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Gigs for People in Retirement

By Rich Beattie

  • PUBLISHED September 26
  • |

How would you like to be your own boss, set your own hours, work from home (or your car), and add some extra income to your retirement? And what if it’s easy to get started?

It’s all possible in today’s gig economy. If you think side hustles are solely the province of eager millennials, think again: their popularity with seniors is soaring. Of full-time gig economy workers, 31% are over age 56, and a third of those describe themselves as retired. In fact, more than 400,000 seniors are making money by driving with ride-sharing services, renting out their homes to travelers, pet-sitting for strangers, and other part-time jobs.

And seniors are good at it. According to one home-sharing website, seniors are the highest-rated hosts on the platform; 88 percent of them received five-star ratings in 2017. 

So what makes the gig economy attractive to seniors? And why could it be a good fit for you? Here are a few reasons.

Set your own schedule

The ability to dictate your hours is a huge benefit of the freelance lifestyle no matter your age. Depending on the gig, you may even be able to work from the comfort of your home.

Be valued for your age

Older workers may be pushed out of their careers before they’re ready to retire. When that happens (and it happens), it can be hard to find full-time work in the same industry and at the same salary. But the gig economy simply needs people who want to work—whether it’s driving, teaching, or something else—and its companies actively recruit older workers.

Use your skills, or learn new ones

The gig economy is a great opportunity to use the skills you’ve developed over your career in a different setting. And if those skills don’t match existing opportunities, take the time to learn something new, such as video editing or online photo marketing—both of which pay more than $30 per hour. And platforms exist for people with all kinds of experience, including high-end professionals like lawyers, who are available to coach students prepping for the LSAT.

Low barrier to entry

Gig employers have made their technology easy for new workers to set themselves up; you could get started today. And the cost could be nearly zero with little risk. Don’t like a certain company or the particular work? Try something—or someone—else. Just don’t forget that you’ll need to keep your own earnings and expense records. And if you’re accustomed to having your taxes deducted, remember you’re now responsible for setting aside that money.

Stay social

Isolation can be very detrimental to seniors—but working is a great way to meet people and stay active. There are lots of ways to be social, obviously, such as joining clubs or volunteering. But the gig economy offers you the added incentive of additional income.

Bolster your retirement savings

The extra income could be a game-changer when it comes to your retirement. It could allow you to delay withdrawing retirement savings and start receiving Social Security benefits until age 70. That way, you can maximize your benefits and allow your savings to grow until you’re truly not working. 

Even if you’re past age 70, the additional cash could give you more financial flexibility. Just be sure to invest any surplus earnings. Put extra earnings in an IRA as a way to save, or use a CD ladder as a way to grow your supplemental income. 

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