6 Ways to Retire and Thrive in the Gig Economy

Sep 22, 2016
Author: Scott Hanson

Have you seen DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket commercials featuring retired Denver Broncos’ quarterback, Peyton Manning?

One of the most beloved athletes in history, Manning is dressed in his bathrobe and can be seen doing typical things such as grocery shopping, lounging at home, and, my favorite, which features the former superstar sitting on a park bench when a stranger slowly turns to him and deadpans: “I’m retired. I just sit here watching nothing. If I were you, I’d work as long as you can.” (See the commercial here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WsKUpA75qAi)

Retire? Yes. Keep working? Yes. (Just not the way you did before you retired.)

Americans are now working longer than any generation of the past 75 years. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that for the first time (since it began tracking these stats), the average age of retirement is no longer in decline, but rising. (It’s currently age 63.ii) Perhaps more importantly, a full 75 percent of people are planning to work in some capacity after the age of 65.iii

But here’s the catch: we’re not continuing to work at our careers, and we’re not working full time, or strictly for the money. According to AARPiii, we’re working for the quality of life and to stay active and involved.

Finding substance to fill all those hours.

We are living longer, and therefore the duration of our retirement is significantly longer than 50 years ago. Today, a healthy 65-year-old woman has a 25 percent chance of living to age 96 (while it’s 93, for a man).iv

Retirees now view this chapter of their lives as “an opportunity for reinvention.”v People are clearly looking for more flexibility (73 percent report this as a priority), and, in support of this, a recent study found that working retirees are 3X more likely than pre-retirees to be entrepreneurs.vi

The “gig” and “freelance” economies.

What is the “gig economy”? Not everyone is cut out to run a business. In response, the gig economy provides work for thousands of people who complete projects or tasks, often coordinated through a digital marketplace, and who are subsequently paid for one project at a time. One recent study estimates that by 2020 as much as 40 percent of the U.S. economy could be comprised of independent workers with short-term contracts.vii

The gig economy can be a great opportunity for retirees looking to continue working. In fact, the private taxi service Uber recently brokered a partnership with AARP to tap into the 50-and older workforce. Today, nearly 1 in 4 Uber drivers are over the age of 50.

6 Ways to get your “gig” on.

Freelancing also provides older workers greater flexibility, opportunities for learning and growth, and an income stream to stretch your retirement dollars into the future.

Here’s the good news: If you are looking for creative ways to fill your time, and make some extra money in the process, you can use your skills, experience and flexible schedule to thrive in our new “gig economy.” What follows are six ways to take advantage of the gig economy:

  1. Flexjobs.com has an “over 50” porthole to connect retirees and pre-retirees with flexible, professional-level jobs. There’s a small fee, but The New York Times says this company is fastidious about its fact checking, and is therefore worth the price.
  2. Ratracerebellion.com is for people who only want to work from home. It’s a free and well-organized site with loads of interesting opportunities you can complete from your home office.
  3. TaskRabbit.com connects “skilled, on-demand workers” with people needing chores to be completed, from errands, to major cleaning, to minor repairs and house painting.
  4. Uber and Lyft connect people needing taxi rides to drivers through a location-based app. It’s 100 percent flexible and, according to its website, Uber drivers average about $15.00 an hour (it’s higher on both coasts and in large cities like Chicago).
  5. If you have a 2nd home, or if you like to travel, sites such as AirBNB.com, and VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) can quickly turn you into a property manager.
  6. Greatnonprofits.org is a comprehensive website devoted to matching volunteers and nonprofits? But what if you want or need to get paid? According to Greatnonprofits, some 75 percent of paid positions at charities and nonprofit organizations are filled by people who initially volunteered and then were hired for a paying job within the organization.

Want to learn more about the new face of retirement? Here are 3 resources to help you learn how you can make the gig economy work for you:


i DirecTV Sunday Ticket commercial at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WsKUpA75qA
ii Holder, Kelly A. and Clark, Sandra L. “Working Beyond Retirement Age,” U.S. Census Bureau Housing and Household Economics Division, Labor Force Statistics Branch.
iii AARP, work in retirement.
iv Society of Actuaries RP-2014 Mortality Table projected with Mortality Improvement Scale MP-2014 as of 2015
v SunAmerica Pre-Retirement ReSet Study, 2011, p.5, SunAmerica Pre-Retirement ReSet Study, 2011, https://www.safunds.com/pdf/retirement-re-set-study/retirement-re-set-study-report.pdf
vi Merrill Lynch’s Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations, Career Reinventions and the New Retirement Workscape, 2015, p.7
vii Intuit 2020 Report, “20 Trends that will shape the next decade.” http://http-download.intuit.com/http.intuit/CMO/intuit/futureofsmallbusiness/intuit_2020_report.pdf

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