Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Earn Extra Retirement Income and Supplement your Social Security

Many people are discovering that their Social Security does not provide enough income for them to live comfortably for the remainder of their lives.  If you are among those retirees who are having trouble making ends meet, you may want to find a simple way to supplement your retirement income.  Even an extra few hundred dollars a month can make a tremendous difference for many senior citizens.

Before you look for a job, however, you may want to visit your local Social Security or Social Services office and see if you are eligible for any extra financial help.  For example, you may qualify for SSI (supplemental security income), SNAP (food stamps), or a housing voucher. These forms of financial assistance will be dependable and consistent, whether or not you are able to work. The lower your retirement income, and the fewer assets you have, the more likely you are to qualify for these benefits.

If you do not qualify for extra government benefits, but you have money in a savings account or IRA, talk to a financial planner or your banker to see if you have maximized the amount of income you are receiving.  Can you get a higher interest rate on your savings, or larger dividends from your stocks?  If you have invested in a mutual fund, is your current one the best choice to meet your financial needs? If you are making annual withdrawals from your IRA, can you increase the amount you are taking and still feel confident your assets will last the rest of your life? The more passive income you receive, the easier your life with be.  You should review your investments at least once a year to make sure you are maximizing their income and growth.

If those extra financial boosts are not available to you, or they do not provide enough financial security, one of the sources of income listed below may be exactly what you need.

How to Earn Extra Retirement Income

Dog Walking or Pet Sitting - In our retirement community, there are a number of people who have pets they are no longer able to walk.  There are other retirees who come to their homes and walk their dogs twice a day for them.  Often, I see dog walkers with two or three dogs at a time, strolling around our neighborhood. For able-bodied people who like animals, this is a great way to earn extra money and maintain their own health at the same time.  In addition, you are also providing an extra service to weak or infirm seniors, simply by stopping by their homes to pick up their dogs.  You are also providing them with daily contact with another person, and confirming that their health has not taken a turn for the worse. Another way dog lovers can earn extra money is by pet sitting for seniors when they go out of town.  Many people prefer a pet sitter over taking their pets to a commercial kennel.

House Sitting - If you are a reliable, responsible person who is willing to water plants, take care of pets, and keep a home picked up and orderly, this could be a simple way to avoid paying rent for a period of time, or to earn a little extra money while keeping your current residence.  My sister-in-law was a Realtor in an upscale community when she was in her 50s.  She stored her personal furniture and, for several years, she simply moved from home to home while people were on extended trips or their homes were up for sale, and they wanted someone to stay in them until they sold.  She rented a post office box to receive her mail and occasionally spent a few nights in a hotel when she was between homes.  However, for the most part, she was able to do this consistently for a long time and enjoyed the experience, the luxurious homes, and the easy way to build up her savings.

Rent Out a Room - First, check out the rules in your city or homeowner's association. If there is no problem with short-term rentals, you can register with a vacation rental site such as Airbnb, Homestay or VRBO. In addition, talk with friends and see if they know someone who would like to rent a room on a long-term basis.  One of my friends, a retired teacher, enjoys renting a room in her house each year to a college student.  Other people I know rent out rooms exclusively to other senior citizens.  If you are privately renting a room, make sure the rules are clearly written out regarding use of the kitchen and laundry, pets, chores, having friends or grandchildren spend the night, "quiet hours," etc.  It can save a lot of frustration in the future.

Rent out your garage or basement for storage - If you do not want people living with you, consider renting out part of your garage or basement for storage.  Many people will pay $100 or more each month to store their antique car, furniture they don't have room for, or other items.  If you live in a condo with an assigned parking spot which you do not use, you may be able to rent it out to someone else.  This is an easy way to make a little extra money without the need to regularly interact with someone else over breakfast!

Rent out your car - Many retirees discover that they use their car less and less as they get older, yet they still want to keep it.  Register your car on a site like Turo, and other people will pay to use it on a rental basis.  At the very least, you may be able to offset the expense of keeping a car.

Drive other people around - If you would rather drive people around yourself, and you have a good driving record and reliable car, sign up with Lyft or Uber.  People in our retirement community are beginning to be both drivers and users of these ride-sharing services.  It is a convenience for those who can no longer drive to have other seniors drive them around, and the people who are doing the driving are able to earn a little extra money helping their neighbors.  I have heard Uber drivers say that "they would rather drive retirees to the store or airport than pick up drunks from bars!"

Advertise that you will run errands for neighbors for an hourly fee - People who have just gotten out of the hospital, had surgery, or just have trouble getting out of the house, appreciate being able to hire someone to pick up their groceries, dry cleaning, and prescriptions. Just make sure they understand you are running a business and not doing this for free! It is not unusual for younger, healthier retirees to find themselves frequently providing these services for neighbors who do not offer to reimburse them fairly for the time and gas mileage this requires.  If your goal is to earn extra money, then you need to advertise, promote yourself, and run your service like a business.

Cook for those who are home bound - Our local neighborhood online site, Next Door, often contains posts from people who are looking for someone to deliver home cooked meals to them.  You may have to do a little advertising or promoting to build a clientele, but once you do, this could be a fun way to earn money doing something you enjoy.

