The Sharing Economy Might “Lift” You to a Comfortable Retirement

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

September 29, 2015 — Earlier this month we ran an article about starting your own business in retirement. This will continue the series, but this time we will concentrate on other ways to make extra money once you retire. With so many baby boomers concerned about their retirement finances (only 46% of members in our recent survey say that their expected retirement income will allow them to continue their pre-retirement lifestyles), we expect it is a topic many of you will be interested in.

There are generally 2 ways to put the extra money in your pocket that affords a worry-free retirement. You can either work for someone else, or you can be your own boss. Each of them has their particular advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at both.

As your own boss
In “Should You Start a New Business in Retirement” (see “For Further Reading” at end) we mentioned advantages like being your own boss, feeling fulfilled, and doing what you like to do. The downsides of starting a new business are that it takes a lot of effort and risk, it might not succeed, and it can tie you down. You also don’t enjoy some of the protections you might have as an employee.

As an employee
In our “5 Dream Jobs for Retirees” article we listed several jobs where you would be an employee. The biggest advantage of being an employee (in this case most likely a casual, part-time, or contract worker) is that someone else has already created the business. They have taken the risks, secured a customer base, and can afford to pay you. The biggest disadvantage is the one most often cited for why people hate their jobs – they don’t like their boss.

The Sharing Economy to the Rescue
The new sharing (gig) economy and the Internet might just be the route that gives you enough money for a comfortable retirement. Instead of having to start your own business, you can join someone else’s, with the advantage that they help you find customers.

The New York Times had a great article last week, “Claiming a Stake in the Sharing Economy“. Their examples were terrific. In fact, these ideas are so interesting you might want to consider them as a consumer the next time you need to rent a car, find a good pet-sitter, or have household chores you can’t do. A big advantage of these services are their peer reviews; you generally get a pretty good idea of what you are getting, in advance. Here are some ideas:

Robert Blunier uses RelayRides.com to rent out his 2005 Ford Mustang. He gets $39/day, plus extra to ferry people to and from local airports. That is a big bargain over what it would cost someone to rent a convertible from an airport lessee, and it produces pretty good income for him. Like many jobs in the sharing economy, you accept jobs when it suits you, not the other way around. Some refer to this as the “opt-in economy’, and the participants as “micro-entrepreneurs”.

Martha Williams is a pet sitter with DogVacay.com, an alternative to kennels. She limits how many pets she takes in, gets $45/day per pet, and counts many of her clients as new friends.

William Daub signed up with Taskrabbit.com. His experience points to a practice that anyone thinking about working in retirement should adopt – start by thinking about what you like to do, and what you are good at. In Daub’s case, he is good at assembling Ikea furniture. He uses TaskRabbit to find clients and now has a rate of $49 an hour (the company gets a cut and requires training and a background check). The company refers to its associates as “Taskers”.

Skip Budge, who created his own seasonal business driving cars to Florida

Be a driver for uber or lyft (hence our feeble headline pun). You use your own car and work when you want. Instead of renting a cab from a wealthy fleet owner and working for peanuts, you keep more of the money you earn. As an alternative, create your own network and drive people to the airport for cash.

Rent out your home with airbnb.com. It is amazing how many people now rent out their home via airbnb. While not legal everywhere, your children and grandchildren probably use it all the time to find better accommodations for less money than a hotel. Folks who participate often make sure they rent out their place when they go on vacations or family visits, making considerable amounts of money along the way. Some people have an extra room or outbuilding that can be rented.

More about companies that offer jobs in sharing economy. In “Pixeled and Dimed on not getting by in the sharing economy” you can learn more about the pluses and minuses of what some call the “gig” economy. Some other companies you might consider are: Fivrr.com (“make money doing what you love in your spare time like proofreading, designing, etc.”), Zaarly.com (Home Service Experts), and Postmates.com (Urban deliveries). In previous articles Topretirements’ members indicated some of them earn money by selling things on etsy.com and Ebay.

Disadvantages too
Jobs in the sharing economy are not perfect. They carry risks like being on your own with a crazy or even dangerous customer. You might not earn as much as you think. You could run into legal risks, like it being illegal or against local zoning ordinances to pick up passengers or rent your home. Your insurance could also become problematic as well. Carefully consider these risks before you jump on the bandwagon.

