Retired? Here Are 17 No-Cost Ways to Make Money on the Side.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you want to abandon work completely. Your reasons for wanting to work may be to supplement your retirement income or because working enhances your life socially or emotionally. On the employer side, seniors can offer a deep reserve of perspective, emotional intelligence, skills and contacts -- all things that retirees can emphasize when looking for a job.
If you’re a senior, you can check out job sites explicitly for older job seekers, such as Workforce50.com, Retired Brains, Seniors4Hire, YourEncore (for older scientists, engineers and product developers) and RetireeWorkforce.
Check out these 17 part-time and freelance job suggestions that may suit the retiree who may not want to get entangled in a full-time office job.
Retirees can make extra money indulging in their love for animals and pet care, whether it’s dog walking, grooming or pet sitting when owners go on vacation or travel for work. Make sure the line of work is compatible with your level of strength and fitness -- dog walking requires strength and stamina, and grooming sometimes requires heavy lifting.
Other duties related to animal caretaking may be feeding, watering, inspecting, cleaning (cat litter box, cage or kennel), bathing or giving medicine. If you’ve had any experience with your own pets -- or your children’s -- that counts as experience toward this type of job. Those hiring simply want to see that you’ve got a positive track record, related experience and reliable references. The median wage for animal caretakers is $10.82 an hour.
To market yourself, you can post flyers with your information at local pet stores and animal hospitals, and there are plenty of pet-care job marketplaces where you can create your profile, such as Rover, PetSitter, Fetch! and Care.com (which offers a range of care services, including senior care and childcare).
Whether you already have experience as a tour guide or not, part-time work as a tour guide may be a great fit for art, food, celebrity or history buffs -- or someone who knows a lot about a city’s architecture or history. A part-time tour guide position will allow you to share your knowledge with others and interact with locals and tourists.
If you already have an area of interest or expertise, that’s a good place to start. You can apply to various places for tour guide work, such as local museums and historical monuments. You can also research private tour companies in your city. It’s work that combines a social aspect -- you need to be a bit of a performer -- and intellectual and physical aspects as well. You’re teaching people and have to trek around for the job.
Sharing economy “landlord”
Retirees travel a lot, touring the world or seeing their children and friends. Those who live in big cities heavy in tourism or vacation destinations can rent out their houses, extra rooms or guest houses to travelers on Airbnb or a vacation rental site such as HomeAway.
Joseph Carbone, a financial planner at Focus Planning Group based in Bayport, N.Y., said some of his retired clients “rent out their home for the whole summer. They use the rent they receive to pay their mortgage for the whole summer, if they have one, or use the income to help supplement their retirement."
You can make extra income by not only renting out your living space, but also renting out your driveway using sharing platforms such as Rover Parking, JustPark, Parklee, Panda Parking, Pavemint and CurbFlip.
If you have a much-coveted garage or additional storage space in your apartment, you can use the apps Roost and Spacer to rent out storage space. The money you can make from renting out space varies, depending on where you live and the demand in your community. However, according to Spacer, you can make from $2,000 to $4,000 annually renting out your garage for storage.
Renting your car (or cars) while it’s not in use is also an option. Car sharing websites, such as Getaround, HyreCar and Turo, make it easy. These companies have different provisions, but Getaround will actually rent out your car, clean it and take care of it. (They have a $1 million insurance policy.)
Do some research on whether there is demand for storage, parking and rooms in your area. What’s in demand in an urban area, such as a parking space, may not be for a rural area where parking isn’t a problem. However, that doesn’t mean that someone may not want to rent your driveway to stash their boat or RV. By researching the platforms to see what people are renting out in your area, you’ll get a better idea of how to market your rental spaces.
Market researcher and tester
If you're retired and looking for ways to make easy money in front of your computer, participating in focus groups and surveys may be a good option. Companies will pay you for your opinion and feedback, although the requirements and pay for the work really varies. Focus groups can pay up to a few hundred dollars for a few hours of your time, while surveys tend to take up less time and pay less.
You’ll need a computer or smartphone and internet access to get started. Here are a variety of ways for you to participate in market testing and research:
Website tester: You provide feedback on apps and websites for an average of $10 a completed test, which typically takes 10 to 15 minutes. Some companies you can check out for this type of work are UserTesting.com, Whatusersdo, UserTest, UserFeel, Startuplift and Analysia.
