Given the dwindling amount being placed in retirement accounts, many retirees find themselves in need of extra income to maintain their lifestyle.
Why It Matters: The number of Americans failing to save for retirement has increased over the past decade even though the importance of retirement funds is a pillar of modern financial psychology.
Millennials and Gen Z workers aren’t saving nearly enough for retirement. This trend isn’t improving with older generations: half of women (and 47% of men) between the ages of 55-66 have no personal retirement savings. And only 17% of American adults place retirement savings as their top financial priority—with 60% of respondents believing they’ll be unable to retire at 65.
While it’s not the right option for everyone, there are plenty of ways to make extra money in retirement. Prioritize your personal interests, think about how you can put your well-deserved experience to work and mind the rules of the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Earn Money at Home
There are many ways to earn money while at home. For example, you can teach someone a language via video call sessions or provide translation services, tutor a pupil or a small group of students, or offer your advice on a website that sources expertise.
Platforms like Etsy, eBay, and Amazon Handmade make it easy to set up an online store and sell handmade items. You can also sell vintage or unused items around your home on these platforms.
Other options include becoming a customer success specialist to help solve customer problems over the phone or helping people do their taxes—if you have a knack for accounting, that is.
Renting out your property
You can earn extra income by renting out a spare room, vacation home, or rental property. Platforms like Airbnb make it easy to list your property and find renters. Renting out your property can also be a great way to meet new people—especially important for aging Americans who might not have strong social networks.
Start Your Own Business
Depending on your experience and expertise, you might be cut out for a part-time business as a solo professional. What did you do before you retired? Can you get into consulting for your previous employer or other businesses in your field? What about offering freelance services based on your skills – such as copywriting, editing and proofreading, photography or website development?
As a person with a robust network and lots of experience, it’s likely you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
Join the Gig Economy
The gig economy has exploded in recent years. Join legions of retirees earning extra cash driving passengers for Uber or Lyft, delivering orders, or house sitting for neighbors and friends. If you love movies and don’t mind the long hours, sign up to be alerted about gigs for film extras. Are you a history buff with a lot of local knowledge? Become a tour guide.
All of these opportunities can help you maintain autonomy over your schedule, freedom to pick and choose the opportunities you prefer and the access to meet a lot of interesting people.
Confirm the impact of your income on Social Security
Unfortunately, earning extra income in retirement can hinder your ability to receive Social Security benefits. This applies to salaries, wages, profits from your business, and other forms of job-related payments such as bonuses. The SSA will not change or halt your benefits based on your investment income, annuities, pensions, interest, or government, military, or veteran-related benefits.
As of 2023, the rule works like this:
If you make more than $21,240 per year and you’re younger than the full retirement age, you’ll stop receiving benefits. But check back for the updated rules. For example, if you’ll reach the full retirement age in 2023, you can make as much as $56,520 per year in the months leading up to your birthday while still receiving Social Security benefits.
Since it doesn’t take much income to exceed these thresholds, consider how much more money you can make from your side gig and what the potential tradeoff can be for choosing one income stream over the other.Thankfully, once your birthday month arrives in the year you hit the full retirement age (currently 66-67 years old), you’re eligible to receive your full benefits, no matter how much money you earn. What’s more, any money that was held back because you earned too much income will be credited to future monthly Social Security payments.