We all know on some level that saving for retirement is important. There are any number of retiree opportunities out there that can prove to be lucrative (and the better guides even allow you to narrow the options by the number of hours available, preferred base of operations, etc.), but some of the more audacious suggestions will involve an initial investment to give you the best shot. And, where there’s investment of any sort, there’s inherent risk.
We know making an initial investment can be off-putting when you’re already somewhat uncertain about how long your existing reserves might last, so we’ve identified seven safe opportunities that require barely any initial layout and should offer a fairly reliable source of additional income to anyone willing to dedicate their time to the cause.
1. Sell unwanted goods
Probably the most obvious money-making option (especially for those of us with a lifetime of accumulated junk under our feet!) is to sell it off for cash and free up a bit of space into the bargain. You can either go down the already incredibly popular auction website route by selling your items directly on sites like eBay and Craigslist—especially if you’ve got any old collectible items that you no longer want—or, you can become an Amazon affiliate and earn small percentages by helping to sell goods for other people.
Pros and cons abound for both models, of course; the best path for you will depend very much on what sort of income flow best suits you, as well as how much time/energy/space you can afford to dedicate to it.
2. Loan vacant assets
If shifting out a load of unwanted ephemera from your attic, basement, spare bedroom, or garage means you’ve suddenly got more empty space on your hands, then you could be perfectly placed to join the ‘sharing economy’—in other words, to make money from loaning out assets that other people will pay to borrow or use.
This could include short-term rental of a bedroom on Airbnb (note you can make far more by renting a whole house for a few days here and there), but there are dozens of less obvious options too. Vehicles, tools, electronics (particularly DSLR cameras and video recorders), garages and basements for potential studio/workshop setups, outdoor spaces for summer events, and even driveways with unused parking space can all be rented out via websites that help find customers and broker the transactions for you.
3. Design and make things
If you don’t already own the thing you’ve spotted a gap in the market for, could you make it?
For the more artistically inclined or those skilled in picking up handicrafts, there are many popular independent outlets selling through online hubs like Etsy, where you’ll find everything from fine art to woodwork, needlecraft and lace products, printed t-shirts and signs, hand-poured candles, jewellery, incense, and soap, so why not set up your own little production line at home?
The beauty of this model is that you don’t need to keep unlimited stock in your store at all times, meaning you can produce and sell items as your schedule allows and when you feel like it.
4. Exploit other skills and talents
Handy with a camera? Sell to stock photo libraries. Good at coming up with catchy little motifs on a keyboard? Try one of the royalty-paying websites where you can license and upload a few tracks or sound effects for use on amateur podcasts and YouTube videos.
And of course, don’t forget eBooks—even if you don’t consider yourself the next Harper Lee or Ernest Hemingway, there’s still a good chance you might have a particular experience or skill that would suit being turned into a straight-talking guide or instruction manual, many of which become highly popular downloads.
5. Pass on your expertise and experience
Speaking of practical guides and manuals, if you don’t feel able or willing to invest the time to write a whole book on your specialized subject, then perhaps you could jump right to teaching it directly.
Maybe you’re a dab hand at the oboe, or can talk someone through every step of fixing an engine: if so, regardless of where in the world you’re based, you can access numerous reputable websites that act as distance learning hubs, allowing you to offer your services in email or video format to both individuals and larger groups. You can even create entire courses on sites like Udemy, where you design and produce your own structured video content in advance that people then pay a set fee to access and download.
6. Sell your time
If you’d rather be providing an active service for extra income than any of the more passive options available, there are many ways to do so.
Again, various online hubs allow you to pitch for all kinds of work to be completed from home. For instance, if you’ve got some office experience, you can find places seeking part-time minute-takers to ‘attend’ business meetings via video link and keep track of proceedings.
Maybe your studies abroad mean you can offer language translation services up to a certain standard, or your background in accounting could be useful when other freelancers need to do their tax returns. Alternatively, if you’re more of a homemaker than an office drone, why not take on a few baskets of extra ironing a week, and make money while watching your favorite TV shows?
In short, if it exists as a full-time job out there in the world, then you can almost certainly find somebody willing to pay you to do it part-time over the internet.
7. Monetize a hobby
Speaking of existing roles, can you get paid for anything you’re already doing for free in your spare time? Many hobbies can be turned into handy little money-spinners, either through tutoring (as we mentioned above), by offering to take a more active role in organizations you’re already a member of, or by setting up an interest group and leading members on subscription-based outings.
Use sites like MeetUp to organize your own events, talks, and sessions, and sell tickets through relevant social media groups and pages.
The added bonus of turning a hobby into a part-time job, of course, is that it can also be incredibly socially rewarding.
Sam Brown is a writer and blog editor at the Tubz Vending Franchise franchising blog. He is based in the north of England where he lives with his lovely family and elusive cats.