6 Ways to Make Extra Money in Retirement

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

Whether retirement seems like a far-off dream or you’ve been retired for years, it’s important to consider how you want your retirement to look.

Almost half of American workers plan to continue working in some capacity, finding alternatives for retirement to generate extra income or some passive income. Many are going this route to supplement their retirement savings, especially as the cost of living rises, though money isn’t the only factor.

People find that working in their golden years helps them stay active, maintain a sense of purpose, have daily social interactions and keep their brains alert.

Trends are showing people are retiring younger. People are also living longer lives, which means your retirement could span into your 80s or 90s.

Luckily, there are many opportunities for seniors looking to supplement their retirement savings and diversify their income streams in retirement.

Side hustle or full-time gig?

Shrugging senior confused and worried
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You can define full-time work as employment that offers 40 hours a week and a steady, reliable paycheck. These jobs usually come with attractive health benefits.

Most full-time and part-time work comes with set schedules and set wages. These jobs are reliable, but you lose flexibility with that reliability.

A side gig, or a side hustle, is a freelance job you can do when your schedule permits that create some extra income or passive income. Side gigs are supplemental income, but if you’re keen on using them to earn money, you can work side gigs full-time on your schedule.

On the other hand, side gigs tend to be driven based on clients’ needs, and if those clients scale back, your income will unexpectedly follow suit. These ebbs and flows in earnings are the main drawbacks to side gigs, and you’ll need strong mental health to keep calm under pressure if it’s a slow month.

Side gigs are optimal for people who prioritize their time over financial security.

Find the right retirement work for you

Retiree outside his house in sunny weather
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Answer these questions to determine which work alternatives for retirement are suitable for you:

  • How much extra income do I need?
  • What commitments in my life will be affected by a new job?
  • How much time do I have and want to invest?
  • Which do I value more – security and stability or flexibility?
  • Do I handle financial pressures well?
  • Can I do something to create passive income?

Adjusting your space to your needs

Happy senior woman in an art studio
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There are many great side hustles you can undertake using what you already have available. Once you have a plan, you’ll want to ensure you set your space up for success.

For example, do you have a designated workspace if you work on a computer, or are you making room at your dining table?

For your best chances at any side gig or small business to succeed, you’ll want to treat it as a job. Whether creating arts or crafts, working at a desk, or renting out portions of your home, you’ll need a dedicated workspace that functions smoothly.

Consider converting a spare room into a home office. If you don’t have the space for that, consider building a foldable desk into the space you already have.

You can always hire a contractor for some quick and effective renovations.

1. Renting out your space and more

Senior woman outside home
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Difficulty Level: Normal

Renting various portions of your property is a great way to utilize what you already have, diversify income streams in retirement and perhaps even earn gratitude from people who’ll use that space.

A typical example is renting a suite in your home for vacationers on sites like Airbnb or HomeAway. You’ll be surprised at what other areas of your home people are keen to rent.

A lot of people are looking for driveway space they can rent. You can use several sites for this, like JustPark and CurbFlip. A garage as a storage space is highly coveted, and you can rent it on Roost or Spacer.

You can even rent out your car — Getaround is a site that not only rents your vehicle for you but also ensures it stays clean and maintained.

Whom renting out space is great for

Happy older couple in front of a home they bought or sold
Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

If you have space you’re not utilizing, this is a great opportunity. Many empty nesters have taken this route rather than downsizing.

People always look for places to stay, park their cars, and store goods — an excellent side gig to think about if you have the room.

You’ll need to keep a calendar of your bookings and ensure you’ve handled your end of the deal. For Airbnbs, this may mean re-stocking the essentials, washing the bedding, and giving the place a general clean.

Each different site will have additional stipulations and rules for you, and there are local laws and tax implications to consider.

If you get a handle on those rules and build a solid routine, you’ll find these rental sites can be easy for everyone involved.

