Sunday, January 29, 2023

Help Senior Family Caregivers by Starting a Support Business

Have you been the caregiver for a disabled or elderly member of your family?  Were there times when you wished there was someone who could provide you with assistance, or even give you guidance in finding the right type of care for your loved one, or counseling to help you deal with the pressure and stress you are going through? If this is something you have gone through in your personal life, then you may want to use your experience to help others.

Over the years you spent as a caregiver, you have probably learned a lot of things you wish you had known from the beginning. You almost certainly have knowledge which would be invaluable to other family caregivers in your community.  However, how can you share your experience and knowledge with others? Is there a way you can provide a real service, and earn an income while helping others, too?  

Recently,  Claire Wentz, the owner of, reached out and asked me if I thought the readers of this blog would be interested in learning how to start a Caregiver Support Business in their community.  If you think this is something you might like to do, you will that find this month's guest post on launching a Senior Family Caregiver Support Business is very helpful.  Her post is below:

How to Launch a Senior Family Caregiver Support Business

The role of a senior family caregiver is not an easy one. Family caregivers often deal with high levels of stress, financial concerns, time management issues, sleep deprivation, social isolation, and an array of difficult emotions. Providing support services to these selfless individuals is a great business model, and can provide them with greatly needed assistance. You will enjoy an undeniable sense of fulfillment by pursuing an entrepreneurial path which has a real impact on people who are struggling. Check out the following tips to get started!

Consider Which Services You’ll Offer

There are a number of different services you could offer to family caregivers. Counseling, transportation, caregiving assistance (also called respite care), and food delivery are just a few of the services you could offer. If you have experience with family caregiving yourself, think about your experiences and what kind of support services you would have liked to use, had they existed.

You could also start a business helping families evaluate long-term care options. Moving a senior loved one into long-term care is very mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing. Consider building a business designed to guide family members through the decision-making process so they can feel confident that their loved ones will receive high-quality care.

Write a Business Plan

When starting a new company, it is crucial to consider all aspects of your business in order to create a detailed and comprehensive roadmap for success. Your business plan should include an introduction that outlines the purpose and goals of your company, as well as information on your target market, products or services, marketing strategy, and financial projections. Additionally, you should think about factors such as your competition, legal considerations, and growth potential.

Find Funding

When it comes to starting a new business, one of the major challenges is finding the funding you need to get off the ground. While many entrepreneurs rely on bank loans or venture capital, securing this type of financial support is not always possible, especially if your credit report indicates a low credit score. Fortunately, there are other options for funding your new business. One option is to look into government grants and loans, which often come with fewer restrictions than traditional sources of funding. Additionally, many websites now offer crowdfunded financing platforms which allow individuals to band together and invest in promising new companies.

Create an Employee Training Plan

If you’re going to hire employees for your business, this is a good time to establish a training plan. You’ll want to teach your employees all of the knowledge and skills they need to do their jobs successfully. Be sure to schedule regular training sessions to help them maintain essential skills. Beyond basic workplace training, be sure to train your employees on important topics like harassment prevention, workplace violence, and diversity. This training can prevent your staff from falling victim to unconscious bias and micro-aggressions, both of which are unfortunately present in the senior care industry.

Review Your License and Permit Requirements

Most small businesses will need certain licenses and permits. These vary depending on your state, your type of business, and the kinds of activities in which you are involved. The U.S. Small Business Administration explains that states often regulate business activities, including healthcare, transportation, and retail. You will have to research your specific state, county, and city regulations to learn more.

Establish Your Online Presence

Creating an online presence is essential for finding clients. Start by building a website and creating social media accounts where you can share information about your business with potential clients. You could even use your website to offer virtual support services! Get started with a simple website building tool like Wix or Squarespace so you can get a website up and running quickly without hiring a developer.

When it comes to creating social media accounts for your business, follow the 80-20 rule. Dedicate 80% of your social media content towards informing, engaging, or entertaining your audience, and use the other 20% to promote your business services.

Creating infographics is a great way to give useful information to your clients or followers, while also increasing brand recognition. Not only do infographics share important information quickly and easily, but they can also be eye-catching and creative depending on the design chosen. To create your infographic, use online templates that you can adapt to include your own copy, images, and icons.

Build a Community Around Your Business

If you really want your business to thrive, consider building an engaging community around your brand. Use your website to offer free resources and support services. Link to complementary businesses like counselors or respite care providers. Chat with your followers on social media and listen to their suggestions. You could even create a community forum on your website where family caregivers can interact and share their thoughts. HubSpot suggests writing some general discussion topics to get the ball rolling on your community forum.

