Monday, November 21, 2011

My Retirement Income Streams: Sucesses and Failures

Life is full of ups and downs.  When I decided to accept the fact that I was probably permanently  retired (like it or not), I knew that I would have to create some income somewhere. I wanted to both rebuild savings where there was (is, really) none. I also wanted to increase my monthly income a bit to include travel and other expenses.  My goal was to do that by creating various income streams.  I figured that a few small streams were better than putting all my eggs in one proverbial business basket.  That has only been partially true. You win some and you lose some.

My first idea was to turn my quilting hobby into a business. I wrote here, about my experiences in this area.  There have certainly been challenges.  Growth has been slower than I would like, primarily because I need more outlets. In other words, I need to stop relying on Etsy and get my own web page and look at spring craft fairs. On the other hand, there have been obvious successes. Someone hired me to make twenty five sets of quilted potholders to give to all her employees.  Another person saw my quilts and ordered a custom item. I believe that by learning to market this business to the proper audience it will succeed. I've found that I still enjoy quilting "for me", when I have the time.  Quilting fits into my lifestyle in that it's a primarily at home job that I can do on my previously mentioned "no schedule" schedule.

My second idea, buying and "reselling"  has not taken off the ground, in the truest sense. Again, it has been a learning experience. I've needed to learn where to sell (I'm trying to use EBay as a last resort), what sells, and for how much. I also need to be much braver about taking buying risks. I recently bought five boxes of vintage sewing patterns for ten dollars. I have to take risks like this-the worse that can happen is I resell at a yard sale. I still keep this business in my back pocket, for similar reasons to the quilting business above. I like treasure hunting at thrifts and yard sales. It's a business mainly done at home, on my own time and on my own terms.

My last idea was to start a errand/concierge business.  The business that took the most start up effort, in terms of time and money, is the one that has been least successful.  I'm sure this falls under the law of reverse return, or something. Why?? Partially because I let it die.  Running an errand service required leaving the house (dressed in a certain manner) on a regular basis. It often involved shopping which I do not love (unless it's at thrift stores and flea markets).  My phone had to be on all the time, and in order to be successful, I had to go to Chamber of Commerce events and do "marketing". That, put simply, is not me.  Add to that fact the current economy issues, and there you are.  These days people wrap their own gifts instead of paying others.  They can't afford to have someone pick up their prescriptions and dry cleaning for them.  Money and time down the drain, but I'm much happier with the business off my back.

The end result is that money has not been tricking in quite as fast or as often as I would have liked. On the other hand, the future looks good.  The two growing businesses are those that are flexible and work around my lifestyle. Neither specifically require a large investment, business insurance or other expenses (quilting requires fabric, but I have piles and that is built into item cost, before profit).  I can do both wherever I go, when I feel like it.  And neither of them will ever (thankfully) be a real job.

Work till I'm seventy?  Not me?  Life is just too much fun. So I'll continue to trim and downsize where it doesn't hurt.  I'll also add funds through what one blogger called the "side hustle" and in the end, life is good.  As always.


  1. For me, personally, I think eBay is too much trouble. I had a little bit of success with Craigs List have to meet the person and exchange cash money and for that, I like my husband to be around. So, even that had it's limitations.

    For the past few months, I used local consignment shops to sell stuff. It worked out well the first month, but after that, it's rare to get anything sold. Very disappointing. But I think it's because no one has any money to even buy consignment goods. So, I just donate my stuff now to Goodwill or the local hospital thrift shop. At least I am helping others.

    You are very fortunate people love your quilting. That's where you should aim all your concentration.

    I'm sewing up gifts for my family but I don't think anyone would be convinced to pay me for my designs. :)

    At least I am having fun!

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    You are the most influential blogger to me. You are very wise and give great advice. I'm thankful to you for that.

  2. Morrison, I know somepeople get nervous. I have never, ever had problem with craiglist. I even allowed someone in my house once when my son was have to let someone try a sewing machine after all. I just go and meet people in a parking lot somewhere and have no problem at all. Im not willing to consign and lose any money. But I am not selling stuff in my house, I am buying to resell.

  3. Interesting post as I have been thinking about what I could do to generate some income when I retire. I haven't really had any brilliant ideas yet lol! Like you I don't want to commit myself to a schedule or work for someone else. I will be living in the country also so that limits the possibilities somewhat. We have tossed the idea of a B&B around but that industry is highly regulated these days.
    I'll keep thinking...


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