2. Bed and breakfast

Bed with pillows
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Difficulty Level: Challenging

A bed and breakfast is a beautiful way to turn your home into a business. Before diving in, keep in mind that local governments may zone bed and breakfasts, so you will need to research what’s allowed and what isn’t.

A bed and breakfast is technically a small hotel, so you’ll want to consider how to advertise, collect payments, and manage bookings.

You will need to convert each room into a cozy bedroom with plenty of lighting, electrical outlets, and customizable heating and cooling. You may want to consider some great contractors if you need to make improvements.

Having extra guests means extra strain on your appliances and services. Consider a home warranty plan to save you time when looking for a trusted contractor to repair your appliances or home services.

You’ll also need kitchen supplies, bookkeeping knowledge, and an excellent head for management.

Whom a bed and breakfast is great for

Senior mean doing housework and cleaning kitchen
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A bed and breakfast isn’t an individual project. You’ll require a team of people to be successful, and you’ll want that team to play to their strengths.

If you’re great with numbers but have little customer experience, you’ll want to hire someone to manage the customer-facing side of the business – bookings, check-ins and check-outs.

If you’re not much of a cook, you’ll want someone to run the breakfast side of things, including what to serve and how to manage food costs within a budget properly.

Many hotels use white linens because they go through a lot of them. You’ll need to manage inventory and be sure you’re ready if something in your bed and breakfast needs repairs. You’re likely great at some aspect of this but not all of it.

Be sure to know that running a bed and breakfast will be a team effort to be successful.

3. Teaching/tutoring

Older woman working remotely
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Difficulty Level: Normal to Challenging

You might not consider yourself a classic teacher, but the world has significantly changed. Many commonplace skills you might have, such as cooking, sewing, handyperson work and others are not nearly as commonplace anymore.

You may be surprised at how many people seek to learn new skills that you may take for granted.

Give your local community colleges and extension schools a call if the idea of teaching intrigues you. They’ll walk you through what credentials you need to teach and how to submit proposed new classes.

You can also teach online with sites like SkillShare. These sites require you to create lessons, record them, and upload them to the internet. Doing this requires a high level of work up front, but once you have that completed, people will take part in your classes, and income will start to roll in.

Whom teaching/tutoring is great for

Excited senior teacher in a classroom
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Teaching and tutoring is a great way to earn extra money if you have valuable skills and a flexible schedule. It does require patience and planning. Students tend to ask many questions, and as you get new students, you’ll get those questions repeatedly.

You’ll also need to plan how to teach your skill in advance, meaning you’ll have to break it down into small steps and build your student’s knowledge with assignments, lectures, and practice.

Another option to consider is offering proofreading services. Many students need to write multiple essays during their academic careers, so there’s often high demand for proofreaders to check grammar and spelling errors. This can be a great way to get involved in education without having to teach a specific skill.

If you’re looking to teach a skill and have the patience to go over the basics as many times as needed, teaching is a great way to earn some extra income.

4. Baby, pet and house sitting

Siberian kitten
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Difficulty Level: Normal to Challenging

If you’ve raised children and grandchildren, then you already have a wealth of experience you can bring to babysitting gigs. You can join sites like Urbansitter.com or Rent a Grandma, which helps put you in touch with customers.

You’ll find gigs that vary in needs, from picking up children from school to tutoring them with homework.

It’s not just children that people occasionally need help looking after. There’s a high demand for pet sitters and even homesitters. Whether someone needs you to walk their dogs daily or only take care of them for a weekend, you get quality pet time and exercise.

You may not find watering plants all that lively, but you’ll make their owners extremely grateful.

In addition to the numerous opportunities available locally, companies such as Trusted Housesitters allow pet lovers to travel the world with free accommodation in exchange for looking after the homeowner’s pets. Many retirees find this resource enables them to travel long-term and even explore potential places to retire abroad.

Whom sitting is great for

Senior retiree walking a dog
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Housesitting isn’t necessarily demanding if you’re detail-oriented and reliable. Children and pets are far more demanding jobs and can provide some challenges.