Ideas for finding a good job in retirement
If the sharing economy doesn’t interest you there are still plenty of traditional part time and seasonable jobs that might let you earn extra cash and keep busy:

1. Move to a resort town. Businesses in resort areas have a big need for reliable seasonal help. You might be able to pick the kind of work you like to do, and at the end of the season you can get back to being retired. You might be a ticket taker, baby sitter, golf starter or ranger, maintenance worker, or something more advanced. Sometimes these jobs are unpaid, such as resort hosts. While those won’t add to your income, they often come with valuable perks while also being a fun way to get out and meet people.

2. Seasonal Business. Another avenue is to be a worker for a seasonal business like Amazon, Wal-Mart, UPS, LL Bean, H & R Block, etc. These outfits hire thousands of workers and sometimes even provide a place to stay.

3. Network. You, your children, and friends all probably have contacts that run or work in local businesses. Ask them for info about what kind of temporary or part-time help their companies hire. Most businesses are wary about adding full-time staff because they have to pay benefits and worry about running out of work in slow periods. While that sort of mentality might be the reason you became retired, it can work to your advantage now. Use your network to see how your skills might get put to use again.

Bottom line
Making extra money isn’t the only advantage to working in retirement. A study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease finds that working in one’s 60s and 70s is associated with better physical and mental health (listen to this NPR radio show for more on the advantages of working in retirement). This is a great time to be a retiree – no other generation has had so many options for work to choose from. After you figure out the kind of work you like to do, consider the suggestions discussed here. Investigate carefully before you leap, and be prepared to adjust if things don’t work out as expected.

For further reading
Should You Start a New Business in Retirement
5 Ways to Find Second Act Careers
8 Good Reasons to Be Your Own Boss After 50
5 Dream Jobs for Your Retirement (there are links to more articles about retirement jobs in this one)
Topretirements Members Very Confident About Their Retirements
Best Places to Find Work in Retirement
How to Find a Job in Retirement That Suits You
Our Adventurous Retiree Series (multiple profiles of interesting retirements)

Comments?
Have you had experience in the sharing economy, good or bad? Please share your post-retirement experiences in the Comments section below so we can all learn together.




Posted by Admin on September 28th, 2015

6 Comments »

  1. Great article. Much to think about. Thanks!

    by ella — September 29, 2015

  2. One of the advantages of an active adult community is the ability to leverage your skills into part time jobs providing services to other community members. In our community newsletter you will find residents who have the skills to provide services such as electrician, handyman, painting, income tax, accounting, pet sitting, home watch, interior decorating, computer assistance, electronics tv/stereo setup, clock repair, sewing, cooking, plumbing, a/c repair, airport runs and more. The best part is that they are right here, they are really talented and their rates are most reasonable.

    by ljtucson — September 29, 2015

  3. This is a great article, and gives me hope to be able to do interesting work in retirement. I absolutely will have to work.

    by Elaine C. — September 29, 2015

  4. My cousin, who lives in Solavita in Kissimmee, Florida, confirmed ljtucson’s post. She even buys used furniture, washers and dryers in amazing condition for tiny prices. Seriously – $75 for a 2-year old top quality washer and same for dryer, etc. Then, there’s a ‘truck guy’ in her community who delivers it for a pittance. Sweet!

    by ella — September 30, 2015

  5. This article is a keeper. I can’t imagine not working in retirement. I am not a stay at home guy, and if I am, I am outdoors. I want to volunteer, but working part time, provides a wage, too.

    by DeyErmand — October 1, 2015

  6. Kudos to Top Retirements for addressing this issue. Earlier this week, using published data on job prospects across the nation, I posted an article about “The Best Places to Earn in the Southeast.” Fascinating data, including that Durham, NC, seems to be an ideal place to earn across a number of occupations. Many retirees I have met have gone into the real estate business to supplement their post-career incomes. Charleston, SC, a wonderful town in most regards, is about the worst town in the nation for income from real estate. If you are interested in reading the entire article, it is at my website, GolfCommunityReviews.com

    by Larry — October 23, 2015

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