You’ve got more than enough money in your retirement account to do all the things you’d like to do, right? The truth is most Americans don’t have enough money saved for a retirement that can last several decades.

With the prospect of increasing health care and insurance costs, many retirees (and those contemplating retirement) are looking for ways to make money. The margin between staying afloat and going under can be razor thin.

Ask yourself this question: Would making an extra $50, $100, or $250 a week (or month) make a difference in your quality of life? For many retirees, the answer is “yes.” It’s a reality that many retirees have to choose between paying for medication and paying for other essentials. Finding a way to make money is essential. Those who are ill or infirm are especially at risk and, unfortunately, have very limited options.

Starting a business can be risky – especially if you’ve never run one before. It’s a sad statistic but according to the Small Business Administration, only half of the more than 600,000 small firms that were started in the United States annually are likely to last beyond five years. Yet there are ways to increase your cash flow. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

Convert unused items to cash

If you’re not using an item and you’re willing to part with it you may be able to sell it. Garage or tag sales are tried and true ways to sell unwanted items. However, they are a lot of work and attract bargain hunters. Consider selling your items on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. You’ll need to take photos of what you’re selling, put them on the website, and write a description of the item. Don’t underestimate the shipping costs, if any.  Costume jewelry sells well this way. I sold recently sold a necklace I hadn’t worn in years on eBay and made $15. Multiply that by the number of necklaces I don’t wear and I could generate some real cash.

Sell your time

If you are able-bodied and can run errands and perform simple tasks, there is a market for your services. For any service you perform that involves the use of your automobile, include a mileage charge of 55 cents per mile.  Otherwise, you are decreasing your net income because using your car costs you money. Depending on the service you provide you may be able to charge $10 – $20 per hour for your time. Attend networking events to let others know you have an errand running service and have business cards so prospective clients know how to contact you.

Teach what you know

Decades ago I found myself in a financial bind. I needed to generate cash instantly. I started teaching piano lessons to supplement my income. My business grew and at one point I had 52 students. The irony was while I had studied music in college and had taken lessons for years I did not have a degree in music. The real kicker was at that time I didn’t own a piano. That didn’t stop me. I went to my client’s homes to teach and parents were willing to pay a premium for that convenience. What skill do you have that you could teach to others and generate income?

Direct sales

There are a multitude of direct sales companies that are looking for sales representatives. Ask yourself if you are willing to devote the necessary time and energy to selling their products. It’s easy to be swayed by the promise of “big money” by selling cosmetics, purses, jewelry and other items. Yes, it can be done but to be successful you have to treat it like a job and devote regular hours to sales and follow up and know that it will take time before the money will start to flow.

Dog walking

I read recently that the need for dog walkers will surpass the need for teachers in this country as baby boomers age. If you have a way with animals and like walking as exercise, this may be the right money maker for you. has a great tutorial on how to start a dog walking business.  A pet sitting service is another way to augment your retirement income.


If you’re good at fixing things, you may be able to earn income performing minor repairs and tasks that do not require a license. Be sure to check local laws and regulations and comply with them. Repairing broken windows, hanging pictures, carpentry, and minor appliance repairs are services an aging population may need.

Finally, if you do decide to start a money making venture you need to know the rules and regulations that apply to what you’re doing. You may need to register your business with state and local authorities, have a license from the state, and collect sales tax. The Small Business Administration, SCORE, and AARP have resources to help you.  Organization is key to success. Be sure to keep excellent records, track your income, and declare it on your taxes. Consult a tax professional to know which expenses you incur doing business are deductible.

If you already have a money-making idea (or are open to other lines of financial opportunity) but need to plan out the details, visit our What’s Next For Boomers? Life Planning Center for support and assistance.