How to make money in retirement
Money expert, financial journalist, TV and radio personality
Last reviewed 20th October 2023
10 min read
Who doesn’t like making money? It doesn’t matter what stage of life you’re at – making money makes us all smile!
And the really good news is that there are lots of (often rather fun) ways to make money in retirement and the benefits are not just financial.
Why work in retirement?
Study after study shows that if you want to live longer, be healthier and, frankly, have more of a life, working after retirement is one of the best things you can do.
The 2007 MacArthur Study of Successful Ageing(www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov opens in a new tab) found that people who felt useful in their seventies were significantly less likely to develop health problems than those who didn’t.
And one study in France(www.reuters.com opens in a new tab) suggests that working longer can lower the risk of developing dementia.
Admittedly, there are many retirees who have to work because they have low savings. In July 2022, research found the number of over 50s in work was at the highest it's been since before the pandemic(restless.co.uk opens in a new tab), due to the cost of living crisis. But this situation can be turned into a positive if it forces us to work and ‘stay in life’.
Another good reason to work after retirement age is that you don’t have to pay National Insurance when you’re eligible for your state pension(www.gov.uk opens in a new tab), so you get to keep more of your earnings!
So, the only thing you need to do now is work out what you’re going to do to make that lovely extra cash. This article will give you a few ideas.
Stay in your current job
One straightforward way to make money in retirement is simply by continuing to do the job you are currently doing. Thanks to anti-age-discrimination laws, if you want to stay working in your current job you can do so until you decide you want to retire.
Also, your employer is not allowed to probe you about when you are thinking of retiring or to suggest that it is time you thought about retiring. If they start ‘flapping the cushions’ you can report them to your union and it’s even the sort of issue you could take to an employment tribunal.
On the other hand, if you would actually like to slow down rather than stop around retirement age, you could discuss with your employer the possibility of continuing on a part-time basis as a sort of ‘halfway house’, easing you into retirement.
That way you keep active and keep the work routine and social contact but have time at home too. Employers don’t have to accommodate this but if you don’t ask you don’t get, so give it a go.
New ways to make money
But it’s more likely that at this stage you will be wanting to try something new. So, what would you actually like to do to make money now?
There are all kinds of ways in which you could make pin-money or a full salary, depending on what your skills and interests are, so it’s worth sitting back and actually thinking about what you can do and what you would like to try to do for money.
For a start there are lots of nice little side-earners that you could take up to bring more cash in and stay connected with society. Here are some ideas:
Rent out a room or parking space
Whether you are mortgage-free or not, it’s always helpful to get your home to make money for you! The first, obvious way is to rent out a spare room.
One handy thing about renting a room is that the first £7,500 of income is tax-free. It does mean sharing your home with a stranger, but you could start by asking friends and then friends of friends to rent.
If that doesn’t work then sites like Gumtree.com(opens in a new tab) and Spareroom.co.uk(opens in a new tab) are good for finding renters. If you don’t like the idea of someone being there full-time then try MondaytoFriday.com(opens in a new tab) where you just get people who need a place to stay during weekdays.
Another way to use your spare room, but not have to put up with the same person all the time, is to rent it to foreign students at your local language school as they usually stay for no longer than six weeks at a time.
Look for your local establishments at ialc.org(opens in a new tab) which has a list of language schools around the UK. Or you could rent it to tourists through Airbnb(www.airbnb.co.uk opens in a new tab). That way you meet lots of different people, usually just for a few nights at a time.
Then there’s your other space. If you have a garage or driveway that you don’t use, but you live somewhere near a station or sporting venue, you could rent them out as parking spaces for drivers. Try Parklet.co.uk(opens in a new tab) or JustPark.com(opens in a new tab) to advertise your space.
Alternatively, you could also rent out the garage – and indeed your loft – as storage space for local people. Try Spareground.co.uk(opens in a new tab) to advertise it.
Be a film or TV extra
Another great asset you can use is the spare time you have. For example, if you’re free during the week and you live in or near a major city, it’s likely that you could work as a film extra and make around £100 a day just for sitting around.
Join an extras agency but be careful as there are some dodgy ones around. The agencies Casting Collective(www.castingcollective.co.uk opens in a new tab) and Ray Knight(www.rayknight.co.uk opens in a new tab) are good but if you want to try any others, check reviews online before you hand over any money.
Take part in research
Other nice little earners, if you have a bit of time to spare, are taking part in focus groups, such as those run by Sarosresearch.com(opens in a new tab), and mystery shopping which doesn’t pay much but can involve free trips to restaurants and bars, among other adventures.
Again, you have to be careful which agency you sign up with. The agencies JKS Mystery Shopping(www.jksmysteryshopping.co.uk opens in a new tab), ESA(www.esa-retail.co.uk opens in a new tab) and Grass Roots(www.grassrootsmysteryshopping.com opens in a new tab) can be trusted but don’t sign up with any agency that asks for money as all proper mystery shopping agencies should be free to join.
