Former VP of Marketing Flipping Burgers at Age 77

Young Rae Kim  |

At the peak of his career, Tom Palome enjoyed flying first class on business trips and playing golf with executives on the weekends as the vice-president of marketing at Oral-B. His new job still allows him time to make it out to the course, but under distinctly different circumstances. At age 77, Palome flips burgers and serves drinks at his local golf course while juggling another job passing out food samples at Sam’s Club, according to an interview with Carol Hymowitz of Bloomberg.

While this case may seem out of the ordinary, according to Encore the over-65 category is the only age-group with a growing labor-force participation rate. While investment experts advise that a savings of 10 to 20 times one’s annual income is required to maintain a person’s standard of living in their golden years, most Americans fall embarrassingly short. In fact 59 percent of people who are 65 and over do not have any retirement account assets according to Federal Reserve data analyzed by the National Institute on Retirement Security.

Palome made a high five-figure income during his time with Oral-B, Palome's income was in the upper end of 5 figures, and it was a salary on wich he was able to live comfortable. However, he was forced to change paths when his wife was tragically killed in a car accident in 1983. As a result, he started his own consulting company, which allowed him the time to stay with his children in California. He made up to $120,000 annually, but being self-employed he did not have a 401k. While Palome saved up to send his kids to college, pay off his mortgage, and help support his own parents, he did not plan for retirement. The most he ever saved was $90,000.

“I never thought I’d live this long,” he told Hymowitz

Even though Palome may have one or two regrets about not saving for retirement, he is not getting down on himself. Instead, he is looking on the bright side and is thankful to be employed at his age. For him, the ability to work has allowed him to remain independent and maintain a lifestyle close enough to the one he enjoyed during the prime of his career. With the aid of a $1,800 a month from social security, a small pension, plus the $1,400 monthly income from his two jobs, Palome is able to fly out to see family, take vacations, and enjoy nights at the theater. 


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