Entering the Retirement Grey Zone can be wonderfully exhilarating – you’re taking a step closer to full retirement and away from full-time career life. But, some level of work may still be on your immediate horizon. Get creative in where you send your resumes or how you plan to snag that extra income.
I want to share some of the side hustles and jobs that I’ve come across in working with my clients over the past few months, particularly those that are “outside the box” of traditional work. Because I learned of these several imaginative ways to make money in just a dozen weeks or so, I’m sure the list is just the tip of the iceberg.
Many of the gigs my clients are doing are the best kind – passion-oriented jobs that were born from hobbies or just sheer enjoyment. The vast majority of the folks I spoke with (even those who are retired business owners) reported that their new work is far more rewarding and enjoyable than more traditional corporate setups.
One client in told me a particularly inspiring story. This client has loved woodworking and carving for years. Now, he’s turned his skills into a lucrative income stream, creating custom razor handles. And he doesn’t just sell his creations to friends and family – he has customers all over the globe. Thanks to the world of social media and peer-to-peer marketing on sites like Facebook and Instagram, and the ease of online shopping, my client gets over half of his orders from Asia. Another large chunk goes to a distributor who found out about the razor handles on Instagram.
Here’s the really juicy part – this client makes between $1,000 to $5,000 per month selling his hand-carved razor handles, depending on how much time he wants to put in at the shop on any given day. Oh yeah, and his shop is in his garage.
This is an excellent example of turning a passion (or as I call it, a core pursuit) into a viable income stream. My client works on his own schedule, and he’s doing what he loves.
Here is my list of 11 unique, interesting, flexible ways for folks in the Retirement Grey Zone to kick up some additional cash every month.
1. Custom Razor Handles – Our example goes to show that woodworking is a great hobby and a lucrative skill. Another “Grey Zoner” I know makes handsome wood cutting boards. Metalworking also falls into this category. So, if you’re handy, consider creating crafts that blend artistry with function.
- Potential Income Range: $250 – $2,500 per month
2. Part-Time Fishing Tournaments – This one is also inspired by a client I have who is an avid fisherman and sportsman. And we’re not limited to fishing here – other competitions and sports fall under this category. Admittedly, it’s tough to make money this way unless you are highly skilled; my client is a seasoned, extraordinarily smart fisherman. But there are plenty of other folks who also excel at a particular sport or game who could make money doing it. And some competitions offer prizes toppling the thousand, and even tens of thousands, mark. It may pay to get creative and competitive.
- Potential Income Range: $0 – $5,000 per month
3. Senior Actors – Got a theatrical personality? Think about auditioning to be in a commercial, TV show or movie. Or in the case of Junko Cheng, a music video. (Perhaps you’ve heard of the 57-year-old retiree who recently starred in a Taylor Swift video. It was her first-ever acting gig.) Even if you don’t end up center stage, you could still snag some nice income.
- Potential Income Range: $25 – $100 per hour
4. An Etsy Store – I’m looking at all the crafty DIY’ers out there. Etsy has become a great store and a marketplace for artists to sell their goods. Whether you make custom mailboxes, birdhouse, wind chimes, quilts or horse tack (like my Dad), you can share your talents for a profit. This is especially true during the holiday season when stores like Etsy see their sales perk up.
- Potential Income Range: $100 – $2,000 per month
5. Tutoring – Here, there are big bucks to be had. You can tutor a specific school subject, or help students prepare for standardized tests. The services that will connect you with kids, teens, and college students are prolific, so just do a quick internet search to find a company that needs help with a subject you’re good at.
- Potential Income Range: $35 – $100 per hour
6. Bookkeeping – For the number crunchers out there, consider starting a small bookkeeping business, or look for a company that offers part-time bookkeepers to clients. Paro is one of these companies. You don’t have to commit to a full 40 hours this way; you can just work a few hours a week if and when you want.
- Potential Income Range: $15 – $30 per hour
7. Continuing Education Instructor or Substitute Teacher – If you love helping others learn and have a particular area of skill, either of these could be an excellent option for you. There are tons of places that specialize in learning new skills without enrolling in a degree program. Here in Atlanta, there’s the Emory Center for Lifelong Learning. Online sites like The Learning Annex also provide similar opportunities. You can teach anything from how to play a musical instrument to how to landscape to how to fundraise. As for substitute teaching, this is the perfect opportunity for those of you who love children.
- Potential Income Range: $0 – $20 per hour
8. Costume Design, Art and Murals – This is another opportunity to turn your artistic abilities into pay. Whether you approach the local theater for a design gig, a bustling coffee shop with your painting or photography, or a new hip restaurant for a mural, you could make some extra cash.
- Potential Income Range: $0 – $2,000 per month
9. Transportation – Think Uber. Think a school bus. The sky’s the limit when it comes to driving for pay. This is an especially good gig for folks who like to drive and like interacting with new people.
- Potential Income Range: $10 – $20 per hour
10. Real Estate Agent – You could be a retired agent and still want to work part-time, or this could be a brand-new line of work for you. Of course, you’ll have to meet your state’s requirements for licensing, but if you’re willing to do that, this could be a very lucrative side job.
- Potential Income Range: $0 – $15,000 annually
11. Gigging Musician – One of my clients is a master bluegrass musician. Others are skilled at the piano or guitar. Think about using your musical abilities to make some extra cash. Opportunities abound, like playing with a band, doing corporate events, or even DJ’ing parties, weddings and other events.
- Potential Income Range: $250 – $2,500+ per gig
As you can see, there is a vast range of income here. Tutors can make from $35 to $100 per hour, while senior actors could make several hundred dollars per shoot. One costume designer I work with makes several thousand dollars per costume!
Put all this together, and it’s not inconceivable to earn $1,000 or more per month (and sometimes much more) just doing what you love. While most of these jobs in a part-time fashion won’t make you rich per se, they could help your quest for a rich and happy retirement.