Do you ever feel like you need a guide for the next chapter of your life? After 41 years with Rutgers University, Dr. Barbara O’Neil left a long and successful career. She looked for a book that would speak to the transitions she was facing. Unable to find the book she needed, she did her own research and has now compiled her findings into a book that can help guide others along the path as they transition from working toward retirement to living the next chapter of their lives.

If the name sounds familiar; you have probably seen Dr. O’Neill at AFCPE, read her blog, followed her on social media, or heard her speak at a webinar.  Although she retired from her previous career, Dr. O’Neill is as visible as ever with her new venture as a financial education entrepreneur.  In her new book, Flipping a Switch, she presents tips and strategies for life after leaving a long-time career.

Financial, Social, and Life Transitions

Many adults spend decades working a full-time job while saving and planning for retirement. Some find it difficult to change gears from saver to spender. Along with the spending switch, there are many other aspects of financial management and life changes that are part of the transition. The book covers financial, social, and life transitions. IT may be important to note that the target audience for the book is the consumers who need to switch to spending mode in order to use the retirement nest egg they’ve been building for years; not for the consumer who is struggling to make ends meet after retirement.

“Flipping a Switch”

The phrase “flipping a switch” brings to mind the image of flipping a light switch. It represents the changes needed in the transition to the new season of life after retirement from a full-time career. Some changes may be quick, almost instant, like the change from a regular paycheck and deposits to a retirement fund. Other changes are more like a dimmer switch, because they take place gradually over time; like exploring new activities and building social networks.

The book covers 35 transitions. Each chapter includes references and action steps.  Readers can use the action steps to implement the changes described.  Dr. O’Neill says, “If you don’t spend your money, someone else will.” She guides the reader in exploring the idea of reaping the benefits from the years of saving and asks: “Why did you amass savings if you aren’t going to spend it? “If you don’t spend your money, who will?” and “What are you waiting for?” The book covers early and later years – 60’s through 80’s and beyond. Dr. O’Neill recommends using the action steps like the menu at a Jersey diner. Read through the book, select the items that appeal to you or that fit your current needs, and work on those action steps.

About Dr. O’Neill

Dr. O’Neill recently experienced the transition as she left her long-time career in Extension and academia. One of her early positions with Extension was as a county educator. She was interested in the personal finance topics in Family and Consumer Sciences (Home Economics) and pursued the CFP credential as professional development and a way to expand career options. Later, she served as an Extension state specialist and professor at Rutgers University. She noted that writing was a critical component of her work in Extension and academia. Dr. O’Neill continues to use this skill in her new ventures as a financial education entrepreneur.

Dr. O’Neill’s Tips

Here are some of Dr. O’Neill’s tips from her transition to owning her own business. Pay attending to social media. She has long had a presence on Twitter. A LinkedIn profile and a website were important avenues for building her business. She recommends a Zoom license or pro-account to facilitate meetings without the time limits of the free account. Pro-bono work not only helps others but also helps build your brand.  “Not every hour has to be a billable hour,” said Dr. O’Neill. In planning her time, she reminds that it’s okay to say “no” to things that are not a good fit, don’t align with your skills or area of expertise, or that don’t have clear objectives.

The Writing Process

When asked about her writing process, Dr. O’Neill said that she sought a publisher before writing her latest book. She identified a gap in existing literature that motivated her.  She created a proposal which she said was similar to writing an extensive grant application. Traditional publishers often provide a guide for writing a book proposal. She submitted the proposal for Flipping a Switch  to potential publishers. The publisher for Flipping a Switch is a hybrid publisher, as opposed to traditional publishing or self-publishing. She spent about 9 months writing the book. Information and inspiration came from the literature of the field, interviews, and her own previous work. Dr. O’Neill’s previous books include Saving on a Shoestring, Investing on a Shoestring, Investing for Your Future, Small Steps to health and Wealth, and Money Talk: A Financial Guide for Women.

Action Steps for 20 Later Life Transitions

If you attended the 2020 AFCPE Symposium, you can view Dr. O’Neill’s presentation about the book Action Steps for 20 Later Life Transitions.  Learn more about the publishing process by viewing the AFCPE session So You Want to Write a Personal Finance Book? A Primer on Publishing and Promoting Your Future Book, co-presented with Axton Betz-Hamilton.  A free webinar about the book is available from the Extension Financial Security for All Community of Practice at  The book is available on Amazon. You can read Dr. O’Neill’s blog at

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