Retirement is a time to pursue new passions, says Lisa Odoski, vice president and partner for advisory firm TFG Wealth Management in Newtown, Pennsylvania. “It’s the second phase of your life. It’s the best one,” she says.
That often means trying new activities that, depending on your interests, could get expensive. “The trick is to make sure your hobby is at least revenue neutral,” says Joseph Conroy, author of “Decades & Decisions: Financial Planning At Any Age” and financial advisor with advisory firm Synergy Financial Group in Towson, Maryland. The way to do that may be to look for hobbies that make money as well as fill your time.
With that in mind, here are seven hobbies for adults that could be potential money-makers.
— Pet care.
But before you try to monetize your passion, you may want to consult with a tax professional. Money earned through profitable hobbies must be claimed for income tax purposes, explains Tim Speiss, partner-in-charge of the personal wealth advisors practice with the accounting firm EisnerAmper LLP in New York City. Make sure you understand how to claim your hobbies and whether there will be any tax implications for your Social Security benefits.
Once you understand how profitable hobbies can impact your taxes, it’s time to formulate a plan to make money. Read on to learn how to turn these seven pursuits into a source of income.
The cost of fishing can quickly add up, but there are ways to offset the expense and even make additional money on the side. For example, Conroy has a client who doesn’t need extra cash, but decided to take a job at the retailer Bass Pro Shops anyway. “He gets to talk to people about fishing all day,” Conroy says. Working as a fishing guide or making and selling lures are other ways to make money from a passion for fishing. How much you earn can depend on many factors, such as whether you need to provide your own supplies or work for a guide company that outfits its customers. Skilled guides in specialties such as fly fishing may earn $125 or more per day in gratuities alone.
It may seem like a stereotype, but Conroy says a number of retirees work at golf courses so they can make money off of their favorite hobby. They may be employed in the pro shop or help at the driving range. A perk of working at a course may be free rounds of golf. A golf course ranger who monitors private golf courses may make $25,000 a year and get playing privileges on the course, according to a 2017 report from Golf Digest.
A pet may not fit into the busy lifestyle of a working professional, but retirees can turn a love of animals into a profitable hobby. Odoski recalls one client who rescued a dog after leaving the workforce. “The next thing (you know) she is walking dogs and watching dogs for the neighbors,” she says. This client began earning money as a dog walker and pet sitter, and she isn’t the only retiree to make money off four-legged friends. Another of Odoski’s clients is opening a doggy day care while a third one is in the process of forming an animal rescue.
Dog walkers can generally charge up to $20 for a 20-minute walk, according to Angie’s List, a website that connects service providers to clients. If you’d like to pet sit or offer a doggy day care, the website HomeGuide, which allows customers to search for service professionals in their area, says average rates nationwide are $25 per full day or $15 per half day. However, if you plan to bring animals into your home to watch during the day, talk to your insurance company first to ensure it is allowed under your policy.
Shopping may seem like an expensive hobby, but it can be a moneymaker if done right. Bargain shoppers can find deeply discounted goods at big-box retailers or outlet stores and then sell them for a profit on eBay or Amazon. Mobile apps can make this process easier. For instance, Profit Bandit, which costs $9.99 a month, lets users scan items and quickly determine the profit potential of a resale. Those with a store subscription on eBay get access to the online service Terapeak, which has tools to research sales data and identify items to sell.
For those with the financial means, opening a retail store in retirement is another option. “Many clients will buy a business that they don’t actually work at,” Speiss says. This may allow a retiree to be involved in inventory selection, while leaving day-to-day operations to someone else.
Many popular hobbies for adults involve crafting items. Making ceramics gives retirees a creative outlet but can quickly result in an overabundance of pottery in the house. The answer may be to sell items at craft shows or on the online marketplace Etsy. That was the approach taken by one of Conroy’s clients. “It gives her an excuse to keep making things because you can only use so many coffee mugs,” he says. The amount you can make selling pottery can vary on skill level and where you sell your work: at craft shows, art shows and online.
Woodworking is another hands-on hobby that can be used to create goods for sale. Items can be sold locally through art shows, craft shows or online classified ads such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Woodworking items can also be sold through sites such as Etsy, which markets handmade goods to a global audience. However, the profit you actually make will depend on how much you need to spend on supplies as well as the going price for your chosen items. Scout out the competition and current selling prices before you begin. “You don’t want to go out and spend $3,000 on tools to make $5 a month,” Conroy says.
If making items for sale sounds tedious, offering woodworking classes can be another way to make cash off this hobby. Tech-savvy retirees can create instructional videos to sell as courses on learning websites such as Udemy for any price they’d like, though $10 to $20 is the norm.
Tourists may hire local guides to help them navigate a city and to get recommendations for places to eat and sites that are off the beaten path. Serving as a sightseeing guide can be a good hobby for active retirees who enjoy meeting new people.
Websites like ToursByLocals and Shiroube help connect travelers to local guides, or retirees could offer services independently and market themselves through a local Chamber of Commerce or travel bureau. Local tour guides often set their own rates, and it’s not unusual to earn $50 or more per hour. If you decide to offer services through an online platform, check to see how much they take as a commission before signing up. Making money as a sightseeing guide may work best for those who live near larger cities, such as Odoski’s clients who provide tours in Philadelphia. “They get their exercise in, and they get to show off the city they love,” she says.
While hobbies that make money can help boost income, that isn’t their only benefit. They keep you from spending money on other recreational activities, Conroy says. That can be a benefit for seniors who have limited savings but a potentially long retirement in front of them.
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