Become a mystery shopper: You get paid to secretly visit stores and report back your experience. The average U.S. wage for a mystery shopper is $14.73 an hour. Find out more through these mystery shopper companies: Mystery Shopper Providers Association, Market Force, Best Mark, Sinclair Customer Metrics and Experience Exchange.
Join a research study or focus group: Companies will pay you to sit in groups and answer consumer questions. This can take from an hour to all day. The pay varies. You can sign up for focus groups at SIS International, Focus Group, Focus Groups, Global Strategy Group and PaidFocusGroups.com.
Fill out online surveys: Register your information for a market research survey site, and you’ll be contacted when there is a survey that fits your demographic. Here are some survey websites where you can register: MySurvey, MyPoints, Survey Junkie, Pinecone, Survey Spot and Opinion Outpost.
If you’re missing office life or want to make some extra income, temping may be the way to go. You have the experience, the maturity and the know-how, so register at a temp agency in your city for short-term projects, seasonal work or filling in for employees who are on vacation or maternity leave.
Temp work varies, depending on the industry and role you’d be filling in for. If it’s general administrative work, the responsibilities can include word processing, answering the phone, data entry, information organization, filing, copying, book travel, writing an expense report and light research. The average hourly wage seriously varies from location to industry, however the average national yearly salary is $28,782.
Gardening is a skill set that many professionals hire out, and if you’re an avid gardener, you can help others maintain or landscape their lawns, trees, gardens and bushes. As any gardener knows, it’s a pretty physical job so much sure you’re up to snuff.
The work is mostly seasonal, depending on where you live. You can work for private clients or at botanical gardens or community garden programs, but the point is if you already have a green thumb and desire to work with plants, then this may be a perfect post-retirement job for you.
Retirees can make extra money by helping working parents by babysitting. If you’ve already raised children, and have grandchildren, who better to provide temporary childcare for busy parents?
The responsibilities vary, from picking up a child from lessons or school, to helping with homework, making dinner or bathing. Decide what responsibilities you’re comfortable with. The hourly wage for babysitting and nanny services vary, depending on the responsibilities (such as if you’re asked to tutor and help with homework) and geographical location. The average babysitting rate is $12 per hour. You can research the average rate in your area.
To kick off your job search, try searching online babysitting job marketplaces, such as Care.com, Urbansitter.com and Sittercity.com, which connect childcare and babysitting professionals with jobs. Or you can join Rent a Grandma, a company that “specializes in placing caring women, possessing deep life experience with families as nannies, babysitters, and in-home care providers,” its website reads.
We all have skills that are valuable, and we can turn some of them into teaching opportunities, especially if you have talents that are now considered DIY or “old school,” such as pickling, carpentry or quilting. "Skills that used to be considered commonplace might now be in great demand," said Alex Whitehouse, a financial advisor based in Vancouver, Wash. So, even if you think you don't know anything worth teaching, you might be pleasantly surprised.
To get started on teaching opportunities, check out your local community colleges, extension school or school for continuing education. Ask what sort of credentials are needed (some require teaching credentials or a master’s degree) and what classes are in demand, as well as how to submit a proposal for a class.
Also, you can take your teaching online to make some side cash. Create a class in your area of expertise (e.g. personal finance, public speaking or fundraising) on one of the many online learning platforms. This would require considerable work in the front end: recording video lectures, creating a class syllabus and coming up with assignments. However, once the work is done, you simply have to post your class and get a percentage of the sales. Some online learning platforms to consider are Zeqr, Skillshare and Uscreen. Pay models vary, but typically you get a percentage of the sales combined with royalties calculated by minutes of your videos watched.
As a retiree, you have decades-worth of things you have accumulated -- so sell them. You could do it the old-fashioned way -- by holding a garage sale or taking your clothing and handbags to local consignment stores or second-hand shops. Books can be sold at a used bookstore. You can even sell your extra car to the local car dealership.
However, you may be able to earn more if you go online to sell your possessions. Two general marketplaces are eBay and Craigslist. You can also go on Facebook and look for buying and selling marketplaces in your local area or try the Letgo app for buying and selling used items. Or if you have technology (such as smartphones, cameras, computers) you want to offload, try selling them to a platform such as Decluttr. You simply scan you item’s barcode, see what Decluttr is willing to pay and print out a label for free shipping.
