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7 Ideas: How to Make Enough Money to Survive Your Retirement

Category: Financial and taxes in retirement

September 25, 2012 — The overwhelming majority of baby boomers are going to face a painful budget squeeze as their retirements start to become a reality. Used to the high life as many of us are, it will be a very big challenge to support that lifestyle without the income stream we are accustomed to.

This article was an idea from Linda, a member who asked us to try to get ideas from our members on different ways of raising cash in retirement. We’ve listed some ideas we’ve seen, including some nutty ones from a recent Wall Street Journal article. But we are really hoping that you, our members, will share what you are doing to bring in extra cash to support your retirement. Please add your ideas to the Comments section below, whether they are tried and true or just a wild idea that you think might work.

Best Ideas for Making Enough Money to Survive Your Retirement
1. Turn what you love to do into a business. So you like to make jewelery like Betty Fitterman, fool around with computers, fix bicycles, paint signs, decorate rooms, or give tours on topics like local history, biking, or nature. Perhaps you have good handyman skills or like to drive people to the airport. Does your area have part-time residents who need an on the spot person to help manage their properties? Maybe you like to go to tagsales – perhaps you could turn your finds into an eBay business? Getting paid for what you like to do can be a lot of fun. You can start by spending time searching online for businesses that have been created out of hobbies that interest you; you might find an idea that will work for you in your locale. With a little planning, simple website, and good networking you might be able to turn your hobbies and interests into a profitable side business.

2. Work in the tourist business. Most tourist oriented businesses are seasonal and need part-time help. Be a golf course starter or ranger (free golf usually!), work in the ticket office or gift shop. Hotels, restaurants, and caterers usually need part time staff as well.

3. Consult or work part time in your old field. Businesses are reluctant to add full time staff or invest in untrained employees. But they might hire you because you are flexible, already trained, and aren’t looking for a long term career.

4. Get trained in the health care field. Once we baby boomers start to get really old there won’t be enough workers to take care of all of us. So think about going back to school to get qualified for some type of position in healthcare, one of the few markets where there is a genuine labor shortage.

5. Check out your community college training programs. In most areas the community colleges are doing a great job of trying to figure out how they can prepare workers for the jobs employers need to fill. So check out their offerings and go and talk to them. There probably are several courses you could take that would help you walk into a new job.

6. Take in a boarder. Maybe you have an extra room. A divorcee, student, or young person might just need a place to live that doesn’t cost a fortune, but puts extra income in your pocket. The same goes for pets – lots of folks need a doggie or cat hotel they can trust.

7. Well beyond the usual. A recent Wall St. Journal article, “Beyond the Tried and True: Generating Cash in Later Life“, had a list of 5 really unusual ideas, some of which were a bit zany. One of them was the “rent out a room” idea we mentioned, the others were: Grow trees (lucrative, but have you thought about how long it takes to grow timber?), preferred stock, tutor students, and make loans to other people using sites like

For further reference:
Forbes – “Retirement Hobbies That Make Money
US News – “21 Ways to Make Extra Money in Retirement

So Lets Hear Your Ideas!
The idea for this article came from a member who was looking for ideas on how she could make more money. Please share the wealth – of your ideas and experience – in the Comments section below.

Posted by John Brady on September 25th, 2012


  1. You can have more money by saving money when you travel. For example, in my book, Suzann R. relates how she stays “all over the world for free using no-cost sites such as CouchSurfing (, or Itamos ( She also stays in youth hostels, emphatically stating, “They are NOT just for the young!”

    Jan Cullinane

    by Jan Cullinane — September 26, 2012

  2. I write feature articles for a mining magazine, and novels including Listening to van Gogh, A Coming of Retirement Age novel. Use a skill that has no age, sex, or race barriers. No one cares how old a productive writer is.

    by james stevens — September 26, 2012

  3. I recently retired from a career in business. I had been an elementary teacher years ago and had taught some community ed classes throughout the years. My husband and I have travelled extensively and have become famiiar with other cultures and language as a result. It’s what we love to do! So, I took an on-line certification program to teach English as a Foreign Langugage. I’m now working locally as a paid tutor, as well as a volunteer, in order to generate some extra income as well as gain some experience teaching non-native English speakers. By 2014 we’re planning to spend a few months somewhere in South America teaching and travelling

    by Sharon Cole — September 26, 2012

  4. @Sharon Cole: Which online course did you take for teaching ESL & why did you choose that one?

