Best Gigs for Retirees
Retirement just isn’t what it used to be. Gone are the days of saying goodbye to work completely at age 65 to spend time on a golf course, in the garden, or aboard a traveling Winnebago. Even if you have the savings required to support 20-plus years without working, many retirees find themselves looking for more meaningful ways to spend their time.
These days, more seniors are turning to the so-called gig economy for opportunities to try something different, get out and meet people and supplement income in retirement. Sometimes called a “side hustle,” a gig describes today’s digital-driven freelance work that provides the freedom to make some extra bucks on your own time and your own terms.
Workers between the ages of 55 and 75 represent the sharpest rise in independent contractor work arrangements, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research. And nearly half a million seniors participate in the online gig economy, according to a study by JP Morgan Chase. The flexibility of this type of work makes it easy to do while still enjoying retirement, and the opportunity to bring in meaningful income helps you postpone the expensive early years of retirement and reduce the number of years you’ll live solely off of your savings.
Is a gig economy job right for you? Here’s are some tips on how to find senior-friendly jobs in the gig economy and what you should be thinking about when comparing potential job opportunities in retirement.
Gig Economy Jobs Are All About the Apps
The first thing to know about the gig economy: Mobile is everything. Your smartphone or tablet is the link between you and your next gig, and knowing how to use mobile apps is crucial.
Downloading an app is typically the first step to applying for a digital-driven freelance job, and you may need to rely on it to receive assignments, get paid, communicate with the corporate office, etc. If you don’t consider yourself a tech-savvy person, ask a friend or family member for a tutorial. Most apps are fairly user-friendly once you get the initial hang of them. And companies that rely on self-motivated freelancers typically offer helpful instructions in the sign-up process.
There Are Many Ways to Work in the Gig Economy
If you are looking to make money in the gig economy, there are many different opportunities. It’s all about finding the one that’s right for you. The first thing to consider is the type of work you want to do. Here are a few popular categories and job providers to consider.
Deliveries – If you are pretty good at getting around, there are tons of services that need delivery people. Companies such as Grubhub, Doordash, and Ubereats have national presences that may be looking for people to deliver take-out orders from neighborhood restaurants. Typically, you earn a set amount for each pick-up and delivery, plus any tips from the customers. With another delivery service, Postmates, you may be working with food orders or deliveries of anything a customer might want (within legal limits, of course). Or you could try Amazon Flex, which pays people to deliver same-day orders to customers with Amazon Prime.
Driving – Uber and Lyft are the most well-known ridesharing services, which pay regular people to taxi others who need rides in their area. Both have a presence in most areas of the country and throughout the world, and many drivers choose to work for both to increase their earning potential. There are certain standards for approval, which involves sharing your car registration and driving record. Your vehicle may have to meet a certain standard, for example. There are other rideshare upstarts, such a Via, which you might consider if it has a presence in your area. If you live in a tight-knit community and have a little ingenuity, you may be able to create rideshares opportunities your own by starting a carpool, ferrying teens to after-school sports games, and so on.
Hosting – If you have vacation property, a guest house, an extra room, or just plan to be out of town, you can make money hosting short-term renters. Sites such as Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO make it easy for people to open their properties to others. Even sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com have begun including privately owned vacation properties in their listings. Typically, these sites require an upfront listing fee or subscription for including your property, and the rental fees are pure profit. But keep in mind you may have to pay cleaning fees before or after the property is used.
Chores and handiwork – Some gig economy jobs are less specific, and cater to whatever the next customer needs. For example, if you’re handy around the house or know how to assemble an IKEA bookshelf, you may be cut out to work for Taskrabbit. The company connects “Taskers” with people who need odd jobs done, from deliveries and dog walking to household work and event planning. If you have a particular skill that you think people are looking for, this may be the site for you. Learn more about becoming a Taskrabbit Tasker.
Corporate work – If you are looking to leverage your professional experience, there are gig economy sites that can connect you to short-term assignments from companies in need. Sites such as Upwork, Fiverr, Flexjobs, and Freelancers.com look for people with experience in marketing, communications, writing, design, coding, or administrative work and allow you to work on projects from home on your schedule.
Motivation Is Required To Make Money
As easy as it may be to land a gig economy job, making real money takes some work. Some gigs are more competitive than others, and you may have to get strategic about how you spend your time. Given the freedom to control your own schedule, it’s easy to become overworked or to not work enough. It helps to go into a gig economy job with an idea of how much you want to work each week, and find a gig that accommodates that schedule.
Benefits and employee perks are not typically part of the deal. Neither is compensation for wear and tear on your car or home. Some delivery jobs may not pay you for orders that a customer cancels. And while these gigs can be great for part-time, supplemental income, it’s hard to make a living doing any single gig.
It’s also important to be aware of scams, which are rampant in the digital age. Carefully research any company and review all contracts and paperwork before accepting a gig.
Pay Attention To Social Security
If you have not yet reached full retirement age and you are receiving Social Security, working may cause a reduction in benefits. Your SSI benefits could be reduced $1 for every $2 earned above the earnings limit from a gig economy job or other earned income. Learn more about how working in retirement is impacted by Social Security.
The best thing about the gig economy? It’s so flexible, you can try many different gigs before deciding on one that’s right for you. That’s a great reason to give it a try.
The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law.