Easy ways for over 50s to earn extra cash

20 April 2017

We all enjoy earning a bit of extra cash. Whether you are topping up your pay cheque or your pension income, it’s often this money we feel we can justify spending on treats or luxuries instead of just paying the bills.

Research from Sun Life shows that as many as 17% of over 50s are making money outside work and it’s not just those on low incomes. The numbers rose to 23% of those earning between £40,000 and £50,000, compared to just 10% for workers earning less than £10,000.

Ian Atkinson, marketing director at Sun Life, says: “Our Big 50 research reveals that 17% of people aged 50 and over earn money in ways other than through their main job or pension, such as selling things on eBay or through Airbnb, while a further one in 12 says they plan to find a new way to make money.”

He adds: “The most common way people are earning extra cash is by selling things and renting out property, but other ways include private tutoring, freelance writing, selling cakes, dog walking and taxi driving.”

Your job will limit just how much time you’re able to spend topping up your income, but if you have already retired or downsized your career, it’s easy to find ways to earn a bit of extra money. Some could bring you in a few extra pounds a month, while others could bring in hundreds. Get inspired, with a few ideas from Moneywise.

Take care of pets

Looking after people’s pets when they go on holiday or are at work is a great way for animal lovers to earn some extra money. This usually involves visiting the owner’s home as often as is required to make sure their four-legged (or otherwise) friend is fed and gets the exercise – and attention – it needs.

Jacqui Summer (pictured below), 64, has been getting work taking care of other people’s dogs through Pawshake.co.uk, which matches owners of cats and dogs who need help with local pet sitters.
“I was working as a dental receptionist and gradually started reducing my hours, but I saw an advert for Pawshake and thought I would give it a go to supplement my income,” she explains.

Now fully retired, Jacqui has left her former home of Gosport in Hampshire and moved to Kendal in the Lake District earlier this year. However, as she promotes her services online, it has proved easy to take her work with her.

“I was able to take all my customer reviews with me and all I had to do was update my address on my profile – it has been a lifeline for me,” she says.

A couple of months down the line, Jacqui has a couple of regular clients. “I’m looking after a nervous dog that has just been rehomed and another whose owner travels overseas,” she says.

To provide care for a dog, Jacqui charges £25 for 9am to 5pm or £40 for 24 hours, with 19% of this fee going to Pawshake (it’s free for pet sitters to list their services on the website).

For Jacqui, the work has helped her get to know her new local area and keeps her fit, but she admits it’s not for everyone. “I’ve been able to fit the work around my lifestyle and as you get older it is important that what you do gives you pleasure,” she says. “But it’s not all glory; it’s hard work especially if you are taking care of dogs in your own home.”

It’s also important to check you have adequate insurance – particularly public liability insurance, which covers you if a dog you are responsible for causes damage or injures somebody under your supervision. If you’re using a site such as Pawshake, this may well be included but if you are making arrangements privately, check what the owner’s pet insurance will cover – for peace of mind, you may wish to set up your own specialist insurance with a pet insurance company.

Appear on TV

If you have time to spare during the working week, you might be able to get work as an extra in a TV show or film. You don’t need experience – all you need is to be able to turn up when you are required and follow instructions from the director.

The best way to get work is to register with a casting agency such as Casting Collective (Castingcollective.co.uk) or Ray Knight Casting (Rayknight.co.uk).

At the time of writing, Casting Collective, was looking for men and women in Bristol of all ages for a 1950s Laurel and Hardy film being shot in Bristol, as well as men and women of all ages and ethnicities for a major new feature film in and around Cardington, Bedfordshire. 

You’ll need to provide a selection of photographs, your measurements, passport details and a national insurance number. Also tell them about any skills you might have that could get you more or better paid work – for example, whether you can dance or play a particular sport. 

They will also want to know the ins and outs of your wardrobe – in particular, whether you have any uniforms. Ray Knight Casting, for example, promotes the fact it has lots of people on its books that can supply their own police uniform.

Rates depend on where in the country you are working, what you will need to do or say and which of the three main union agreements the production uses. As a guide, extras working in the South East can expect between £70 and £100 for a nine-hour day, however a slice of this will be taken by your agent as commission (Casting Collective charges a 15% commission).

Become a life model

Richard Jordan (pictured below), 68, from Bristol, was lucky enough to retire from his job as an operations director for a haulage company in his early 50s, but he’s still earning money to keep his income topped up.

Richard, a naturist, regularly models for still life art classes. “I do it about two to three times a week at the moment with art schools and colleges. I was lucky to get £7 an hour when I started, but now it’s between £12 and £15 an hour.” 

Although he finds the work therapeutic, he says it’s not easy money. “You need to be able to think about what you are doing and hold a pose for up to an hour. I’m always tired at the end, but I do put down much of my fitness to the modelling.”

Richard says anyone can model for art classes and that it’s your attitude that’s more important than your body shape. “Being waxed and toned isn’t what it’s about,” he says. “It’s about the human body in all its forms.”

He also says there’s a lot of demand for the right models. “Colleges find it difficult to find people who are reliable and have the right attitude,” he says. If this is for you, give your local art college a call. 

In addition to modelling, Richard also runs a naturist campsite from land he owns south of Bristol. “It’s not a big money maker, but it means that our holiday home is paid for by the campers and the Christmas trees we sell down there,” he says.

Rent a room

If you’ve got the room to spare, taking in a lodger can be a fantastic money-spinner – especially as the government’s rent a room scheme enables you to earn up to £7,500 each year without paying any tax on your rental income.