Launching a caregiver support business is bound to be fulfilling. Whether you decide to start a business offering respite care or choose to help families transition their loved ones into long-term care, you won’t regret working in the senior caregiving industry.

by Claire Wentz

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Order gifts at

If you want to tell a caregiver how much you appreciate what they are doing, you can find encouraging gifts for seniors and their caregivers on  It is a thoughtful way to show them that you understand what they are going through.  This "Just for Today" coffee mug is one such gift, although you can also find uplifting jewelry (like a bracelet that says "You are Enough"), tote bags and more.  Give a caregiver something to lift their spirits.

If you are interested in learning more about saving money, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Disclosure: This blog may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase from an Amazon ad, or other type of ad, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

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Sunday, January 15, 2023

Teachers, Public Employees, the WEP - GPO and Your Retirement

Many working Americans are unaware of how the decisions they make during their career could affect the amount of money they might receive when they retire.  After retirement, they often wish they had been given more information before they changed their careers.  Most of us are completely unaware of how our career choices in our 20s can affect our retirement in our 60s or 70s.

One issue which teachers and other public employees often overlook is how much money their school pensions will provide for them in the future, and whether or not they will also be able to receive Social Security.  This article is designed to help you avoid some of the pitfalls which create problems for many public service workers after they retire.

As an example in this post, I use the CalSTRS teacher pension plan, because it is one of the largest in the country, and I personally know a number of working and retired California teachers, even within my own family.  As a result, I have been able to get first-hand information from some of them.  However, much of the information is similar for many other teachers and public employees across the U.S., especially if they live in states where their pensions are subject to either the WEP or GPO, which are discussed below.

One of the people who was especially helpful in writing this post was Elizabeth Wallace, a retired California teacher and the author of "Free College: How Graduates Earn the Most Scholarship Money."  If you are a parent or a grandparent of a school age student from kindergarten to high school, you might want to use this link to see her book on Amazon.  She was very helpful in explaining some of the issues she discovered when she retired as a California public school teacher, and I have included her suggestions in this post.

The most important information you should get from this post is that every teacher and public employee needs to research their retirement plans as soon as possible, so they do not receive an unpleasant shock when they reach retirement.  This post will help you be prepared and, hopefully, know what to expect.

What Teachers and Public Employees Should Know About Their Pensions

Like many state pension plans, CalSTRS is a defined benefit pension. You pay into it and, depending on how long you work and how much you earn, you will receive a defined pension when you retire.

If you work for a private company, most Americans can expect to receive Social Security benefits when they retire, which will provide them with a small basic income during their retirement years. If you work as a teacher or a public employee, however, you will receive a state pension, which should also give you a secure pension when you retire. Some things about these state pensions are similar to Social Security, but other aspects of these plans can be quite different. 

CalSTRS is the California State Teachers Retirement System and much of the information in this article comes from their website. Every state teacher’s retirement program, and public employee retirement system, should have a website and provide you with information similar to what is available to CalSTRS members. Since CalSTRS is one of the largest teacher retirement programs in the U.S., the information provided here about their pensions is similar to what teachers can expect in many other states, so it is a good example of some of the retirement problems public employees and teachers can experience.

Whether you are a teacher in California or a public employee in another state, it is very important that you learn about your retirement program as soon as you start working. The CalSTRS website can be found at and contains a wealth of information for both new and long-term California teachers. On that website, you can watch a video which gives an overview of the retirement system at

The average California teacher who retired in 2021 received, on average, a $57,756 annual pension or about $4800 a month. Of course, some teachers received much more or less than that amount.  The average teacher pension is much more generous than what the average person receives from Social Security. This is because they paid far more into their teaching retirement system. The average Social Security recipient received about $1632 in 2022, with most high earners receiving less than $3000 a month, even if they worked until their full retirement age of about 67 years old. In this respect, the average teacher retirement may be much better than the Social Security benefits paid out to even the highest earning private sector retirees. Consequently, people who work solely in the private sector must save much more money in their personal retirement accounts if they want to have a retirement which is comparable to being a retired teacher.

You can use the calculator on the CalSTRS website to get an estimate of how much of a pension a teacher can expect to receive, based on their current income and the number of years they have worked. In California, you have to teach for at least 5 years in order to get a pension when you turn 55. You will also get a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) added to your pension after you retire, based on the Consumer Price Index (2.77% for those who retired in 2021 and less for earlier retirees) although, like the Social Security COLA, it is unlikely to keep up with the rate of inflation, since it does not compound over time.

In addition to getting a COLA, CalSTRS is similar to Social Security in that you are still eligible to get Medicare at age 65. 

