If you haven’t saved enough money to live how you want, or you just plain want to continue to develop as a person as you get older, you must consider a side hustle.
Side hustles for older adults can solve many of the concerns that come with getting older, including giving up steady income at retirement, isolation from children leaving home, and feeling as though you’ve passed your prime.
Some of the best side hustles for older adults include starting a website on a topic of interest, consulting in an area of expertise, or providing services in which you’re skilled. Such side hustles can gain momentum by overlapping, such as offering consulting or services from a website you’ve established. Side hustles can also be hobby centered and done locally, such as home maintenance, home staging, or photography.
Over the past 15 years, I have been working side hustles along with my husband, Larry, after we discovered that relying only on income from stocks and bonds for life was not the road we wanted to take. Aside from low interest rates and dividend yields, there were just too many unknowns in the form of bear markets, inflation, taxes, politics, and rising health care costs.
While we are fortunate to enjoy income from more traditional real estate rentals and stocks, we fell in love with side hustles due to the wonderful opportunity they give to continue to grow as older adults while also developing new and highly marketable skills.
In this post, I’ll share what we learned firsthand about this fantastic game changer for older adults seeking to start one or more side hustles.
What Is a Side Hustle Exactly?
A side hustle, also known as a gig, is commonly referred to as work outside of employment. For older adults who are preparing for retirement, or already retired, I define a side hustle as anything that generates extra income outside of employment, typical investment income from stocks, bonds, annuities, or social security.
This means side hustles can be anything from learning a new skill so you increase investment returns, to dog training, to selling ads on your blog, to business consulting, and everything in between.
While the younger generations started capitalizing on side hustles with their naturally acquired technology skills over the past decade, more and more, smart older adults are capitalizing on side hustles to be able to retire comfortably.
In fact, nearly one third of those who produce income from side hustles only are baby boomers, according to a Prudential study.
Best Side Hustles for Older Adults
The best side hustles for older adults are the ones that meet their needs and desires. While this may sound impractical and somewhat existential, it’s very true and here’s why.
By the time you’re older, you know what you like to do, and you probably know how to make money doing it. Writing as an older adult, we’ve often lived a lifetime doing more of what we thought we had to do instead of what we really wanted to do.
What I’ve learned is that it is at least as hard to do something you don’t really want to do just for the security or money as it is to do something you really enjoy, so we may as well go for the thing we enjoy at this point in life.
In the Prudential study on side hustles, almost half, or 46% of those over 56 who worked side hustles said they are working gigs to make ends meet. This implies the other half are working gigs because they enjoy it.
This enjoyment is further revealed with the fact that 75% of those older adults with side hustles said they like their work and have no desire to change it.
A whopping 86% go so far as to say that they get much enjoyment and pleasure from their side gigs while only 32% indicated that they were struggling financially.
With this in mind, below is the criteria that I think is most important to find the best side hustle for you personally.
How Much Money Can You Make from Side Hustles?
Since having enough money to live how you want is a primary driver for finding the right side hustle for you, let’s start by clarifying how much money you want to make from your side hustle.
Before your head goes to multiplying $15 an hour by 10 hours a week, let’s think much bigger. Let’s consider the internet where you can serve the entire world, if you desire, with little to no money.
For example, consider 8 year old Ryan Kaji who made $26 million in 2019 alone from his YouTube channel according to Forbes. The channel is based on a child unwrapping toys for heaven’s sake! (Fellow older adults, we’ve got this!)
I speak to online business firsthand, albeit on a much smaller scale. Over the past decade, for example, we have made multiple 7 figures in revenue from our online businesses. I don’t say this to brag but to demonstrate that making extra money from side hustles as older adults is very doable.
So, think somewhere between $150 a week (10 hours times $15) and $26 million a year in deciding how much money you want to make from a side hustle. This will steer you in the right direction and save you from exploring side hustles that don’t meet your needs.
Note that the Prudential study on side gigs also found that Boomers, or people over 56, had average annual income of $43,600 from working side hustles only.
Choose a Side Hustle That Suits Your Personality
Enjoying life is as important as money in my humble opinion. So, you’ll want to choose a side hustle based on your personality so you can enjoy your work and your life.
Home Based Business Side Hustles
If like me, you tend to be more of an introvert, you’ll probably enjoy a home based business more than one that requires constant networking. Home based businesses often include outsourcing your skills, such as writing, coding, or graphic design, for example.
The good thing is that by the time you’re an older adult, you’ve probably got quite a few skills from which you can choose to focus.
Keep in mind, however, that you’re competing with a global market for outsourced skills with home based side hustles. If your skill makes $100 an hour in the US, for example, it may pay $15 an hour in other countries due to the lower cost of living there.
You can work around this in several ways in order to make the amount that is paid in a higher priced market, such as the U.S., if you live in one.
- Get referrals from friends and family and display them on your website to increase perceived reliability
- Do local networking, at least initially, to get established
- Find customers on apps such as nextdoor.com
- Use LinkedIn to offer your expertise
- Brand yourself in a way that your local market needs and only you can deliver
Side Hustles for Extroverts
If you love being around other people, good ideas for side hustles include work like those listed below.
- Event Planning
- Business Consulting
- Pet Training
- Sports Training (Golf, Snow Skiing, Fitness)
The potential list is endless and you can be as creative as your market allows.
How Much Capital Is Needed to Start a Side Hustle?
The amount of money you want to spend toward your side hustle will also be a primary element in choosing an ideal side hustle for you personally.
Most side hustles require little or no capital to launch. For example, starting a blog, consulting, and outsourcing side hustles require no capital assuming you already have basic computer equipment and internet.
By my definition, again, side hustles can also include generating extraordinary income from your capital. Examples of this include buying an online business, selling covered calls, or purchasing rental properties. These hustles require capital.
In general, the more time you need to spend, the less money you’ll need to put into your side hustle. This is one of the core principles the wealthy use to build more wealth which allows them to leverage by acting as the orchestra conductor vs the saxophone player.
Limited or Unlimited Side Hustle Income
While this sounds a little crazy, some side hustles have almost unlimited income. You can make very good money consulting, but you can only make so much money consulting at an hourly rate.
On the other hand, the kid (or, more likely, his parents) who created the YouTube videos unboxing toys has almost created unlimited income. The more people his videos reach, the more money he makes with the same amount of work.
In other words, his content is being leveraged across multiple markets and probably platforms. Decide if leveraging is important to you in choosing your side hustle while keeping in mind that many businesses that began as a simple consulting business went on to generate millions of dollars after applying leverage.
Note that consulting can be a perfect way to test your side hustle idea quickly and easily. You can tweak it if needed, or run with it if it works as you thought it would and scale online when the time is right.
Side Hustles for Older Adults Summary
One of my many mentors shared that when he plays golf at an exclusive country club in California, after learning he is an entrepreneur, fellow golfers frequently indicate an eagerness to return to business because they are bored.
Many of us are happier with some form of work, contrary to popular expectations.
You may have read my story here where I tried to retire on the island of Bermuda with my husband in my early 30’s. Desperate for the stimulation I had gotten from my career life, I turned that energy toward investing as a replacement for career work.
This was years before the internet. But since the birth of the internet, the opportunities for older adults to make money with a side hustle are endless for anyone seeking to make extra income while experiencing life richer.
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