December 07, 2012 at 08:30 AM EST
Alternative Retirement Income Streams
CNBC had a fun segment yesterday on the RV people recruited every year by Amazon to work in their distribution centers around the holidays. This particular segment was focused on Fernley, NV and one worker in particular named Jim Melvin who has a blog.


According to his blog he had been working four ten hour days but that was just ramped up to five 11 1/2 hour days. The hourly wage is $12 and the CNBC segment said there was "plenty of overtime." It looks like this is a ten week gig. It appears to be hard work, Jim said he put ten miles in one day (maybe he meant everyday?) so people who do it must be at least moderately fit. Jim seems to not love the work but if I heard correctly this is not his first season doing it and a lot of people want these jobs. As a nice little perk, Amazon pays the rent for the seasonal folks to park their RVs.

This is a tie in to past posts about seasonal work as a way to relieve some of the burden off of the portfolio during retirement--at least during the early years of retirement. Other things that have come up in this context include seasonal work for state and national parks and working for professional sports teams (or more likely the stadiums/arenas where they play). There are of course many more options for people who spend time seeking these options out. Our volunteer fire department has some paid shift work during the fire season which pays about $100 per shift.


It is possible that the question of cutting entitlement benefits for future retirees will soon be put on the table and if not soon then eventually. This will call more attention to various alternative ideas for income stream creation including seasonal work. If Jim averages 45 hours per week at $12 for ten weeks then he might be grossing $5400 but that does not include overtime. Generically speaking if this scenario means two months of not taking money from the portfolio then that is significant in terms of relieving some of the portfolio's burden.

For someone who lives a modest lifestyle this could be meaningful, especially if the social security benefit gets cut in half. If Jim, or someone in a similar situation, has a $600,000 portfolio and can live by the 4% rule then he might only need to take $20,000 out instead of $24,000 or will have some extra money for the one-off fund.


The point is not that everyone should follow Jim's path but that it is important for each of us to find our own paths in case we cannot have a traditional retirement--a traditional retirement seems less likely for more and more of us.

Neither of the first two RVs pictured belong to Jim. The third one is the RV we rented on the South Island of New Zealand last February. We were waiting to go through the Homer Tunnel to get to Milford Sound.
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