I am hesitant to write you for help because I’m no longer working and have no career to speak of. I am 68 years old, retired for the past 8 years, and a widow with three adult children, all of whom are married and have families of their own. I had worked for many years in a government corporation as administrative assistant and later as secretary to a department head. My problem is that I’m in financial distress and have no more source of income. I don’t have any savings at all. I have used up my and my late husband’s entire retirement funds because, prior to his death, he had required long period of hospitalization, expensive medical procedures and medical specialists’ services.
I don’t know how long I still have to live and am so anxious from day to day, knowing that I’m just waiting for any of my children to take pity on me, remember me, and give me money for my monthly living expenses. Sad to say, not one of them, including my youngest son who is earning much, takes care of me on a monthly regular basis which I can depend on.
I had to sell my and my husband’s house three years ago so that my youngest son could take a 2-year full-time master’s course which helped him become successful in his career. The rest of the proceeds I divided among my children (including my youngest son), with me taking only ¼ of the proceeds from the sale of the property. This is a big mistake I made but it is too late now to cry over spilt milk. Now I live with a daughter, and her family, sharing a room with a teen-aged granddaughter who wants the room only for herself.
Do I have a chance to earn so I don’t have to be dependent and feel so helpless? How can I go about it? Please help me.
Mrs. Unhappy Retiree
You feel despondent about your financial dependence on your adult children who enjoyed equal share of the sale of your and your husband’s property, rather than just ¼ of your late husband’s share. You feel hurt that they are not sensitive to your needs and don’t show their compassion for you.
I suggest that you don’t dwell on your feelings of self-pity and helplessness because doing so will only make you feel miserable. You CAN and you DO have the capability to do something to earn money for your needs so that you don’t have to depend on your children.
The first thing you have to do is to have a can-do attitude, that you can have a source of income, and that God will bless your efforts to earn a living. Repeat this positive self-affirmation to yourself everyday: “I can have a source of income and God will bless my efforts to earn a living.” Remove from your mind thought of being old, of not being able to do things, of being weak, of people not being able to appreciate what you can do for them. Instead read and know about elderly people who continued to be productive in their 70s, 80s, etc. Fill your mind with positive thoughts of “I can”, “I will”, “They will like what I have to offer”, etc. When you are about to fall into your self-pity syndrome, repeat these positive affirmations.
The second thing to do is to list down all the job positions you have had and your membership in civic, religious and other volunteer organizations. For every position, list down what you did (the tasks required of the job) and then list down all the skills you used to accomplish these tasks.
As secretary, for example, what were your major tasks and what skills did you use? Examples of these are: composing routine letters, writing minutes of meeting, printing and preparing powerpoint presentation, photocopying, managing incoming and outgoing calls, arranging meetings, etc.
List down also all your hobbies such as baking pastries and pies, growing ornamental plants, cross stitching, decorating interiors of homes, sewing, etc.
Which skills do you enjoy using most? The skills related to your interests can be the source(s) of livelihood for you. Advertise your skills and/or your products thru your community and parish newsletters. Ask permission to post your ad in bulletin boards in your barangay, village or parish halls. There may be people in your community who can hire you to do some printing jobs, prepare powerpoint presentations, etc.
You did not mention if you have a computer or have access to one. Offering your computer service requires you to have your own computer. If you have no money to buy one, ask your children, especially your youngest son, to give you a computer so you can earn and be self-sufficient. Prepare a script that you can deliver to your son and his wife. Example: “I want to have a good computer so I can offer my skills to people who may need printing services and pay for them. In this way, I can be self-sufficient and not have to wait for any of my children, like you, to provide for my needs. I have already told you that I have no savings. Since I had spent on you more than I did on your sisters, I hope you will give me this computer.” What do you think of this message? How do you feel about it? You are honest in expressing to them what you need rather than wish they can second-guess you. Your other option is to get a loan from them or from others. The importance of writing a script is that this will give you time to choose the words you will say, and deliver your message with self-confidence.
Additional sources of income can come from cooked or baked products you can make, or crafts you can produce. If you are very good in baking some pastries like chocolate chip cookies, ensaymada, pastilles, tarts, etc. or pies, like apple or peach cream pies, etc. or preparing a variety of pasta, you can advertise your products, price them and have your prospective customers call you for orders. The usual practice for food order is an advance of 50% upon ordering, with the 50% balance to be paid upon delivery.
Spend time developing your network of customers by being members of community or parish organizations. Tell your fellow members about your products and your services. Give them free small sized samples of your baked products or pastas you churn out, and ask them to order from you and to refer your products to their friends and neighbors. Call them up and tell them about your products. The important thing is for you to sell products that you can do well and which have fast turn-over.
Can you write? What is your writing style? How is your grammar? You can write for magazines and newspapers. You can offer to take down and write minutes of meetings of your village association. Be aware of all your skills and abilities. Listing these down will make you feel good about yourself and grateful to God for giving you these gifts.
Just as important, hone or enhance your skills so that you can improve your services and your products by enrolling in short courses. I suggest you look up short courses offered by Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC) at telephone #s(02) 637-4018 ; (02) 637-4108. Also, take a course on setting up and managing a micro-mini business from your home.
By doing all these, you will have no time for self-pity, to feel anxious and miserable. Your self-confidence and inner peace will add many more years to your life, and more life to these years.
God bless you.