Or if you’re like the majority of us, with way too many clothes, sell them online. Online consignment offers introverts a great opportunity to make money through a completely virtual process. Today there are a number of online platforms -- such as Asos, Bib + Tuck, Poshmark, SnobSwap, The RealReal, Vestiaire Collective, Tradesy and ThredUp -- specifically for selling your unwanted clothing, jewelry and accessories. Make sure to research the sites to see what sort of items they’re looking for -- high-end designer, super vintage or Zara-friendly.
You will need a computer and a digital camera to take photos of your clothing. The rest is easy. Do your research, pick a great user ID or name for your shop, use quality images and vivid descriptions of what you’re selling and if you’re doing the selling (some of these sites are peer-to-peer selling and others sell for you for a cut of the profits), make sure you offer responsive customer service.
It’s hard to say how much you’ll make, but start small. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to start selling for others, too, for a commission.Related: This New Crop of Entrepreneurs May Surprise You
If you’re a retiree with experience tutoring in a subject or test preparation, this is a great way to supplement your income. You can either sign up for a tutoring company that requires you to show up in the office or go to children’s homes, or you can tutor online. The tutoring companies vary in experience requirements, so it’s best to do a search for local tutoring companies hiring in your area and look for jobs in your particular expertise.
Or you can tutor online. Virtual tutoring is a good way to work from the comfort of your own home. Virtual tutors use FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangouts and other technologies to communicate with students.
The majority of tutoring companies require a bachelor’s degree and some sort of demonstration of expertise in a subject through experience or some type of assessment. Many tutoring companies offer convenient online training modules.
The median hourly wage for a tutor is $17.50 an hour. Do a quick online search of tutoring wages in your area to manage your expectations and set your price.
Tutors in math (all grades, as well as the math used on the SAT and ACT) are always in high demand, along with physical science subjects (physics, chemistry, earth science) and English (critical reading and reading comprehension for test taking), writing (essays) and ESL (grammar, test preparation and English for Specific Purposes, e.g. specific occupations).
You can create a profile for virtual tutoring companies, which will allow you, in most cases, to be contacted by clients, or you can “bid” on clients looking for tutors. Check out the tutoring companies and marketplaces, including Wyzant, Tutor, Revolution Prep and Course Hero, to get started.
Another growing opportunity lies in teaching English to students abroad in countries such as China. Some English tutoring companies to research are VIPKid, Englishunt, Topic-Time, Twosigmas, Lingoda and Funbulous.
Online mock juror
While jury duty is a fact of life for every American, as a retiree, you may appreciate it more when you’re not having to take time off of work. You can get paid to help lawyers prepare for real cases by joining an online mock jury. You may be asked to listen to audio, view video presentations, read material and answer questions.
You can register on some websites that connect mock jurors with legal professionals looking for mock jurors who fit your criteria and locale. Beware of any website that asks for money or a fee in return for mock jury cases -- it’s likely a scam. The screening process varies from company to company.
Some companies you can check out to register as a mock juror are eJury, JuryTalk, JuryTest, OnlineVerdict, Resolution Research and Virtual Jury. You can earn anywhere from $10 to $150 for your time (it varies case to case).
By the time you’re retired, you have so much accumulated experience, contacts and expertise. Why not capitalize on that and take on project-based consulting work?
First, determine your area of expertise -- it may be in multiple areas, but some common areas rich with independent consultant work include business development, marketing strategy, market research, talent sourcing and project management. Start with your current contacts and feel out whether they could use your guiding hand on projects or know of anyone who may.
What’s more, "Don't be afraid to charge a premium price for your experience and expertise," recommends Charles Scott, a financial advisor at Pelleton Capital Management in Scottsdale, Ariz. "Since you're not on anyone's payroll, companies don't have to include all the employee benefits, so you could still look like a bargain to them."Related: Many Baby Boomers Are Choosing Entrepreneurship Instead of Retiring
If you’re a retiree who is also an outstanding cook or baker, you may be able to share your love for the culinary arts with locals and travelers and make some money to boot.
