Sunday, July 26, 2015


For many of us retirees, tightening our belts has become part and parcel of daily living. We think twice before purchasing non-essential items. Even when shopping for necessities, we have taken to comparing prices first before making a decision. Getting value for money is our shopping credo now.

It's not that we can't afford to spend, but with the implementation of GST, the weakening ringgit, and the escalating rise in the cost of living, we have to keep a careful eye on our spending. Unless we have shares that pay decent dividends, or own a small business that generates some income, we are depleting our savings as we spend. How long will our retirement funds last? Will our nest egg be sufficient to see us through the next 20 years? All it takes is just one major health crisis or a financial setback to wipe out a big chunk of our savings.

Falling back on our children for financial support is no longer an option. They have their own family and financial commitments to take care of. Consider ourselves fortunate if they don't seek support from us!

Award-winning occupational therapist Lim Hwee Er is founder of Goshen Consultancy Services

So this leaves us with no choice but to work for as long as we are able, or invest wisely to generate some extra income for rainy days and old age.

I'll leave the financial experts to advise on investments. With age working against us in the employment market, the most feasible option is probably to start a small home-based business. Below are some suggestions that require minimal start-up capital, and virtually no overheads to worry about if you operate from your home. What you must have are determination, resilience and commitment to deliver your best.

If you live in a residential neighbourhood e.g. Taman Megah, or in a condo complex e.g. Mont Kiara, you already have a pool of potential customers for the following services:

Home Tutoring and Classes
  • Home tuition - especially recommended for retired teachers. So convenient for parents looking for an experienced home tutor to coach their children in English/Bahasa, Maths and Music. There is also demand to teach Conversational English to expat wives and other adults who have a desire to improve their English.
  • Cooking classes - easy enough to conduct cooking or baking classes in your home. Or rent a multi-purpose function room in your condo block to conduct your classes.
  • Computer classes - you will be surprised how many seniors are eager to learn how to use the internet and social media. You can conduct classes for interested seniors. They bring their own laptops or tablets. 
Consider teaching seniors how to use social media either on a personal tutor basis or in a class.

Personalized services
Home Physiotherapy (Image:
  • Physiotherapy, massage, pedicure, manicure, facials, etc. Make use of your experience in these fields. If you don't have the experience but have an interest to learn, go get the training required.
  • One of my friends conducts swim classes for seniors in their condo pool. They can choose to have one-to-one instruction, or in a group of three. 
  • Confinement ladies are earning very good money, often commanding RM8000 and above for their services for just one month of post-delivery cooking and caring for the newborn baby. In Singapore, the going rate can be as high as SGD3000!
Confinement ladies can make good money especially in Singapore (Image from The Ant Daily)

Small home-based businesses

Just as there ia a huge demand for services targeting parents with little children e.g. home child-minding, daycare centres, tuition centres, there is an even greater and more urgent demand to provide similar services for the elderly.

Start small within your condo or neighbourhood community. If you satisfy your customers, they will promote your services by word of mouth. Maintain quality control and prompt service, and you can be assured of a viable business that will contribute towards your nest egg. I know of friends who are doing splendidly operating from their home kitchen, taking orders for cakes, jams and roasted nuts.

With global ageing comes a wide and varied range of services that cater to the needs of the elderly. Opportunities are excellent for those interested in targeting this niche market:
  • Daycare centres for the elderly, There is a HUGE demand for such a service. Statistics are not available, but the number of elderly parents left alone at home is on the rise. Adult children with elderly parents would welcome such centres. Start small by taking in not more than five elderly who required minimal assistance with feeding and mobility.
  • Meal delivery to the elderly. The elderly have special dietary needs. Meal delivery would appeal to them, especially to those who find it a hassle to cook.
  • Transport-on-call. Provides an essential service for the elderly living alone who need to see the doctor or do grocery shopping. The service comes with extras, like keeping the elderly company at the hospital, or helping with the groceries.
Meal delivery at your door-step for senior citizens (Image: Internet)

If you are seeking paper qualifications or skills training for any of the above, check out what courses are offered at baking schools, IT centres, Centres for Continuing Education at local universities. MCA Wanita as well as Women's Institute of Malaysia (WIM) regularly conduct courses to equip women with skills to enable them to earn an income.

There are also free online courses that you can sign up for. All it takes is just a Google search to find out what's available, where, and when.

A baking class in session at MCA Wanita's training course for confinement nannies (Image from MCA website)

As long as you have the drive and the determination to succeed, you are never too old for an encore career, or be your own boss. Not only does working keep you mentally, physically and socially active, it helps to supplement your retirement funds. The key is to find a vocation or a business that drives you. Then it is no longer work but a passion.

1 comment:

LC Teh said...

While we're on this subject, here's an account from a personal experience to share with our readers. Hope nobody falls into the same hole I did. Click on link below: