I’m 62 and single with a ‘mountain of debt,’ and a desire to start a business. Am I in a position to take a financial risk?

Dear MarketWatch, 

I am 62, single, in good health with no retirement in a job I do not like. My job stresses me out, and my boss may let me go at the beginning of the year. 

I am working on a business where the start-up cost has already been paid. I am so tired and mentally drained when I get home. I sit at the computer and fall asleep. The business should be very profitable once I get started. I still have a mortgage, car loans and a mountain of debt.  

What do you recommend?

See: I want to retire at 55 in a country with free health care. My spouse will draw Social Security, and I have $160,000. Are we crazy?

Have a question about your own retirement savings? Email us at HelpMeRetire@marketwatch.com

Dear Reader, 

I’m sorry to hear how stressed you are, and it is completely understandable why, at the end of the day, you would be too tired to work on your business. 

That said, there are a few strategies you can try to employ to help beat the fatigue and build a business in your 60s, all while working full time. 

You do need to have a stable income, especially if you are relying on this money to live — and live comfortably, at that. If you’re concerned about your job letting you go next year, it is important that you have a back-up plan.

Unless this business will be up and running and bringing in enough income to live on, explore immediate alternatives. Look for a job that you might enjoy more, one that provides important benefits, like healthcare and retirement accounts, and will pay the bills while you start the business. 

It’s good that the start-up costs have already been paid, but try to keep any additional costs for this at a minimum while you’re in limbo with your current employment. Also, pay your bills and reduce your existing debts (if you can).

Formulate a business plan

Make sure you have a written plan for your business. Writing this business plan out requires you to look at the big picture, and think of every facet of what you’re trying to accomplish, Carol Cassara, a former corporate communications executive who started a business of her own while in retirement, wrote in the online magazine Sixty + Me.

“It’s also much easier to spot red flags in black and white,” she said. “My lack of a plan cost me in [terms of] both time and money.” She also said you don’t want to grind too hard and you shouldn’t open the business prematurely (for example, releasing products before they’re ready to hit the market). 

If you’re too exhausted to work on your business at the end of the day, try starting your day an hour or two earlier, and spend that extra time on your passion project. It may give you the motivation you need to return to the business preparations when you get home from work.

Set “SMART” goals. “SMART” stands for “specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.” Here’s a guide from the University of California on how to come up with those. While building your business, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Keep in mind one more thing — and this is important given the insecurity of your current job and the possibility of needing another one. Don’t expect an immediate return on investment.

“Every business has a horizon for return on investment, and when you’re young, it looks unlimited,” Cassara wrote. “At this age, unlimited is unrealistic.”

Readers: Do you have suggestions for this reader? Add them in the comments below.

Have a question about your own retirement savings? Email us at HelpMeRetire@marketwatch.com

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