There’ll be times that require energy and effort on your part, which can make this gig more challenging than others. You can thrive in these side gigs if you have a flexible schedule and a lot of care.

The demand for sitters is growing, so opportunities are awaiting you.

If you’re great with time management, you may be able to juggle several babysitting and pet-sitting responsibilities throughout the week. People will be relying on you, so you’ll have to live up to that responsibility.

If that sounds easy to you, this is a great way to earn extra money.

5. Selling online and offline

Senior couple using a tablet
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Difficulty Level: Normal

If you have a lot of stuff and you’ve been keen on making some extra money, consider selling things. The old-fashioned way to sell something is to hold garage sales or go to consignment stores, but you might make more money if you sell your items online.

Facebook makes it easy to sell previously owned goods, and there are other great sites like eBay or Craigslist. Other apps, like DeCluttr, may offer money for old electronics. LetGo is another app designed to help you sell used items. (Editor’s note: See our Living on the Cheap article “Online yard sales beyond Craigslist” for tips.)

If you have a lot of clothes, several online sites will help you sell them. The same is valid for jewelry. You’ll need a computer and a digital camera to sell anything online. The hardest part is getting started, so approach with patience and ask for help from a friend or family member if you need it.

If selling online isn’t your cup of tea, you can host a yard or garage sale to earn extra cash. To be successful, make sure you plan ahead. Select the items you’d like to sell and price them accordingly.

Promoting your upcoming yard sale can truly make a difference. Make sure to inform your friends, family, and neighbors. They may even be able to donate some items for you to sell. Putting up signs that point the way from the main road to your location is a great way to get passersby’s attention. Greet your customers with a smile, and most importantly, have fun.

Whom selling is great for

Woman doing pottery
BGStock72 / Shutterstock.com

If you’re crafty and like creating things as a hobby, selling online is a great way to earn an extra income. Etsy is a site designed for precisely that – selling hobby creations online. Whether you make handmade jewelry or pottery or love to crochet, there’s a market for it.

If you’re not up for the commitment of selling online, hosting a yard sale is a great way to sell your items and socialize with your community.

If you have a lot of clutter you no longer use (and your family doesn’t want it), you can sell it. Once you get the hang of it, you can offer to sell things for other people and earn a percentage of that.

The hardest part of selling online is the time involved, which makes it ideal for retirees.

6. Cooking

Woman dancing and cooking
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Difficulty Level: Normal to Challenging

If you love working in the kitchen, you may be able to turn that to your advantage. Create a delicious specialty and sell it at farmer’s markets or local cafes.

You’ll need to research local food sales requirements, but after that, you’re good to start cooking. Doing this can be ideal if you’re a home baker or culinary artist.

Many websites also match tourists with local chefs to experience a home-cooked meal with authenticity.

Eat With a Local, Feastly, and Cookapp are great apps to check out if this interests you. You’ll meet people and share your love of cooking at the same time.

Whom cooking is great for

Senior couple cooking a healthy meal
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If you’re at peace within the kitchen, this is a great way to earn an alternative income. You’ll thrive in this market if you love baking or delighting people with fabulous meals.

Specific sites, like Rent a Grandma, advertise caring women for home-care services, which can include cooking.

If you don’t cook often, this can be a stressful job to take on. Cooking requires a lot of prep and knowledge of various techniques. Many chefs learn these skills over time, but if you’re starting from scratch, you may find it overwhelming.

If you start small and make an effort to keep learning and improving, this can be a rewarding side hustle.


Retiree holding stack of $100 bills
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More people are turning to side gigs after retirement to supplement their lifestyles. There are many options for your skill sets, so find what’s right for you.

The beauty of side hustles is that you can ramp them up or scale them down as you need. This is especially true when it’s passive income from renting some space.

If you effectively manage your duties, you’ll be able to live your retired life the way you want.

Isn’t that the whole point of retirement? These are your golden years, and you want them to shine brightly. You can do that with the help of some creative side hustle.

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