When is a senior’s income no longer “fixed?” When that senior discovers the gig economy that allows for making money when that senior wants an influx of cash, maybe to cover holiday expenses, to pay unexpected dental bills or just simply to have a good time.
In that last regard Carolyn Bryner, a retired nurse in Hendersonville, Tenn., not long ago picked up the tab for an eight-day family Caribbean cruise in the pricey winter season. “I just worked a little harder and longer,” said Bryner who - for three and one-half years - has used an app called VarageSale to sell household goods, mainly antiques, that she and her husband collect on picking trips across the Midwest. “I have 540 items up for sale right now,” said Bryner, who said her merchandise is priced from about $2 to $200. “I put in 30 hours a week, sometimes less. I am not trying to get rich. I have beautiful stuff, and I want to help people have the same things at a price we all can afford.”
As for eBay, no thanks, said Bryner, because she doesn’t want to ship. With VarageSale - which lets her post her sale items - she sells only to in-person buyers. “A lot have become my friends,” she added.
She is not alone. Seniors are redefining retirement, by dipping into the gig economy of less structured work. Some are making money in Uber and Airbnb - just as you would expect - and others are finding good-paying seasonal work at companies like Amazon (which is hiring 100,000 employees for this year’s holidays). Some are growing their retirement income -- quite literally.
Many others are also following the traditional advice to build on the skills they acquired over a lifetime. So retired accountants pick up cash in tax season doing returns, retired lawyers help busy firms by handling overflow filings and retired school teachers pick up cash as substitutes. Still others earn steady money working as freelance handymen.
But this is 2015 and old molds are made to be shattered. And so they are, as many seniors - like Bryner in Tennessee - are supplementing their fixed income in ways that will surprise.