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How to save money in a 'sharing economy'

Created date

June 24th, 2015

How would you like a part-time job where you set your own hours and work from the comfort of your own home or car? Sound too good to be true? An increasing number of workers making money in the so-called “sharing economy” are proving that it can be done. 

Broadly speaking, the sharing economy is a new and burgeoning system to exchange things—time, skills, possessions—for money. Many businesses have popped up to connect people in need of goods and services with people who can provide them. One of the most popular and widely publicized models is ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft that enable just about anyone who has a vehicle to earn money giving people rides. 

People who are retired from their full-time jobs are some of the best candidates to make a little cash in the sharing economy.

Myriad opportunities

“We’re starting to see retirees join the sharing economy more than ever for a variety of reasons, including having free time, the desire to still work, and the ability to earn extra money,” says Harry Campbell, who blogs about ridesharing at therideshareguy.com.

The ways you can earn money in the sharing economy are varied and growing every day. The amount you can earn depends on how much you want to work. 

“The best thing about the sharing economy can also be the worst,” Campbell says. “The flexibility is great, but it also means you don’t make any money if you don’t work. So the pay can vary from one week to another based on that and the fact that there are a number of factors like demand, rates, etc., that are beyond [your] control.”

Lidia Shong, who helps people with retirement planning at aboutLife (aboutlife.com), reminds retirees working in the sharing economy that they have to pay taxes on their income, which could bump them into a higher bracket. And jobs in the sharing economy may not offer as much stability as traditional employment.

“Some of these job opportunities may not be around in the long term, so it’s important to consider this is likely to be a short-term fix to delay getting into your retirement savings and Social Security,” Shong says. 

If you’re doing work that requires people to come into your home, Shong reminds you to protect yourself with proper insurance. “While many companies will provide some insurance coverage, it’s important to understand what is covered or not,” she says.

Want to get in on the sharing economy? Here are some popular services to check out:

• Uber (uber.com) and Lyft (lyft.com): Vehicle owners earn money giving rides.

• DogVacay (dogvacay.com) and Rover (rover.com): Make money pet sitting in your own home.

• Verlocal (verlocal.com) and CanaryHop (facebook.com/CanaryHop): Earn money by teaching people how to knit, cook, fish, hunt, or anything else you know how to do.

• Lesson Plan Pro (lessonplanpro.com): An online forum for teachers to buy and sell educational materials.

• HourlyNerd (hourlynerd.com): Retired executives can connect with companies that need consulting services.

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