10 Retirement Hobbies That Can Make You Money

By Kate Rockwood |

Boost your mind, body, and bank account with these enjoyable pastimes.

Mature woman painting pottery

Work and retirement might seem like two things that shouldn’t go together. But having a side gig in your golden years can be a great way to earn a little extra cash and give your day some structure. When that side gig happens to be a hobby or activity you love doing, all the better.

“Having a consistent stream of income in retirement can go a long way toward making a financial plan a success,” says John Bush, a certified financial planner with Elevate Financial Planning in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Ideally, you would pursue work that is both fulfilling and enjoyable.”  

What’s more, a hobby can be a great way to connect with like-minded people, keep your brain sharp, and even protect your mental health. A 2019 study published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that taking up a hobby can reduce risk of depression in older adults by as much as 30 percent.  

Retirement is a great time to explore some of the pastimes and passions you probably didn’t have time for while working. Here are 10 activities particularly well-suited for making extra cash.  

Paying Hobby #1: Writing Book Reviews 

If your nightstand is a leaning tower of paperbacks and you’re a wordsmith to boot, you could get paid for writing book reviews. Outlets such as Kirkus and Booklist (part of the American Library Association) both pay skilled writers to pen reviews. 

The rate isn’t anything to write home about — Booklist pays $15 per very short review — but you’ll also get access to new, interesting books for free.  

Paying Hobby #2: Dog Walking 

This is a perfect postretirement job opportunity: It’s flexible, easy to start, and comes with all sorts of health benefits. For example, spending time caring for furry friends can lower both your blood pressure and feelings of loneliness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

To get your business off the ground, spread the word on social media or to your dog-owning neighbors. You can round out your offerings by pet sitting too. To reach a bigger audience, sign up as a dog walker or pet sitter on websites such as Rover or Wag!.  

Paying Hobby #3: Making Art 

If you’re a whiz with a crochet hook, a woodworking wonder, or a master jewelry maker, consider selling your handmade art on sites such as eBay and Etsy. (Here’s a beginner’s guide to selling on Etsy.) You also might strike up a conversation with a local coffee shop, art gallery, or boutique owner to see if they’d be willing to display your art for sale or on consignment.   

Paying Hobby #4: Assembling Furniture 

Few things strike as much fear into people’s hearts as having to assemble a piece of furniture — which is why they’ll pay a pretty penny to have you take that task off their hands. Word of mouth alone might be enough to get you started, but you can also join websites such as TaskRabbit, now owned by IKEA, that directly connect you with people looking for help. Consider all the marriages you might save!  

Paying Hobby #5: Giving Tours 

Your love of art, architecture, or history can pay off — in more ways than one. Many cities offer chances to lead tour groups, whether at museums or in a historic area. These jobs are often flexible and don’t require previous experience, although it helps if you’re knowledgeable on the topic and a great storyteller.  

Check in with your city’s tourism office, chamber of commerce, or historical society for opportunities. Along the way, you’re certain to meet loads of interesting people, which comes with its own brain boost. A University of Michigan study found that when people spent just 10 minutes getting to know someone, they performed better on a cognitive task.  

Paying Hobby #6: Answering Questions 

Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you can’t still share what you learned on the job. Websites such as JustAnswer pay people with professional expertise to answer questions. Experts such as doctors, electricians, plumbers, nurses, computer techs, mechanics, tax accountants, and lawyers are especially in demand, but people from all fields can apply for free on their website.  

There are also micro-consulting websites such as Maven that connect you with people looking for certain expertise. “Consulting is a good option for some retirees,” Bush says. “It allows them to use their lifetime of experience and expertise but also choose how much work they’re willing to take on.”  

Paying Hobby #7: Organizing  

If you regularly use Marie Kondo’s name as a verb, helping people organize their stuff — and their lives — could be a great outlet for you. Clutter is a major problem for many people. In fact, worrying that their home isn’t clean or organized enough was one of the top five stress triggers for Americans in a recent Huffington Post survey (other top triggers include not getting enough sleep and worrying about weight).  

There are plenty of opportunities to share what you know about being organized or reducing clutter. They include people who are looking to sell their homes or are combing through the belongings of a loved one who has died in preparation for an estate sale. To get started, put out a call on social media or help a few friends with their organizing projects and use the results to get more work. Professional organizers tend to make between $55 and $100 per hour. If you’re doing this as a hobby, you likely won’t be able to charge nearly as much, but it can still be a way to earn money from your talent for tidiness.  

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Paying Hobby #8: Calligraphy 

Fancy handwriting is still in hot demand when it comes to formal invitations. If you have lovely handwriting or have dabbled in calligraphy as a hobby over the years, this could be a chance to turn it into a moneymaking venture. Solicit business through friends and family (or an Etsy shop) for hand-addressing invitations to everything from baby showers to weddings to dinner parties. As you get more projects under your belt, you can create a portfolio of your work. That could be as simple as a folder of images you can share with people.  

Paying Hobby #9: Online Resale 

If you love shopping at thrift stores, going to estate sales, or doing some antiquing, and you have an eye for special treasures, you can make money by reselling your finds on sites such as eBay, ThredUp (for clothing), or Facebook Marketplace 

To make your post stand out from the pack, describe it the way people would likely search for it online. For example, be sure to correctly label a period party dress as a “vintage 1920s flapper dress.” eBay recommends using important keywords (such as “flapper dress”) 10 to 14 times in a 200-word description. Photos are also hugely important to selling your product. Provide several well-lit photos of the item from different angles. And finally, be honest about the condition of your item, mentioning any stains, tears, or broken parts.  

Paying Hobby #10: Tutoring 

You don’t need a teaching background to be a tutor in most cases. You just need to be knowledgeable in a select area and to love helping people learn. Some companies, such as Tutor.com, also require you to pass a subject exam.  

One tutoring market that has really taken off is teaching English to Chinese students through websites such as VIPKid or 51Talk. The pay through VIPKid is $7 to $9 per 25-minute class. Check out the websites to learn more and become a teacher!  

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