55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 15 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

55 is that magical age when new discounts open up, but it can also be a tenuous time of professional and financial insecurity.  In 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal, Elizabeth White discusses the need to adjust to a new normal that reflects the reality of being an older adult in today's job market.

Though primarily discussing formerly high earners whose careers were victims of the economy, this is a book filled with insights from the other side and life lessons gleaned from the author's aunt.  Among other tips and tools, White advocates for replacing networks that have dissipated with Resilience Circles as a sort of resource-slash-support group, and provides a primer on how to get started along with reflections at the end of chapters.

One of the things that stood out most for me was the story of Auntie and of finding joy in"simple, affordable pleasures" and the value of small, consistent efforts.  Phrases like "smelling up,"  "new normal of financial vulnerability," and "live low to the ground" had a similar resonance.  

While the aim of this book is to empower those in this situation, my purpose in reading was more one of preparation and it did send me into a bit of a spin about my own professional and financial future.  Luckily, there are resources aplenty that soothed any panic.  I may not need them now, and I may not qualify yet, but those resources and ideas will be waiting.

Highly recommended for those in their fifties and sixties, whatever your current situation, but with a bit of caution for those not yet in this situation and a minor caveat that reading about high earners being unable to adjust to changing life circumstances may be a bit off-putting at first.

This review refers to an advance digital galley read through NetGalley, courtesy of the publisher.  A positive review was not required and all opinions are my own.
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I selected a review copy of this book on NetGalley because I find myself on the edges of this title. While not unemployed, I fall into that category of older adults who live paycheck-to-paycheck, without much wiggle room or retirement savings. This book is extremely helpful, and full of brilliant ideas and suggestions that, had I not read the book, I would never have thought of on my own.