Use your skills to make money
Now this is where it gets really interesting. By now you will have all sorts of skills, although you might not immediately recognise them as skills.
For example, you may be a parent, and even grandparent now, so you have a lot of child-caring skills which could be monetised in a childminding business, or nannying (many parents are eager to have a more mature person looking after their child) or being a doula (someone who looks after new mothers).
All of these occupations can be operated through agencies or as an independent. Job ads from private individuals and agencies are available in The Lady magazine(lady.co.uk opens in a new tab), on Gumtree(www.gumtree.com opens in a new tab) and at NurseryWorld.co.uk(opens in a new tab).
Or maybe you’re a great cook and can bake cakes to sell at car boot sales, local shops and farmers’ markets. Same with jams, sweets and biscuits. Or you you’re good enough to be hired as a chef for dinner parties (maybe expand after a while by offering waiters and wines to go with the meal).
If you speak a language, play an instrument well or have other artistic or educational skills you could teach them.
For musical instruments and other artistic endeavours you can advertise your lessons – either single or group – around your neighbourhood.
Stick some flyers through doors and use word-of-mouth to get the message out. For academic subjects you could work through a tutoring agency, either face-to-face or online.
Manual and freelance work
People with DIY skills or computer skills are so much in demand that they can work as many hours as they like. Everyone needs someone to fix problems around the house or to fix their computers. When it comes to fixing computers you can do it for local people and also for those a long way away via remote-working software like TeamViewer.com(opens in a new tab).
Similarly, those with secretarial or administration experience can work as a Virtual Assistant (VA), doing everything from bookkeeping to dictation to event organisation for small businesses around the world. You can find out more about how to run a VA business at Societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk(opens in a new tab).
MoneyMagpie.com has an article with more ideas for ways retirees can make money(www.moneymagpie.com opens in a new tab).
Get skilled-up to make money
Do be aware that you will have more choice of good, well-paid work if you keep up with new technologies. It’s really worthwhile getting some training in skills such as using Excel spreadsheets, running social media accounts and even basic coding, if you want to get really good work.
It’s not always essential to have these skills but if you’re looking to be hired by others, and certainly if you’re wanting to run your own business, it really, really helps to be on top of some of the new technologies.
Some high street banks run free courses in computing so check with yours. Also, of course, there are a lot of evening classes in using new technology including Excel spreadsheets, creating a website, using social media and coding. Some professional associations and unions also run training courses for their members so check those out.
Start your own business
Now is a great time to start that full-time business you have been dreaming of doing. You might even have an idea that you want to set up with your partner.
The field is wide-open when it comes to creating your own start-up, and the good news is that studies have shown that businesses set up by people over 50 are less likely to fail than those set up by younger people.
According to an MIT report(www.kellogg.northwestern.edu opens in a new tab) ‘Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship’, a 50-year-old founder “is 1.8 times more likely to achieve upper-tail growth than a 30-year-old one” Not bad eh?
What would your business be?
The question is, what would that business be? One obvious one for retirees is to set yourself up as a consultant in whatever your field of labour has been.
If you were in PR, for example, you could continue as a one-man band, or even set up your own consultancy with employees. Same for marketing, sales and general business management.
Or you could go in a completely different direction. Maybe you’ve been a teacher or a nurse but you have a great love of, and knowledge of, antiques, now will be a great time to set up a business buying and selling antiques online and at markets.
Or perhaps you love yoga and want to teach that, or you would like to set up a recruitment agency providing teachers, nannies, carers or technicians. The field is wide-open. You could even pick one of the side-earners above and turn it into a full-time business.
Get help setting up your business
However, if you are completely new to running a business, get as much help with your start-up as possible so that you give yourself the greatest chance to succeed. You could start with the following websites:
- Gov.uk(www.gov.uk opens in a new tab) – there is a lot of information for small businesses here including access to funding and basic information on how to run a business.
- HMRC.gov.uk(www.gov.uk opens in a new tab) – if you haven’t worked for yourself before or run a business there are quite a few tax elements you will need to know about, particularly if you end up employing other people. Find out from the HMRC website what paperwork you need to keep and what rules you will need to follow.
- Enterprisenation.com(opens in a new tab) – this website is dedicated to helping small businesses around the UK and runs training sessions for entrepreneurs.
- Startups.co.uk(opens in a new tab) – does what it says on the tin: it’s a website that helps start-ups get going, find financial support and become successful.
Whatever field of labour you choose to make money in your retirement, make sure it’s one you enjoy. Life is for living and money-earners are part of that life. Make them work for you!
Jasmine Birtles is a TV financial expert and the founder of MoneyMagpie.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Jasmine and on Instagram at @Jasminebirtles.