However, there are some significant differences between the two systems, as well, particularly in California and the 25 other states where teachers are subject to the Windfall Elimination Provision or WEP. Under the WEP, if you worked in the private sector in addition to teaching, and you paid into Social Security during your career, your Social Security benefits will be cut by as much as 67% because of the WEP. This is despite the fact that you contributed to Social Security and earned those benefits!

Here is an example of how the WEP affects teachers in 26 states. Let’s say you are entitled to receive a CalSTRS pension when you turn 55 because you have worked for more than five years as a teacher. In addition, you may have worked in the private sector and paid into Social Security, too. Under the WEP, your Social Security benefits will be cut by as much as two-thirds. So, if you are entitled to $1200 a month in Social Security benefits, you will only receive $400 because of the WEP. This is despite the fact that you paid into both retirement programs, CalSTRS and Social Security. The WEP is particularly unfair, because it is only applied to teachers and public workers in about half the U.S.

Can you avoid the WEP? It is not easy, because you will need to pay into Social Security and earn a substantial amount for over 20 years for the WEP to decline, and you will have to work for 30 years in the private sector, earning a substantial income, for it will go away completely. Few teachers will achieve that.

What does this mean for the average teacher? It means that if you make a career change, you may end up earning a low CalSTRS pension, because you left your public school teaching job and lost out on your earned retirement benefit, and you may also have your Social Security earnings reduced by the WEP, unless you live in one of the states without the WEP.  In other words, a career change can cost you a portion of your retirement benefits in both program.

Currently, the only solution to this unfair law is to continue to work in a school district, in your current state, and over a period of 30 years, make sure you earn a substantial additional salary in your side job.  Of course, this means that you are working almost full time in TWO different careers at the same time. Only then can you receive the full amount of your earned teacher retirement and the full amount of your earned Social Security. This is not a very satisfactory solution. 

Moving to a non-WEP state during retirement is not a solution, because it would still not allow you to collect your full Social Security in addition to your full teacher's benefit, since your teacher's pension is coming from a WEP state.  Unless the law changes, teachers continue to be subject to this unfair provision.  

The same is true for other public service employees who are subject to a similar program known as the GPO or Government Pension Offset.  When they also work in the private sector and pay Social Security withholding, they currently will not receive a fair share of their Social Security benefits when they retire. 

Remember, these public service employees are getting short-changed by not receiving Social Security benefits which they paid for and earned, often after they paid into the system for decades!

If you live in one of the states affected by the WEP, you should talk to someone at your pension office, as well as someone in your local Social Security Administration office, to see how WEP would affect both your pensions, especially if you are thinking about a career change. 

In addition, everyone who is affected by the WEP or the GPO should write their Congressperson about this unfair situation in half the U.S. As of the publication of this blog post, there is a bill pending in Congress to change this unfair law, but teachers and other public service workers are going to have to be vocal if they want to see Congress make the change.  Encourage your unions and the AARP to take up this cause, as well.

Another issue which is different for teachers and many public service workers is that most of them are never able to collect their spouse’s Social Security benefits. Other retired spouses typically can receive up to 50% of their spouse’s Social Security benefits, while their spouse or former spouse (if they were married over 10 years), is still alive. This is true even if they did not earn any Social Security benefits of their own, because they were a non-working spouse. Then, a surviving spouse may receive a bumped up payment after their spouse dies. 

However, teachers have to choose either their teacher’s retirement OR a percentage of their spouse’s Social Security, and the teacher’s retirement is nearly always far more than 50% or even 100% of their spouse’s Social Security benefits. As a result, they only rarely collect any benefits from Social Security. They cannot receive most of their own, earned benefits, and they cannot receive any benefits based on the earnings of their spouse.

Whether a retiree is going to rely on Social Security or a teacher’s retirement or other public service retirement program, they need to use the online calculators provided by their retirement plan to get an estimate of how much money they can expect to receive when they retire.  They should do this early in their career and repeat it often, especially if they are considering a career change.  They owe it to themselves to have a clear idea of the consequences if they make a change.

Find this tote bag at 

I encourage retirees who read my blog to have a "side-gig" to earn a little extra money and help them stay ahead of inflation.  Especially for energetic, healthy retirees, earning extra money can be a good way to help yourself financially and socially.  Depending on what you do, a side-gig can also challenge you mentally and help you stay up-to-date with current technology.

In my case, I run a little Etsy gift shop where you can find items for retirement parties or retired friends, people who are in 12 Step groups like AA, friends who love nature prints, and so much more.  Check it out at!

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If you are interested in learning more about saving money, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare, where to retire, common medical issues as you age, travel and more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

Source:  Facts about aging from the June 2022 AARP Bulletin.

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