Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earning Extra Money In Retirement-It's Not Always About the "Work"

As most of the regular visitors to this blog know, I need to bring in some extra income each month to keep me going at my current level.  I share this with the folks who stop by here, blogging about my income streams as well as my finances.  Occasionally I get comments about how I manage it.  I also hear comments from folks from both sides-those who worry that they may have to do the same, and those who thank their stars that they never will.

Current discussions on retirement often mention the necessity of never being able to stop working, of having less than a traditional retirement because of poor finances and all kinds of other doom and gloom. I don't want to pooh-pooh those articles. There many folks retiring on less than they hoped much earlier than they have planned.  Many of them (us) may have to continue working on some level. There are also certainly retirees living in poverty and struggling.

That said, a discussion about work after retirement (at least in my case) would not be complete without two observations:

The first point that needs to be made is this. My retirement life is not about work, nor does work consume my life.  I sometimes think that when people see themselves working after retirement, its just at a different desk in a different place, for the same number of hours. While I suppose that for some people that might be an option, for most of us that will not be what it's about. For many retirees, it's about finding a way to bring in income here and there to make ends meet, rather than "working".

As I've said before, I am an extremely laid back gal.  While I admire, say, Tamara's energy, my day will hardly ever look like hers. That said, my life as a retiree is full. I rarely get up before nine (although I am trying to get up earlier during the summer to get things done in the cool of the day).  Twice this week I have stayed up past two am reading because I decided I simply had to finish the book. I spend an hour in the pool at least five days a week. I take two college courses each semester-primarily for fun. I volunteer a half day a week. I go to lunch with friends. I generally take at least one day excursion with an overnight a month, and three one to three week trips a year. This year I am considering adding a cruise next winter. I work in the garden and sometimes just sit on the patio and watch the dogs. I go to the movies during the day because it is cheaper. I have been known to stop what I was doing and simply sit thinking or day dreaming in the middle of the day. While I've been meaning to write a post on "getting things done in retirement", I'll share here that I generally have a few projects a week and consider the rest of my week as mine.

In other words, my "work" is just a small part of a normal retirement day, month and year. Admittedly my work is a bit more flexible than say, Syd's part time gig in that (I assume) she was going to a fixed place of employment.  Even so, most part time retirement jobs or income streams are often the type that fit into, rather than take over your retirement lifestyle. In my "circle" of acquaintances who work in retirement, one works as a Walmart greeter (and believe me he LOVES the socialization). A friend from church caters small luncheons and weddings, about one a month or so.  A neighbor works either one or two weekend nursing shifts a month. My own sister the green thumb works in a garden store on weekends during the summer and at Joanne crafts during the Christmas rush.  My friend the nurse?  Her husband drives a school bus for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. He has the summer and all school holidays off and the rest of his day free. My neighbor the accountant works like crazy from January through April and lives the traditional retirement lifestyle the rest of the time.  A blogger friends substitute teaches on occasion and another does medical transcription from home when the mood strikes. None of these folks consider their retirements "ruined". Rather, they are bringing in some casual income now to make life easier in the long term.

I have more than one income stream and still manage to live the lifestyle I described above. As I said before, I'm not a to-do list or a schedule girl. Generally if I am not traveling I plan a project a day and if it doesn't get done, well...........then I go back to it a day or so later. This means that a couple days a week as the mood strikes I sit down and sew my heart out until I am willing to sew no more. I spend a few hours during the week managing online sales, and a weekend a month (for half the year) sitting in a craft booth selling my wares. I also spend time online doing research for businesses-usually less than an hour per day average and when I feel the mood to do so. While I understand that some out there may consider me a worker rather than a retiree, I would suggest that I'm a retiree who works on occasion to make her retirement better.  What more could I ask for?

