Retirees Cashing in on the Sharing Economy

Driving CarHave you ever thought it might be nice to make a little extra money to supplement your retirement?

Maybe you need a bit more income just to make ends meet, or maybe you’re doing okay but wouldn’t mind having some room in your budget for nice-to-have treats like a special night out or a weekend away.

Many digital-savvy seniors have found fun and creative ways to earn this kind of additional money as participants in the sharing economy.

What is the “sharing economy?”

The sharing economy is a trend fueled by the growing number of peer-to-peer service businesses that match customers with providers via the Internet and digital apps.

The “sharing” part of the sharing economy refers to a business model that relies on providers sharing something they have — a room, a car, time, a skill, etc. For example, two of the best-known sharing economy businesses are

1. Airbnb, a platform that gives people a way to rent out extra space in their homes or on their property to vacationers and business travelers

2. Uber, the new generation taxi service that provides on-demand urban transportation via a smartphone app

Many seniors are finding that these types of sharing economy platforms are the perfect way to earn some extra cash. It’s fairly simple to get started with these companies, and you have control over what you want to rent/sell/do and also over how much and when you would like to work. Also, in many cases, you can set your own rates for services.

While these companies do not provide any kind of employee benefits, most seniors do not consider that to be a major drawback, since their healthcare is typically already provided for by Medicare or some other program.

What can you do?
If you have an extra room to rent or time to care for someone’s beloved pets or would enjoy driving people to the airport, there are a number of companies out there who are ready to help you reach the people who need your services.

To get you started, here are a few sites that will give you some ideas and help you learn a little more about the opportunities available in the sharing economy:

1. Have a space you’d like to rent? Check out how to become an Airbnb host by inviting guests to stay in your spare room, in-law apartment, or vacation home.

2. Interested in driving people around the city? If you love being behind the wheel and meeting new people, driving for a company like Uber might be just the right fit.

3. Have an extra car that’s just taking up space in the garage? You might want to consider renting your spare vehicle out via Turo or Getaround.

4. Love animals? Services like Rover and DogVacay will connect you with pet owners who need walking and pet sitting services.

5. Delighted to show people around your neighborhood? You may be the perfect candidate to become an “Insider” at Vayable, a company that offers vacationers personal tour experiences from locals who know the city or town inside and out.

6. Up for handling small tasks? TaskRabbit and Fiverr are just two of the companies who provide people with a platform to offer a wide range of services, from picking up dry cleaning and assembling IKEA furniture to designing logos and doing voiceovers.

7. Have something to teach? Online education is a booming industry, and there are many options out there for people who have a skill they’d like to share. Check out WyzAnt, Skillshare, and Udemy to get a taste of the kinds of tutoring, courses, and classes people are offering.

These are just a few of the companies that are creating a wide range of new, flexible, and creative ways for people of all ages — from Millennials to Baby Boomers — to earn money. And, for seniors, participating in the sharing economy can also be a great way to stay active, meet new people, and feel connected to your community and the world at large.

It’s a win-win-win: customers who get the services they need, a little extra money in your pocket, and the enjoyment and satisfaction of social interactions and service.

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