Jan Knight (pictured below), 64, who works in charity management, lets out two rooms in her home in Willesden Green, north-west London, via the website Spareroom.co.uk.  “We’ve got two sons in their late 20s and since they’ve moved out we’ve had the space to do it,” she says. “It’s a good form of income, but when the government introduced the rent-a-room scheme it became even better as that income is now tax free.”

Jan, and her husband Keith who has retired, charge £550 a calendar month for one room and £480 for the second, which is only available Monday to Friday, so that they have space for their sons to visit at weekends. Jan says: “The extra money allows us to spend money on the house – it makes a noticeable difference to the family finances.”

But Jan and Keith enjoy other benefits than simply cash. “The people we’ve had are mostly great and, in some cases, you end up loving them to bits! There is also such a shortage of housing in London that it feels good to be doing our bit,” says Jan. “Another perk is that there is always someone at home to feed the cat when we go on holiday.”

Jan and Keith have found it quick and easy to fill their rooms. “When we’ve advertised a room late on a Thursday, it’s generally gone by the end of the weekend,” says Jan. “The fact that Spareroom.co.uk has a downloadable contract to use is great too.”

Sell homemade crafts

If you’re artistic or crafty, it’s never been easier to sell your wares. Rather than relying on stalls at fetes and fairs, sites such as Etsy and Folksy enable you to bring your creations to the masses, 24/7.

Etsy charges 16p to list an item and then you pay a 3.5% commission and a 4% plus 20p payment-processing fee. Folksy’s basic package charges 15p plus VAT per item listed plus 6% plus VAT in commission.

Alternatively, you can sell for free on social media platforms such as Facebook – join local groups and networks so you won’t be limited to selling to your own friends or contacts.

Clear clutter

Ebay is an easy way to earn money from the contents of your loft or the kids’ old bedrooms. There are also plenty of people that actively search out bargains at car boot sales and the like and then sell them on to the highest bidder online in the hope of turning a profit. But there are other ways to cash in on your clutter too. 

Carole Edge (pictured below), a 63-year-old retiree from Sandhurst in Berkshire, has taken clutter clearance to a new level by selling what she regarded as junk via the website VintageCashCow.co.uk. “We moved house a while ago and had so much clutter,” she says. “There were things of ours and from both sets of our parents.”

Carole saw an advert for the website on Facebook and although she was a bit dubious at first, she decided to give it a go because it was free. “I packed up a shoebox of things such as watches and old jewellery, most of it broken and not working. There were some cut-glass candlesticks, old coins, some pearls that I didn’t know were real or not. It was just junk really.”

Carole sent the box off using the prepaid labels and packaging that Vintage Cash Cow sent and on receipt of the items she was offered a quote which she decided to accept. “There was nothing in the box that I was sorry to lose and I got around £400. I was gobsmacked!”

Now that she’s seen how smoothly the process works, she’s considering packing up another box of items that she knows are of greater value. “I would recommend it to anyone who has all this sort of stuff accumulated,” she says.

Take online surveys

If you like voicing your opinions, why not get paid for them? Online survey websites will send surveys to your inbox and the more you complete, the more you will earn. You could be quizzed on anything from your political views, to TV, radio, new product launches or an advertising campaign.

Each site operates differently, so make sure you know how it works and how you’ll be paid.

Among the most popular sites is I-say.com, which is run by Ipsos. It pays between 5p and £1.80 per survey and once you’ve racked up £10 you can claim your payment in vouchers for retailers including Amazon, Argos, Boots and John Lewis.  

Other ways to boost your income

  • Experienced medical secretaries can top up their income by typing up letters and medical reports for doctors through websites such as DICT8, which says that you can earn from around £500 to £1,000 a month working a couple of hours a day.
  • Teachers can get extra income from private tutoring. According to Tutorpages.com, the average rate for academic tutoring up to age 14 is between £30.40 and £32 an hour.
  • Musicians can earn around £33.20 an hour teaching musical instruments (Tutorpages.com).
  • If you have car parking space, you don’t need and live close to a train station, airport, town centre, hospital, sports or entertainment venue, plenty of people will pay to use it. JustPark.com matches space owners with drivers that need to park, and it’s free to list your space. A space near St Alban’s train station in Hertfordshire, for example, which is a 20-minute commute to London, would net you around £5 a day. 
  • If you have time to spare in May and June, why not look into becoming an exam invigilator at a local school or college. Experience may not be required, but you will need a DBS check. Average earnings are around £10 an hour.
  • Your home doesn’t need to be stately to make it appealing to film-makers. You can market your home to production companies via agencies such as Amazingspaces.co.uk or The Collective (Location-collective.co.uk). Homes around London are most in demand. Amazing Spaces says earnings start from £100 a day for a small photoshoot to £2,000 a day for filming.

Do I need to tell the taxman?

In the current tax year (2017/18), everyone is able to earn £11,500 before they have to pay tax. However, for the first time this personal allowance is being boosted by two separate new income tax allowances for so-called ‘micro-entrepreneurs’.

The new property and trading allowances, which were introduced in April this year, enable people to earn £1,000 from property and £1,000 for selling goods without paying income tax on those earnings.

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

You have forgotten to mention being a guinea pig for laboratories trying out new medications

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks for the useful information which will go along way in helping to make additional income during my retirement. You have also provided a detailed list backed up with useful websites.

Pensioner who needs an extra £70 per week to pay rent etc!

Finding the household bills going up and up. Lost home on 100% mortgage 5 years ago, private rent increases every year.

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