Summary of 55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal

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55, Underemployed, and Faking Normal book summary
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  • Eye Opening
  • Engaging
  • Concrete Examples


Aging advocate Elizabeth White’s part-memoir, part-how-to text evokes regret and hope. The downside: You will regret not reading it sooner. You may feel resentful about the economic factors that strand many older adults, 55 and beyond, on a downward fiscal spiral. The upside: You will welcome her lessons on frugal living, meaningful choices and new career paths. By sharing her riches-to-rags story, White traverses a fiscal journey that will resonate with anyone who struggles to make ends meet or to find a new job in an uncertain economy. When she writes about unpaid light bills and unanswered job applications, she speaks for many people. White provides practical solutions for finding new earnings, affordable housing, cheaper travel, support groups and assistance programs. She can be bossy and repetitive, but everyone – from financial planners to advocates for the elderly to those who are aging themselves – will benefit from her guidance. Decades from now, you’ll be grateful that your younger self found time to read it.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the changing global economy and age discrimination disrupt career and retirement plans for older workers,
  • What the “gig economy” offers middle-aged professionals and recent retirees, and
  • What strategies will help you reduce housing costs and live frugally, before and after retirement.

About the Author

Elizabeth White is a frequent guest blogger and conference speaker. Her work has appeared in Barrons, Forbes, The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, Next Avenue, the American Society for Aging newsletter and The Washington Post, and she has appeared on the PBS NewsHour. Her TEDx Talk, now on the main TED stage, has more than 1.5 million views. White is a nonprofit executive and advocate for aging solutions.



The Face of Change

You recognize that 55-year-old face. It’s the well-groomed image of an older woman or man who seems to have his or her life in order. But looking more closely, you see and hear the truth about overdue utility bills, canceled salon appointments and corporate downsizing. The person before you pretends to be in control, but he or she struggles to maintain an accustomed lifestyle due to the lack of a steady job, a retirement account or emergency funds. Imagine a woman with a first-rate education who is underemployed. She suspects that age discrimination led recruiters to reject her job applications. She worries secretly about becoming homeless. Sadly, her story is not unique. The face in front of you may reflect your own fears about aging during an era of great change and uncertainty.

Lessons on Healthy Finances from a Nurse

Don’t despair. Take the story of an older African-American woman who amassed a large estate on an annual salary of $30,000 or less as a private nurse. Her bank account sports a hefty six-figure sum, and her home in Brooklyn is now worth nearly...

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