    by LeAnn Suzann — September 26, 2012

  5. Thanks for your follow-up on this one! I am looking forward to what people have to offer.

    I am a Health Care worker – a pharmacist and am facing subtle age descrimination. So on-line work is high in my sights.
    I have an eBay venture started for Vintage Items from Estate Sales. After all I am vintage! I just have difficulty locating Estate Sales in this area.
    And I have thought of ESL and tutoring. Both can be done via the internet. Transcription work (though not much is available). Ghostwriter.

    Readers, do you have any ideas for good web sites?,, Americorp (offers a stipend for xxxhours), Craigslist are on the top of my list currently.
    Craft sales along with Vintage on Upcycling (recycling with a new use. Also called repurposing). Concierge services.
    Would like to figure out ways to extend my extensive education in the sciences and pass them on to others.
    My ex drives a school bus. My friend’s husband drives a local Transit bus. (I am NOT a good enough driver for that one!)

    by Lulu — September 27, 2012

  6. I heard on the news yesterday that 40% of people nearing retirement age have no retirement savings and then I ran across this article this morning and it says 52% approaching retirement have no savings

    This is horrible news considering all we hear about is IF Social Security will be around in the future! Why doesn’t the government work to FIX SS instead of trying to destroy it? No system is perfect and all systems need tweaking over time. So let’s FIX it! If people have no savings and no SS then what? Maybe the SS system could have a new feature which would function like a 401K. Maybe a two part system where one part would be traditional SS and the second part would be like a 401K where you contribute money to your own account. There are brainier people out there than me but let’s fix it now instead of sticking our heads in the sand!

    Plus, people are weak and want to buy everything they desire rather than save the money! We need to educate kids and young adults early in life on the importance of saving money! Black Friday sales are drilled into people’s heads more than important things like saving for retirement. It’s all about instant gratification! 40 years down the road seems like a million years away to young people! Believe me, we have done our share of foolish spending and somewhat regret that now but we did save a lot for retirement too!

    by Louise — October 17, 2015

  7. Lulu – definitely check out the temp services for health care workers! When looking at 55+ communities, I met a semi-retired pharmacist who was shopping for a retirement home. This gentleman mentioned that he was listed wih a temp service, who would send him to various pharmacies when their pharmacist was out for awhile. He was enjoying the temporary work. One of my kids is a pharmacist, and has mentioned that some hospitals, nursing homes and mail order pharmacies hire part-time pharmacists to avoid paying benefits. Subtle age discrimination tends to be less apparent in these types of positions since fewer young people compete for these jobs.

    by Kate — October 18, 2015

  8. Lulu, check out this “Snowbird” program CVS offers to its employees, including pharmacists.

    “Snowbird Program: CVS/pharmacy offers an unusual snowbird program,
    which lets employees transfer to a different CVS/pharmacy location on a
    seasonal basis to work at jobs, such as greeting-card specialists, cosmetic
    consultants, photo supervisors, and pharmacists. This program helps
    CVS/pharmacy to manage the swell of business in warm climate stores during
    the winter months.” Source: PR Newswire

    (I’m not affiliated with CVS, but interviewed a pharmacist for one of my books who was involved in this program.)

    Jan Cullinane, author, The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley)

    by Jan Cullinane — October 18, 2015

  9. I am interested in knowing more about the ESL online certification course mentioned by Sharon Cole above, however have noted the posting is three years old. Does anyone have information on this or something similar?

    by Paula St. John — October 19, 2015

  10. I recently read that retirees who have worked in the medical professions will probably be able to find work because there is a lack of trained, experienced nurses, doctors, and other health professionals and support staff. With the Boomers getting older, there will also be a large patient population that will need care. I also read that the workforce will have a lack of trained and educated workers in a variety of areas due to lower birth rates in generations coming after the Boomers, so the thought was that there would be work for retirees. I don’t know, but I must work during retirement, and I hope that my ecclectic job history will be an asset for me.

    by Elaine C. — October 19, 2015

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