Not everyone can—or wants to—commit to even a part-time job in retirement. But some retirees are looking for extra cash due to inflation, increased property taxes or health expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover.
Others want to be able to help out their families. Even something as simple as keeping adult children on the family phone plan or paying for a grandchild's music lessons provides some financial breathing room for their loved ones. If a grandchild is in college, it’s great to be able to cover some of the fees or send a little spending money from time to time.
Or maybe you just want some extra cash for meals out, new hobbies, travel and other retirement perks. Here are a few ways to make extra money on your own schedule. In some cases, you won’t even have to leave your home to rake in the bucks.
1. Unload unwanted gift cards
If you have gift cards you know you’ll never use, you can cash in on them. According to a Bankrate.com study, more than half of U.S. adults have gift cards with balances.
Fortunately, resellers such as Raise, CardCash and GiftCash will take the plastic off your hands. You’ll earn up to 95% of the card’s face value. Shop around to see which reseller will give you the best deal.
2. Declutter your closet
Are you still hanging on to professional attire from your working years? Did you retire from a cold climate to a warm one, yet, for some reason, brought your winter duds with you?
Someone else needs those power suits or wool slacks. If your clothes are in excellent condition, look for a local consignment shop. Some, such as Plato’s Closet and or Style Encore, are national chains. Many cities also have locally owned consignment stores. Typically, you can expect to get 50% of the price at which your clothes are sold by the consignment store. However, some will pay upfront.
Consignment shops also exist online, including ThredUP and Flyp. Some of these shops specialize; for example, Grailed is for men’s clothing, and TheRealReal is for luxury women’s clothing and accessories. Payouts can vary depending on the online consignment shop and the brand of clothing and accessories.
While you’re cleaning out your closet, look around the rest of your house to see if you can pare down your belongings by selling them at consignment stores or online marketplaces, such as Craigslist.and Facebook Marketplace.
3. Join online focus groups
Consumer opinion is valued—sometimes highly valued—by retailers, manufacturers and even lawyers who want to seat mock juries before their cases go to trial. You can earn anywhere from $20 to $250 per hour (or more) to be part of focus groups.
Some of these groups still meet in person, but more and more facilitators will empanel people via Zoom or some other virtual platform. These can be relatively short (I did one that took about half an hour total), while others might take place over several days (one such assignment required me to answer multiple questions in short-essay form, but I was paid $200).
Because they’re done online, you might be able to pick up extra cash even if you live in an out-of-the-way place. Look for potential focus group jobs on sites such as Focuscope, Respondent, OnlineVerdict and FindFocusGroups.
4. Provide pet care
Busy professionals can’t necessarily break away from the office to walk the dog or spend time with the cat. You could make very good money doing this for them.
Ditto folks who are going on vacation: Rather than leave their beloved animals at the kennel, they hire someone to spend time with (and clean up after) their pets. Sitters who are skilled at caring for specialty pets, such as reptiles or birds, will likely be kept as busy as they want to be.
Pet-sitting gigs are advertised on sites such as Rover, Care.com and PetSitter.com. Or put it out among your social circle (and your adult children’s social circles) that you’re available to snuggle a kitten or throw the ball for a Pomeranian—or, maybe, to feed live mice to a python.
5. Take online surveys
All survey opportunities are not created equal. Some pay very little; in fact, some pay in points that you can eventually trade in for rewards. There’s also the possibility that you’ll be tricked into paying a “membership fee” (it’s a scam) or be asked to buy products and take a “survey” about the experience (these are likely from affiliate marketers).
Decent survey sites do exist and can earn you a little spending money. Check out companies such as Pinecone Research, Toluna, Harris Poll Online and ClearVoice Surveys.
Generally, you’re asked solely for your personal opinions. In some cases, a company will send you products currently in development, so that the manufacturers can get consumer feedback. (If you’re asked to pay for such a product, or even for the shipping, it’s a scam. Reputable companies don’t do that.)
Some survey companies pay cash, while others award points that you can trade in for gift cards (PayPal gift cards may be included as an option). Gift cards can be considered another way of earning money because you can use them for things you want or need (including holiday shopping). Or, as we noted above, they can be sold for cash.
Note: It’s a good idea to open a new e-mail account just for surveys. This will keep your inbox from overflowing, on the off-chance a company sells your contact information.
6. Be a house sitter
You can make money keeping an eye on other people’s homes while they are out of town. Sometimes, house sitters are asked to stay in the residence. However, some homeowners just want you to pick up mail, water the plants and make the place look lived-in.
Put the word out that you’ll keep an eye on someone’s home, or check websites such as HouseSittersAmerica, House Sit Match and Luxury House Sitting. Note: You will likely be asked to complete a background check form, and you may also be required to pay an annual fee to work through some websites.
7. Sell your old electronics
Technology is improving by leaps and bounds—and each redesign means countless out-of-date, yet perfectly usable, items are gathering dust in our homes. It’s tempting to think you might need a backup some day, but be honest: What are the chances that you’ll dig out and use that three-year-old tablet?
Instead of donating these things—or, worse, disposing of them in the landfill—why not try to sell them? Sites such as Gazelle, Decluttr, BuyBackWorld and the Amazon Trade-In program pay for these items.
“Electronics” covers a wide range of items other than smartphones and tablets. Some sites are in the market for things such as digital cameras, headphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, laptops and even drones. In some cases, a site will accept items that no longer work (at a lower price, obviously). Free shipping is often included as part of the transaction.
8. Become a tutor
Whether it’s science, languages or some other subject, your expertise can bring in extra dollars. A retired math instructor I know earns a pretty penny helping high-schoolers who struggle with trigonometry and calculus.
You don’t necessarily need to have been a teacher to become a tutor. Jobs are also available for non-teachers who happen to have expertise in a particular field of study, such as engineering or languages.
And speaking of languages: People who are interested in learning English often look for a native speaker to help them. Thanks to the Internet, you could help someone from thousands of miles away from the comfort of your home.
Find out if your local schools will put you in touch with those who need tutoring, or look for jobs through sites like Tutors.com or Wyzant.com.
9. Be a personal concierge
Do you like to regularly get out of the house? Are you both flexible and organized? People who are too busy to do things such as pick up their own dry cleaning or take their dog to the groomer could use your help to keep their lives running smoothly.
Let it be known you’re available to run errands, retrieve prescriptions, wait at someone’s home for a package to be delivered or help set up a baby shower. You might also find these sorts of opportunities through sites like Postmates or Shipt.
This won’t always be an “easy” way to make extra money. For example, someone might want you to pick up half a dozen kegs of beer for a Memorial Day picnic. Those things are heavy. Pick and choose the gigs you want, and pass on the rest.