How to survive (& thrive) if you’re cash poor in retirement


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You’re likely stuck on a fixed income from your retirement account or Social Security, which does not leave very much room for sudden expenses like a broken-down car, large purchase, or even medical expenses. If you find yourself strapped for cash during some point in your retirement, consider these helpful tips; they may be enough to get you out of a bind.

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1. Consider working part-time

There are a few ways you might return to the workforce. A great option for folks in retirement is to work for the gig economy – that’s companies like Lyft, Uber, Wag, or DoorDash which allow you to work on your schedule. Driving for Lyft or Uber a few times a week might be just what you need to supplement those retirement checks and get yourself out of whatever financial issue you might be stuck in.

If you’ve retired from an industry that’s growing right now, there might be plenty of opportunities for mentoring or consulting available to you. Make sure you check in with your professional network and see if there are niches for part-time mentors or consultants that you could fill – oftentimes, it’s even possible to do this kind of work remotely! Freelance work is also always an option if you have skills to market online.

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2. Get paid for your hobbies

It’s possible that some of your hobbies – say, woodworking, knitting, antiquing, or jewelry-making – could actually be turned into revenue streams! Think about some of the things that you spend the most time on. Are any of those things the kinds of goods or services that people might actually pay for? Try looking around on a site like Etsy to see whether there exists a market for the kinds of things you make on your free time.

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3. Think about refinancing

If you are still paying for your home, need a few hundred dollars available each month, you could consider refinancing in hope of a lower monthly payment. Another option, if you seriously need more available cash, is a reverse mortgageThis is basically a loan; the loan company buys your house from you by paying you in installments (or a lump sum, in some cases).

Make sure to speak with a trustworthy financial advisor before making any moves, and be sure that you read over reverse mortgage rules before committing to anything. Refinancing can be an excellent way to free up extra cash and is definitely something worth considering.

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4. Consider downsizing

If you’re still paying for a three-bedroom house with a pool and a yard that has long since outlived its necessity, you may want to contemplate downsizing. People can easily get used to a certain standard of living, and even when times get tough, become very reluctant to let go of some of their more fiscally irresponsible habits.

If you find yourself in retirement in a situation where the money going out is exceeding the money coming in, downsizing may be your best bet. It may be hard to say goodbye to a home that you’ve lived in for a while, but your bank account will be much better off for it.

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5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It can sometimes simply come down to a matter of pride. Retirement is supposed to be a relaxed time of plenty, so admitting that you need assistance can sometimes mean swallowing your pride and admitting to a close friend or family member that you need help.

We get it – that can be really hard to do. But if you find yourself in need of money to make ends meet and to ensure that you don’t end up on the street, sometimes help from family or a friend can mean the difference between being OK and not being OK. Don’t let pride get in the way!

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Bottom line

Retirement is a financial challenge, but with the right strategies and opportunities, you will find ways to supplement your income if you’re strapped for cash. Remember to be open-minded, always make and maintain a regular budget, and seek help when you need it.

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