Seven Post-Retirement Side Hustles That Offer More Than Money

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The conversation around retirement is usually centered around money—whether you’ll have enough, what “enough” even means, and how to plan ahead for unexpected financial needs like home repairs or health issues. Side hustles in retirement are usually discussed the same way: How much can you earn?

But when you’re retired, side hustles aren’t necessarily 100% about the money. For one thing, if Social Security is a big part of your retirement plan, there’s an upper limit on how much you can earn without those benefits being penalized. For another, retirement itself isn’t all about money. If you’re not careful, you can find retirement to be a boring, lonely period of your life where your physical and mental health declines—but the right side hustle can help defend against those problems.

Side hustle benefits

Aside from bringing in a little cash, side hustles can offer a range of benefits for anyone navigating their retirement:

  • Hobbies and passions. Pursuing hobbies and passion projects can be a strong defense against depression, especially in older people. While diving into hobbies just for pleasure is just as effective, finding side hustles that monetize your hobbies and interests can offer an even greater sense of purpose.

  • Physical fitness. Staying physically active has a long list of benefits for older people (including vastly reduced healthcare costs over the course of their retirement). Side hustles that require physical activity can help keep you moving.

  • Social contact. We have a tendency to become lonelier after age 60, for a variety of reasons—including the loss of social circles we had at our jobs. A side hustle can bring back that “work family,” or just put us in contact with people on a regular basis.

Sure, side-hustle cash is also great—and often necessary. But choosing the right retirement side hustle can offer these other benefits as well. Here are some of the best choices.

Part-time retail

Retirees doing retail work is something of a cliché, but retail work can offer consistent social contact with people. Seeing people every day strengthens your connection to your local community while also giving you a sense of purpose as you help your neighbors solve problems or navigate their own lives. And finding a retail job that capitalizes on the skills you developed during your working life (retired tradespeople working at hardware stores, for example) can allow you to continue to do the work you enjoy and benefit from your skills and experience.

Pet sitting or walking

If you find yourself sitting around your house, bored and lonely, both your mental and physical health will suffer. Studies have shown that owning a pet offers powerful emotional and mental benefits, but pets can also be expensive to support.

Working as a pet sitter or dog walker can bring you the emotional benefits of interacting with adorable animals without the cost, with the added benefit of introducing more physical activity (one survey found that dog owners walk their dogs an average of 30 miles a week). Sites like Rover or Wag make it easy to jump into this side hustle, and thus easy to bring some companionship and physical activity into your life.

Local tour guide

You know your community better than anyone, so why not boost your social interaction and get some exercise while you’re at it? Sites like ToursByLocals need local folks who can lead guided tours of their area, so you can meet new people, share your knowledge and experience, and stay in shape with a lot of walking and other activities.

Career coaching

You spent decades cultivating skills and experience in your profession, and there are plenty of people who could benefit from that. If you’re having trouble making connections, if your skill set was your hobby and passion, becoming a career coach could be a way of having more personal connection and keeping your passions burning. Sites like Hire Club are looking for experienced, accomplished people to help their clients reach the next level in their careers, so it could be a great way to feel valued and feel like you’re making an impact by mentoring others.

Tutoring

If career coaching isn’t your bag, or your skills aren’t aligned with corporate ladder-climbers, another way to boost your social circles while applying your hard-won knowledge and skills to a side hustle is tutoring. Sites like Tutors.com let you sign up to find tutoring options in your area, and people are always looking for tutors to help them or their kids master different subjects, so your local Craigslist or a simple Google search can lead you to tutoring gigs. And sites like italki have options for folks without teaching certificates to be a language tutor. Either way, tutoring connects you with a variety of different people and lets you pursue your passions for a little extra money.

Gardening

If you have a green thumb and find yourself lacking in the physical activity department, taking on seasonal work as a gardener or landscaper can keep you fit while letting you indulge your passions. Whether you were a gardening or landscaping professional during your working life or just an inspired amateur with a backyard filled with gorgeous plants, this is a side hustle that will keep you moving.

Renting out a room

If physical activity isn’t the problem, but feeling isolated is, renting out a room or an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) can bring in rent money as well as the comfort of a roommate. Sites like Nesterly specifically connect older homeowners with younger renters, with the former offering a break on the rent in exchange for some chores. That can be a comfort if you’re finding keeping up with your housekeeping more of a challenge, but it can also lead to true friendships and unexpected social connections.

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