Dreams of retirement usually conjure up images of beach vacations, time tinkering with hobbies and ample visits from friends and family. Unfortunately, for many people, those dreams do not turn into a reality.
The traditional retirement of a generation ago looks very different today. Many retirees do not have a company pension and health care, sufficient savings or adequate Social Security to fund their golden years. According to the 2014 Retirement Confidence Survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute, only 18 percent of workers are very confident they have enough money for a comfortable retirement, and 36 percent say they have less than $1,000 in savings and investments.
The future of retirement may look bleak, but just because you jumped out of the workforce doesn’t mean you can’t still earn an income. With a little creativity and a lot of drive, there are plenty of ways to bring home a little bacon. Here are a few ideas:
1. Get a Flexible or Home-Based Job
Many retirees can find work through sites that specialize in part-time, home-based employment, perfect for older workers. “Working from home is quickly becoming a solid option for retirees because it eliminates the things we all dislike most about work — commuting, and office politics,” said Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs. “There are also onsite projects, so if someone wants to get out of the house for work, this is a great option, too. Remote or telecommuting jobs can be found in almost every career field.
“Some telecommuting jobs recently listed include internet assessor, at-home [English as a second language] teacher and virtual assistant, and some of the more interesting freelance projects we’ve seen listed include photo researcher, content editor and medical interpreter.”
Related: 42 Ways to Save for Retirement
2. Become a Consultant
Many entrepreneurs and small business owners need advice and help from consultants who work on an hourly basis. If you’re an expert in your field, a consulting business can bring in extra income and still give you the flexibility you crave during retirement.
“Consultants and the expertise they bring are in demand,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. Businesses are working with these professionals to access specialized expertise, support key projects and help their full-time employees.”
To start a consulting business, “tap your network for their thoughts and referrals,” he said. “Also consider working with a staffing firm specializing in placing experienced professionals. The firm can handle the marketing and administrative aspects of consulting for you and allow you to do what you enjoy most: the work.”
3. Pursue a Passion
Plenty of people turn their passions into careers, and retirees are no exception. Ed Snyder of Oaktree Financial Advisors said he has several clients who have turned their interests into side jobs during retirement. “I have a client who was a decorator, and in her retirement she works for a local retailer helping them to design and layout their store displays. She loves the work.”
Retirees don’t need to limit themselves to what they did in their previous careers, either. “I have a client who retired in his 50s who loves golf,” he said. “He picked up a part-time job at a golf course helping around the pro shop. He gets to pick up some extra cash and do what he loves. Tell me he doesn’t look forward to going into work every day.”
4. Help and Serve Others
Some of your fellow retirees and other people need help with basic services. “The very oldest among us will need increasing help and support,” said Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “For those who want to remain independent, having a person to help with errands, driving, personal hygiene and other activities will become essential.”
Other senior-friendly jobs include dog walking, house sitting and tutoring. “The prospect of working beyond the age of 62 or 65 is fast becoming a reality,” he added. “People are living longer, healthier lives and realizing that work is central to maintaining a sense of purpose and joy.”
5. Participate in Market Research
Yes, you can get paid for having an opinion. Many companies hire market research firms to poll consumers about their products and services. These research firms often offer cash or gift cards in exchange for your time.
David Bakke, finance expert at MoneyCrashers, recommends Delve or Focus Pointe Global. “Sign up for an account and from time to time you’ll get email questionnaires to complete, or sometimes you’ll be called on the telephone. If your answers qualify, you’ll be asked to participate in a test group or panel discussion, and you can make as much as $100 for just several hours of your time.”
Related: 28 Retirement Mistakes People Make
6. Cash in on the Sharing Economy
In the sharing economy, owners can rent out something they are not using. If you don’t drive very often or own more than one vehicle, you can rent your car out through a website like RelayRides. You can list your home for rent on a website like VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or Airbnb. On sites like JustPark and StowThat, homeowners can rent out parking spots or attic and garage spaces, which can be especially lucrative if you live in a city where storage is hard to come by. And speaking of renting out extra space…
7. Build a Small Rental Unit
This kind of project doesn’t have to be as complicated or as expensive as it sounds. “Many houses are well-suited to be modified without too much expense to include an autonomous rental apartment,” said Joanne Cleaver, author of “The Career Lattice.” “The rent is great extra income, and the homeowners will save on taxes through pro rata write-offs of certain expenses. Just be sure to check with your home insurer first about maintaining coverage, or find a new insurer that will meet your new needs.” Also remember to follow zoning and other laws.
If you aren’t crazy about dealing with the hassle of managing a rental unit, you might want to consider hiring a property management company. You’ll sacrifice some of your profit, but it could eliminate a lot of headaches.