to do is ask.
If you’re looking for professional help, look for specialized organizations. For instance, the NAMI HelpLine provides resources for mental health.
Get Some Savings Started
After getting the help you need, you can focus on getting back on track. Your main focus here should be preparing a rainy day fund.
I can’t stress enough how important a sense of financial security is. It doesn’t even have to be a fortune. Just put aside a small amount of money at the end of each month, and it’ll rack up over the years.
You might not be sure how you can balance your budget to leave room for savings, but that’s okay. There’re a couple of tools and strategies that can help you out.
Try the 30-day rule for a while and see if it makes things easier for you. This rule states that if something is not really a necessity, you should think about it for a month. If you still want to buy it by then, go for it.
Alternatively, you can use the 50-30-20 budgeting plan and put aside 20% of your income in a savings account. Of course, that might not be ideal for some people.
Get Involved in Your Community
Once that sense of financial security and stability settles in, you’ll be ready to expand your social circle even more. A great way to do this is by volunteering in an animal shelter.
Not only will this give you a sense of purpose and belonging, but it’s also a great way to keep an open perspective. You don’t want to keep your outlook on life limited.
This is particularly true if you deal with a lot of people from the younger generations. They might be able to nudge you in directions that you didn’t know existed, from making the most out of social media to money budgeting tips.
So, take a look at the activities going on around your neighborhood and sign up for one or two. It doesn’t even have to be charity work, as long as you’re getting to know your community better.
Hold On to the Can-Do Attitude
I’d be lying if I told you that your life will be free of trouble from now on. There will be tough times, but you’ll still enjoy yourself along the way.
You’ll have friends to share your ups and downs with. Additionally, you’ll get to grow as a person by doing the hobbies you’ve always wanted to pursue.
Most importantly, you’ll acquire the self-confidence that you can overcome life’s hardships. So, hold on to that mentality and let it drive you forward!
Figuring out how to start over at 50 with no money is a challenge, but it’s far from impossible. The way to go at it is with an organized plan, from hashing out the negative feelings to stabilizing your career and relationships.
You might end up changing your job, living space, entire lifestyle, and sense of community. That’s not a bad thing, though.
No matter how tough it may seem now, the change is going to be worth it in the end. You’ll even find that there are perks of growing old, as long as you’re living a life you’re happy with!
Here is more on our thoughts on life after 50.