Sell your arts and crafts - Our community has several sales a year which allow our talented local artists to sell their paintings, crocheted purses, jewelry, pottery, wood carvings, quilts, and other unique, handmade items.  You can also register with a site like Etsy, or sell your creations at a local flea market.  You may even build up a following of people who particularly like your style! When we were in Hawaii one year, we met a woman at a flea market who was selling the most wonderful coffee.  She grew it, roasted the beans, and sold the coffee grounds herself at the flea market.  Find something you enjoy doing and share it with the world.

Blogging or writing online - As a blogger myself, I have noticed that the income from online writing has dropped the past few years.  However, someone who loves to write can still earn a little money by writing a blog, submitting articles to Hubpages, or being an anonymous webpage writer through Textbroker. I have done all three. If you love to share your knowledge and experience with others, this can be a fun way to supplement your income.  If you write a blog, make sure you register as an associate with Google and Amazon, and you will be able to put their ads on your site.  When people click on a Google ad, or purchase something from Amazon after clicking on a link on your blog, you can earn a little extra money.

Write a book - If you have always dreamed of writing a book, go ahead and write it and use Amazon's free service at CreateSpace.com to produce your book and sell it online. Amazon will create both a print-on-demand paperback and a Kindle version of your book.  If you are patient, take your time, and do all the work yourself, you can create it for free. Before you start, it would be smart to get the Amazon Self-Publishing Guide and follow their directions. Success varies, but it can be very satisfying to have your books available online for family, friends and strangers to purchase. Although I have never written a best-seller, I have sold hundreds of copies of my books on Amazon under my pen name, Deborah Dian.

If you have an interesting background, you may want to write a memoir. If you survived a dangerous situation, or have learned how to deal with a complicated illness, there are people who will want to hear about your experiences. If you are an expert in a field, or you love to travel, you can even write both a blog and a book, and use them together to get paid to share your knowledge or adventures.  Set up a Twitter account and business-style Facebook author's page to promote your blog posts and books.  These are free and easy ways to promote them. When you expose your books to the public, you may be surprised at how many people will want to read them. For example, after several friends and members of my family were married in Las Vegas, I wrote  "Your Guide to a Fabulous Las Vegas Wedding."  (Ad)

Gardening or landscaping - Many people, especially as they age or get busy with their careers, tend to let their gardens go, even though they would really love to have a home surrounded by beautiful flowers and shrubs.  If this is something you enjoy, let people know you are in the business of planting flowers and maintaining them on a regular basis.  Contact local businesses, too.  I have a friend who had a lucrative business supplying plants to local office buildings.  They also paid her regularly to return each week to water the plants, prune them and replace them, when necessary.

Handyman or handywoman services - Are you good at making minor home repairs, hanging pictures, refinishing scratched furniture, etc.?  Put your skills to good use.  Senior citizens, in particular, are always in need of someone who can fix that door hinge, hang a screen door, put up their storm windows and provide similar services.

Clothing alterations - Another service which seems to be disappearing commercially, but is still in demand, is alterations.  If you are good at hemming, sewing on buttons, or making other similar repairs and alterations, you may be able to set up a thriving business from your own home.

Teach English or other subjects to students over the internet - If you would like to teach English to foreigners, you can now find jobs doing it from home.  Check out sites such as Lingoda and iTutorGroup which match up teachers and students.  You can also find jobs on Tutors.com and Wyzant.  One of our daughters tutored children in math on Tutors.com while she was getting her teaching degree.  It was a great experience for her and she was able to work during the hours which were convenient for her, since there are  nearly always students in other time zones who need help.

Tutoring - If you are not comfortable teaching online, contact your local school district about tutoring local students after school in subjects in which you excel, such as math, science, music or a foreign language.  If your school does not have any opportunities, you may try advertising your services in your local newspaper or a neighborhood newsletter.

Customer Service Representative - Some companies, especially large national retailers, will hire people to work from home to take orders and provide customer service to clients.  The companies like the fact that they do not have to provide office space for large numbers of people using phones and computers.  You can work from your own home, as long as you are reliable, have a quiet place to work uninterrupted, are willing to work the hours they need you, and you have a computer, phone, headset and internet service. Contact the headquarters of various retailers and ask if they need work-at-home customer service representatives. Do NOT fall for a scam, however. If a company wants you to buy any products or special equipment from them, look elsewhere for a job.  If you are a retiree looking for work, the last thing you want to do is spend money that you may not recoup. 

Part-time jobs - Virtually everywhere I go, restaurants, shops, cafes, bakeries, department stores and dry cleaners have signs which say "employees wanted."  If you need extra income, it would not hurt to stop at a local business and fill out an application.  Don't forget your favorite clothing store.  You may even get a discount!  In addition, talk to someone at your nearest senior center. They may hire you, or they may know of an upcoming job fair where you can meet a number of potential employers. If you live in a senior community, many of them hire residents to work in their office, gym or other facilities.

Sell things you no longer need - Many retirees are crammed into small spaces, trying to hold onto every hobby item and piece of furniture they ever purchased.  Although this is not a long-term solution to your financial problems, if you need extra money and space, try selling items you no longer enjoy or need. Gold jewelry you no longer wear can sometimes fetch a good price.  Selling these items could help you get through a time when money is tight, for example to cover a medical bill or car repair.

If you have other, legitimate ideas to help retirees earn extra money to supplement their Social Security, please feel free to share the details in the comments section.  I'm sure it will be appreciated. Do not include links to other sites, however, or your comment will not be published.

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1 comment:

  1. These are excellent and important tips. With tiny increases in social security being eaten by increases in Medicare costs, it's more prudent than ever for retirees to supplement their incomes.


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