Gone are the days of bake sales, although you can check out local farmers markets to see what the requirements are to get a stand or part of a stand or sell to a local coffee shop or cafe. There are also websites that match people who love to cook with locals and tourists who are looking for home-cooked meals, such as Eatwith, Feastly, Eat With a Local and Cookapp.
Rent a Grandma matches people looking for a nurturing and mature woman for home care services, including cooking.
Mystery shoppers get paid to shop and provide feedback on their experience so companies can know what’s working and where to improve.
Mystery shoppers don’t get paid a lot -- expect minimum wage starting out. However, the longer you’re in it, the more you get paid. Also, the job can provide pocket money and a fun reason to get out of the house. To get started, you can search for open assignments on the Mystery Shopper Providers Association website and also search on general job sites, including Glassdoor, FlexJobs and Monster. Also, beware of scams. If a company is asking for a fee to gain access to mystery shopper jobs, it’s not legitimate.
As a copy editor, you’ll review written material and check for factual accuracy, spelling, grammar and readability. This is an extremely detail-oriented job for people who have an affinity for the English language and a high standard of accuracy.
Often, copy editors and proofreaders are expected to abide by certain writing style guides -- the AP Stylebook or The Chicago Manual of Style are the go-to standards. The hourly wage for a web copy editor in the U.S. is $29 to $31 an hour. The median annual salary in the U.S. is$46,702.
The industries you can work in as a copy editor or proofreader are varied: from print magazines to financial institution reports to web copy to nonprofit newsletters. If you already possess knowledge in AP or Chicago styles, then you’re better suited for copyediting and proofreading for the media publishing industry as well as many advertising agencies. However, academic and medical written material tend to follow different guidelines, such as the AMA Manual of Style.
The bottom line is, if you’ve already got a solid handle on the basics of grammar rules and punctuation and readability, then learning various styles is a matter of simply purchasing the style guide (or an online subscription to the style guide) and looking up rules. You can fine-tune your copyediting and proofreading skills by taking an online copyediting course for certification at recognized online organizations, such as the American Society for Editing, Mediabistro or Poytner.
To find work as a freelance copy editor or proofreader, you can check out major job sites including LinkedIn, FlexJobs, Glassdoor, Monster, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder and Indeed. You can also research freelance sites, such as FlexJobs, Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer, Freelanced, PeoplePerHour, FreelanceWritingGigs, Super Copy Editors, Mediabistro and Global. Create a profile on these sites. Typically, you can either apply for jobs available or your profile may attract potential clients. Keep in mind, some places may ask you to take a short copyediting test to assess your skills.
For a further list of freelance writing and editing resources, check out “101 Places to Find Freelance Writing Jobs,” “The 7 Best Freelance Sites to Find Work” and “The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs.”
Movie or television extra
As a retiree, you can indulge in your dreams of becoming a movie or television star (OK, extra). It’s not something you may want to do every day, but wearing costumes and rubbing elbows with celebrities once or twice a week could be fun.
It doesn’t pay much, and you typically have to work eight- to 12-hour days with a lot of time spent waiting. You can find this kind of work in your area by checking Craigslist for casting calls, or registering for free with a casting agency. Two of the better-known background casting agencies are Central Casting and Backstage.
Transcription work can be ideal for retirees with fast typing skills and who want a job that provides autonomy and control over the work schedule. To transcribe, you need accuracy on top of speed in typing. The average annual salary for a transcriptionist is $24,857. (You generally get paid by how long the audio file is, not how long it takes you to type. That’s why it only pays to become a transcriptionist if you type fast.)
Equipment-wise, you’ll need high quality headphones, a computer and word processing software. You may want to invest in a foot pedal, which allows you to stop, rewind and fast forward the recording quickly. Skills-wise, you’ll have to download media files, so if you don’t have the media or audio player on your computer, you'll need to download what's needed. Along those lines, you also need to be able to convert word processing files into whatever file format the client needs.
When looking for transcription work, emphasize any transcription or word processing experience you’ve had and underscore your knowledge in the aforementioned computer skills.
To get started on your job hunt, do a search of “transcription” or “transcriber” on job sites such as FlexJobs, Glassdoor, Monster, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder and Indeed. Or you can register as a freelance transcriber on job marketplace sites such as TranscribeMe, Go Transcript, UpWork and PeoplePerHour.