The second point to make about income streams is this-If I stopped bringing in extra income tomorrow, I would be would be okay. Would my lifestyle change?  Absolutely. Most of the reason I work is to be able to maintain my not mortgage free 2300 square foot house. Without extra income, I would move to a condo or even a nice rental (although never a trailer-sorry folks!). I would adjust my traveling habit to exclude cruises and include more local low cost vacations.  I would give up visiting movie theaters and redbox would become my friend. I would no longer eat out once a month.  Even with those changes, I would still have a healthy, active, full retirement.

The point of this post is not to discourage people from saving or planning for retirement. Both are important. I am blessed to be one of those people still getting a pension as well as social security. In other words, my situation may be different from yours. Still, even those worker-ant savers among us have had financial losses, and folks who have been forced into early retirement are realizing that the best laid plans are just that-plans. My point is that if your retirement is different than you hoped, and if you have to bring in some income for a few more years-well, all is not lost.

So take a deep breath, look at where you are, and realize that yes, you can have your retirement lifestyle and earn income as well.


  1. Thanks for this post Barbara. It gives a very clear picture of the lifestyle you have built. It sounds pretty good to me.You are encouraging at a time where there is too much doom and gloom.

  2. Thanks for this post! Out of all the things you mentioned, the one thing that I am really looking forward to (in retirement) is "I have been known to stop what I was doing and simply sit thinking or day dreaming in the middle of the day". Similar to you, and for the same reasons, I will find some type of work in my retirement. Thanks again.

  3. I think a little work at retirment is a good idea, who couldn't use a little extra cash without the regular 9 to 5 deal. Hubby hopes to be able to tinker with some things, he can fix anything, me maybe some sewing to help justify my sewing habit. Great post!

  4. Barbara - you made me laugh!

    It's all about doing what makes you happy. My nickname here at home is Tigger, because my family claims I bounce-bounce-bounce all the day long.

    Continue to live your life YOUR way! :-)

  5. Yours is the sort of retirement I envision for myself--my field has a lot of opportunities to volunteer or take cases piece-meal for pay, but not with a caseload or at the pay rate I've currently got from my employer.

    Matinees! I am so looking forward to those!

  6. I plan to find a little something to do when I retire though I haven't figured out quite what that will be or look like yet. We're thinking of many different things - a B&B yurt, raising chickens and goats, part-time job (I like the idea of being a bus-driver, hadn't thought of that one!), I could supply teach though I don't think I'll want to but who knows, sell my own artistic creations (I carve in wood and soapstone) etc etc. Or perhaps I can make some income with my blog or other types of writing. For me it's about keeping the mind active and making pocket money so my income will stretch a bit further. It seems like an opportunity to do something I WANT, WHEN I WANT and for AS LONG AS I WANT.

    1. Great post! I hope it is okay for me to add a reply here - I am new to this. When I saw your post, I wanted to add my 2 cents.
      Being able to purse something that inspires me or makes me feel good - while not being tied down to a strict schedule really appeals to me I like the feeling of being active, vital and productive - and hopefully a help to others.

  7. I like your point -- that work fits into your life rather than the other way around. However, people should know that this kind of part-time work doesn't bring in much income. It's only one leg of the many-legged stool of financial security. Btw, thanks for adding me to your blog list -- and I've added you to my roster of "More Grownup Voices." Keep on blogging!

  8. Scott, this is something I do all the time..................just stop and sit in the middle of what I am doing. lol

  9. sightings, that can be true, but depending on what you do, the amount can be quite a bit. My friend the nurse who is willing to work do weekend evening shifts for example, makes alot of money.

    I guess I really don't think think most retirees need a lot of money to make a difference-I think most of us need some income for the extras. I agree about the multiple approach, and thanks for adding me to your blog roll.

  10. Hello, Barb I agree with your thoughts. Having added income for the extras is a luxury I hope to indulge. I like having enough 'regular' money to be comfortable and be able to make a difference in the world arounf me.

  11. Making money online used to pretty much require you to have your own Web site, products to sell, and some marketing savvy. luckofleaf


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