“Unretirees” Rising: Top Side-Hustles for Growing Group

According to a recent survey conducted on behalf of TD Ameritrade, a majority of Americans over age 40 plan to keep working after their retirement age. Perhaps it’s time to get a fun side hustle.

5 min read
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Key Takeaways

  • “Unretirees” looking for part-time work have many choices

  • If you’re working while drawing Social Security, keep an eye on the potential impact to your benefits

For a growing number of people, retirement doesn’t mean not working. Whether they want to stay busy or bring in extra income, more people are planning to work in retirement.

Many “unretirees” are applying skills they learned on the job and implementing them in new fields, taking classes to learn new skills, or turning hobbies into lucrative side gigs. A new survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade showed the majority of Americans age 40 and older plan to continue working in a paid position after retiring.

Though a whopping 92% of workers in their 40s plan to continue working, this phenomenon isn’t limited to young folks—52% of respondents in their 70s plan to keep punching that clock. And nearly 4 in 10 Americans in their 40s and 50s plan to do so even if there’s no financial need.

Looking for your own retirement side hustle? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

First Things First: Creating a Personal Brand

Depending on how much of a side hustle you want, consider creating an online presence that displays your skills. That can be as simple as joining social media groups dedicated to your field or posting your work experience on online resume sites. It’s also become much easier to create personal websites if you’re looking for something a little more professional. You no longer have to know how to code or even have an eye for page design to create your own website, and yearly costs to host a website are reasonable too.

Consider Your Skill Set

Consulting is a quick way to become self-employed. Use your job network to let people know you’re available for consulting gigs, and check out online job sites in your field. You might even consult for your old full-time job. But don’t feel like you have to stick to one field. In the Harris Poll/TD Ameritrade survey, 40% of “unretirees” moved into a position outside the field in which they previously worked. 

When considering your skill set, think broadly. Consider coaching or tutoring. If you’re interested in education, many high schools need substitute teachers. Requirements by school may vary, but most just require a bachelor’s degree in any subject and a background check. Schools have other jobs too, such as teacher’s assistants, library aides, or administrative work.

Make Your Side Hustle Fun

The great thing about working in retirement is the ability to choose what you want to do. Remember: according to the survey, almost four in 10 people in their 40s and 50s plan to continue working in retirement even if there isn’t a financial need. If there’s no financial need to work and you’re doing it for social interaction, to keep your mind sharp, or just to give yourself a reason to get up in the morning, why not have fun while you’re doing it?

Consider working as event staff at concert halls, performing arts venues, or theaters. In addition to catching the show while working, you may get other perks like free or reduced-rate tickets at the venue.

Do you like to travel? House sitting has become a popular side gig, whether short term or long term. House-sitting websites now match caretakers and homes, so it’s all legit. Start by searching house-sitting jobs. You can start local and if you like it, maybe eventually travel the globe, surfing from couch to couch.

For people with outgoing personalities who love their cities, being a local tour guide is a great way to share knowledge. Local tour companies are usually looking for summer help, or you can create your own, highlighting your town’s hidden gems.

Pet lover? Consider signing up with a pet-care service to pet sit or walk dogs. Not only do you get to cuddle with a furry friend, but you could get some exercise to boot by taking Rover for a spin around the block.

You can also turn your hobby into a business. Many people launch second careers based on a passion. Consider selling wares on online marketplaces or setting up a booth at the occasional arts and crafts fair. Also, farmers markets may encourage locals to exhibit wares.

Keep Social Security Benefits in Mind

One thing to keep in mind if you “unretire” is the impact on Social Security income. Generally, Social Security income gets taxed when your income is more than $25,000 annually. That includes income from retirement accounts. Up to 85% of your Social Security retirement could be taxed.

But there’s an upside. By bringing in income through a side hustle, you might be able to delay tapping Social Security and build up your benefits.

Waiting to claim Social Security until after your full retirement age (FRA) can make you eligible for an additional credit of up to 8% annually for every year you delay past your FRA until age 70. For people born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67, according to the Social Security Administration. Want to learn more? Consult a Social Security age chart.

Bottom Line on “Unretirement” Side Hustles

Whether it’s a job that follows your passion, or one that gets you some extra dough (so you can follow your passion), there’s no right or wrong way to unretire. As Christine Russell, senior manager of retirement and annuities at TD Ameritrade put it, “Gone are the days of retirement being seen as an essential, defined life stage.” In fact, according to the survey, many respondents are looking into mini-retirement breaks—53% said they’d rather work longer in their lifetime and have small one-year mini-retirement breaks than work without a break until retirement.

Retirement is a time to explore. That can mean taking classes to acquire new skills. Community colleges and adult education centers offer introductory classes to numerous fields. Interested in gardening? Enroll in a master gardener program at your local agricultural extension office.

In other words, your retirement gig doesn’t even need to be a paying one, especially if it makes you happy. That’s what retirement—and unretirement—is all about.

Interested in "Unretirement?"

Learn more about the Unretirement Survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of TD Ameritrade.

Read more about the Unretirement Survey


Key Takeaways

  • “Unretirees” looking for part-time work have many choices

  • If you’re working while drawing Social Security, keep an eye on the potential impact to your benefits
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