This book is incredibly useful for anyone over 50 who has found themselves with a decreased or non-existent income. In addition to the wealth of resources provided, Elizabeth White also deals with the emotional aspects of struggling to make ends meet and unemployment, and provides guidelines/discussion topics for creating your own support groups based on the book.
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Don't wait till 55 to read this as you'll be doing yourself a disservice.
This book is for those in their 40's, 50's, even 60's and later.
It's about the current struggles of the well educated professionals and how one tiny misstep can result in a lifetime of problems.
For example layoffs are common. We no longer have seniority in work. We no longer have job security in terms of even knowing if we'll have a pension upon retiring.
Many cities like my own have filed for Act 47 bankruptcy and can barely pay their own bills let alone have money available for salaries, healthcare, pensions.
The common thread is the need for validation. That feeling that what a person possesses in terms of a graduate degree means very little in today's world. 
The sacrifices in trying to make a living with below poverty wages is creating a situation of full blown depression, anxiety, and other ailments.
Not being good enough. Not feeling worthy. Not being given a chance.
No call backs, no networking, no assistance for those struggling to survive.
The older one is the harder it's to reenter the workforce after losing one's job.
Companies today want to higher the younger crowd to provide lower wages in hopes they won't need family pay, medical coverage, health benefits, and beyond.
I've noticed a consistent trend in which we have many skilled and hard workers being unemployed or in my case being told their overqualified w/o prior work experience having given up careers to raise their families.
Now wages along with the economy have tanked, many of us struggle to simply stay afloat, there's no savings nor enough of a nest egg should an emergency arise.
Many of us have moved back in with parents or required outside family or friends assistance financially.
Those of us who've had to rely upon governmental aid never thought we'd ever need to do so after spending in my case 30k (and still paying on student loan debts).
Those of us who divorced or tend to aging parents or other family situations are stressed beyond belief as in my case I'm below poverty currently with 3 teens while seeking FT employment with benefits and living wages since 2010 to support my family.
Those of us locked into poverty know reality is much harder pill to swallow as our assistance continues to be cut while bills continue to rise.
Furthermore, the system is set up to fail. If you attempt to better yourself you're penalized. For every extra dollar you might get lets say in one form of aid Ie. EBT another 20 is taken away somewhere else let's say housing.
It's a vicious cycle when you want to work, need to work, have always worked but can't because the salary paid out is less than poverty wages and you can't afford to go lower. Not to mention in my case I worked at a factory which paid out $7.25 hr with ten cent raises when I was a teen trying to put myself through college. That same job pays same wages over 20 yrs later and now I have marital debt, student loan debt, housing debt, car loan debt, bankruptcy filed, and live below poverty raising a family of four.
Yes, to say helpless and worthlessness does take it's toll.
To see nepotism in hiring knowing your talent goes unnoticed along with your skills is sickening.
I work currently for 13 nonprofits all unpaid and have received the Points of Light award for community service provided to me from founder George Herbert Walker Bush our 41st President.
You'd think that alone would get me enough qualifications for employment right?!
With the current administration they mocked the same award I hold to highest standards.
I feel for anyone going through unemployment.
I'm long term unemployed and I can tell you the numbers are incorrect.
The government fails to consider that after 6 months you're no longer counted. The working poor are ignored as working but unable to get assistance. Those working temp or grant funded have same issue.
You see I know what goes on behind closed doors as I work on the front line of many nonprofit organizations. The publicity stunts and attention look great on paper in newsprint but sadly this is reality and these are people's lives.
Don't believe that unemployment is the lowest it's ever been. It's not low, many of us have simply given up. We are no longer on the radar.
In terms of what Elizabeth White has done here -- she's given all of us a platform and a voice. 
I hope this attentive book finds you well and I pray you don't have to feel like a 'dog' in a 'dog eat dog' world like us.
Thank you to Elizabeth White, her publisher, NetGalley, and Aldiko as this book hits the mark and then some.
It's precise, accurate, simply and eloquently stated and I commend her on a job well done.
We are the forgotten and I pray someday we are included rather than excluded.
For more about my story feel free to read my profile and follow my links . 
Thank you!
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Elizabeth White has written an informative and helpful book for those who may find themselves middle aged and broke. The world has changed ,new jobs, new technology, and new skills. What do you do when you need a job and money at that age? This is a good book with resources at the end of it.
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Written in an approachable, almost folksy style, this book is one woman's account of how she found herself financially strapped at age 55, and what she did about it. Readers will find her voice comforting, and perhaps feel less alone if they're in a similar situation. Many of her suggestions, such as cohousing resources, will be applicable to anyone who wants or needs to conserve money.
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This book was a combination of interesting and depressing to me. We are inundated in social and news media with success stories of people who gave everything they had to a business and became huge successes. We don’t hear as often about the businesses that didn’t suceed, and the impact on finances and lives. sobering for sure. I’m not a fan of the author’s suggestion of getting together with groups to navigate financial stresses, but that might just be me.
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"I may be BROKE, but I'm not BROKEN": Elizabeth White asserts in her truthful and informative memoir-informational text!  Readers run to the bookstore or clamber to go ONLINE because White's text is for EVERYONE.  It reads like a story, one of human interest, because she explains her journey using a highly relatable sensibility, one of good common sense.  For example, early in her story she explains while companies were "retrenching" she input many, many job applications, filing ONLINE.  She refers to that process as filing applications that went into a "BLACK HOLE"!  She uses humor to mask an underlying sadness that belies the public. In so doing, readers find themselves at times in a melancholy shift, but it is WELL WORTH it.  This should be a must read for anyone going through a job change, or job loss...You will find this educational (she includes references to helpful websites) and UPLIFTING!
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I had high hopes for this book as I am in my 50s and having to start over in certain areas of my life. However, this book just didn’t do it for me. The book rubbed me the wrong way when the author discusses forming a Resilience Circle and using your group of friends to commiserate with. Some people just don’t have a circle of friends that can understand what may be happening and what do people do when they really have nothing to fall back on? Or have difficulty locating places that are affordable due to limited income? I was hoping for a more step-by-step guide and information. It may help others, but I’ll have to pass on recommending this book.

The resources seem to be valuable, however, and I will keep those for future reference.
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Very depressing... Some good tips and web sites to review... This is a huge problem for some and needs to be addressed. Would be good to have some political action that can be taken for those impacted... unfortunately, they could be part of Trumps deplorables because they are at this stage in life
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This is great if you have a social network of people who can help you but if you do not have the assets then you are short of achieving these goals. Many people have the skills to do a job but they lack the ability to obtain a circle of peers. This book makes it sound so easy and so simple yet so many people lack the education and skills. They may have the skills and experience yet they have lost everything because of being unemployed. They were not upper management and did not have luxury cars and were not making a six figure income. They did not have anything to fall back on and thus this book should be reflected on that factor.
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I'd seen the "You Know Her" TED Talk, and found the book very interesting.  It fleshes out that talk, validating the circumstances and emotions that so many in this age group are experiencing, and offers resources and ideas for making it a 'better life.'  Toward the end of the book, there are several long lists of resources for nontraditional places to seek income.  While we're not quite to this age group yet, we Gen-Xers are already feeling the pinch of a changing workplace, and I'd recommend this book to those under the target age range as a 'what to expect' guide.  It also provides some insight, and promotes empathy, for those who may not know what so many are experiencing.
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