12 Weird Ways Retirees Make Money

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In all likelihood, you have hobbies, talents or skills that could earn you extra cash after you've given up the day job.

Being retired doesn’t have to put an end to earning income. It could just mean transitioning from a traditional career to some nontraditional ways to make money.

In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson explains how some people have made unusual jobs and activities their new post-retirement livelihood. Then read on for other odd ways retirees can enhance their cash flow.

Now that you’re ready to make some money, let’s examine some nontraditional opportunities.

1. Secret shopping

With secret shopping, you’re paid to shop or get free meals while reviewing an establishment. To find out more, head over to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association and check out their assignment search list for nearby jobs. And if you have a favorite chain restaurant, scan its website for secret shopping opportunities. For example, Rotolo’s Pizzeria offers up to $20 in free food for secret shoppers.

2. Treasure hunting

The beach is a great spot to spend the golden years, so why not comb it with a metal detector? Hal, a retired air traffic controller we interviewed, said he’s found a ring worth five digits and $170 in coins. And maybe if you’re lucky — astronomically lucky — you’ll uncover something as incredible as 16.5 pounds of ancient gold and silver, as an Englishman did with his metal detector in 2009.

3. Scrap metal

In high school, I worked at a dump — that is, an actual transfer station. One of my jobs was to rip copper out of junked items like air conditioning units. There’s money in scrap metal.

Take a look around your house, garage and shed, and find some old equipment you’re not using. Identify the metals and then check out Scrapmonster.com for an estimate on prices. The prices there are a month old unless you pay to sign up, but they should be good enough to get you in the ballpark.

You can go to your local transfer station to sell, but I recommend going directly to a scrap yard for the best price.

4. Tutoring

Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Outliers: The Story of Success,” suggests it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to master a subject or activity. If you have a lifelong interest — literature, politics, history — you’re going to be an expert by the age of 66. Tutoring is a chance to share your knowledge with a pupil and make decent money to boot.

5. Consulting

Have you had a career in the same industry for most of your life? Or have you worked jobs in different industries? You can make both angles work as a consultant. If you had the same career for a number of years, you know your industry better than most 20-something managers. If you’ve had several different careers, you’re in the unique position to look at a company problem from different vantage points.

6. Knitting

If you knit, you can sell your wares online at websites like Etsy.com. Don’t know what to knit? Tell your customers you do custom knitting. Do you create your own knitting patterns? You can sell PDF copies of your originals and deliver them via email.

7. Reverse antiquing

Do you have an old hobby collection, perhaps birdhouses or lamps, or lovely old pieces of china or furniture? Get price quotes from antique shops and sell your treasures to the one that offers the most money. Go to the antique stores in the most expensive part of town, or travel to an area known for pricey antique shops. You’ll get the best prices at the most expensive stores. Get the eBay app and compare what the shops are offering with what you can get online.

8. Cleaning services

Are you a clean freak or an organization whiz? Why not start your own business? You could clean houses or help people organize their garages, attics and basements for a fee.

9. Handyman

Think about the skills that people come to you for, and profit from them. Circulate fliers in your neighborhood. (You can make a flier in Microsoft Word in less than 15 minutes; check out this video.) You’d be surprised at how many people don’t know how to change a shower head or replace a faucet.

10. Translating and interpreting

Are you fluent in a second language? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, interpreters and translators make an average of $43,300 a year, or $20.82 an hour, and their job outlook through 2020 is seeing a much faster than average growth of 42 percent. You can also find work-from-home gigs in this industry for translating documents or transcribing audio. Check a job-seeking site like Indeed.com, or search LinkedIn for open positions.

11. Teach your skills

You likely have teachable skills. For instance, you’re an accomplished haggler if you routinely  talk a salesperson into giving you a discount on items like cars and furniture. Ask your community center or library about being a guest speaker or teaching a class.

12. Telemarketing/virtual tech

You can work remotely online or by using the phone. One possibility is providing computer and tech support. Check the “For Techies” section at RetiredBrains for potential employers and do a search on their job board. You can also work from home doing debt collection, cold calling and charitable fundraising.

There’s money to be made, but be cautious. Always check out a company’s reputation before you sign up, and never pay for a service that promises to help you earn money.

Stacy Johnson

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