Sure, it’s a cliché, but it’s also a reality for many retirees. Helping out in a low-key part-time manner at a big box retailer has long been seen as a comfortable way to stay active and earn a few extra bucks in retirement.

Covid-19 changed all that. Those friendly greeter positions relied on a vibrant retail economy. Safe distancing and remote working have dramatically changed consumer habits. Why take a risk when you can order online? And that assumes your state allows anything but grocery stores to open their doors to customers.



Baby Boomers need not give up when it comes to generating supplemental income during retirement. There are still plenty of opportunities available. In some ways, thanks to the now nearly universal acceptance of web-based commerce, it’s both easier and faster to start earning money, no matter what your age.

“Anything from home that a Boomer can do via phone or computer to earn extra income is great,” says Evan Press of Equitable Advisors in Woodland Hills, California. “Many retirees need to phase into retirement and not just stop cold. Having something to do is great and if they can do anything from home to be safe, that’s a major bonus.”

Just like they took Facebook away from Millennials, retired Baby Boomers, having already established a beachhead, may soon find it desirable to undertake a full-scale invasion of the gig economy. Given the limitations caused by the coronavirus, the move almost makes too much sense.

“Finding a virtual gig can be a solution to earn cash and stay safe,” says Kathleen Owens, Managing Member and Financial Adviser at Aurora Financial Planning & Investment Management LLC in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The quickest way to entrepreneurial success is to solve a problem for yourself first. Once you’ve successfully mastered this challenge, you now have a template to solve this same problem for others.

Of course, it’s best to focus on a problem that’s universal. For example, take a look at how shopping behavioral patterns have changed. Do you shop the same way today as you did six months ago? Have you figured out how the new world of buying things works? If you have, you may have discovered a potentially lucrative business model.

“One area that is continuing to prosper is personal shopping,” says Dabney Baum, a financial advisor at Baum Wealth Advisors in Boston. “You can join Instacart or other companies and do grocery shopping or other errands for those who can’t leave their homes. Check with your town’s senior citizens council for other opportunities that may be available in your area. You can do this on your own time schedule perhaps taking advantage of senior citizen hours at grocery stores.”

Don’t forget the flipside of this equation. You know how to buy, so why not try your hand at selling?

“Cleaning out your closet and selling your stuff online, is a tried and true way to bring in some cash,” says Owens. “Watch out though, extra income can affect your Social Security benefits.”

Another easy flex is to leverage your past career. You can even choose how intense you want to be in your pursuit of this.

“Baby Boomers should tap into their past experience and become a virtual consultant in their prior field,” says Owens. “Administrative assistants are in demand, so if one has that prior experience, being a virtual assistant, can be a great way to earn extra cash.”

Don’t limit your definition of “experience” to what you used to get paid for. Consider your hobbies, things you simply enjoy engaging in.

“Draw upon something you already love doing, that you know you’re really good at,” says Pam Krueger, Founder and CEO of Wealthramp in Tiburon, California. “Millions of families have pets. If you are a dog lover, you could easily fill up 3 days a week babysitting/walking those animals. There’s no reason a company wouldn’t want to hire you in a customer service support role to field calls and help customers solve problems in an industry you like such as retail.”

What about something that you’ve done because you had to? Not work. Not a hobby. Something more akin to an obligation.

Did you raise your own kids? Were you a youth minister for your church? Did you coach youth sports? You may have done these activities to fulfill a greater duty, but they represent a potentially much desired experience.

“Childcare is at a premium,” says Baum. “Many parents are working from home and have childcare or school cancelled. You can set up zoom tutoring and zoom childcare (reading stories etc.) Additionally, you can go to a family’s home and watch their children for a few hours a day. Parents love older childcare workers because they typically do not spend their time on their phones! Check on Facebook or other websites for your area’s going rate. In my town it is $20-25 per hour.”

Covid-19 may have changed the economic landscape. It may have squelched popular business models. But it also has given rise to new ways of doing old things, created new areas of need, and, in general, making it easier and quicker for Baby Boomers to add to their retirement income.

By Chris Carosa, Senior Contributor

© 2020 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved

This Forbes article was legally licensed through AdvisorStream.

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Thomas J Cooper, CFP®, CPPT
Certified Financial Planner, Fiduciary
NAMCOA (Naples Asset Management Company®, LLC)
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