The un-retirement years - why baby boomers are joining the gig economy

When people think of the gig economy, they mostly think of millennials, students and youngsters. But, there’s evidence that quite a lot seniors are taking up the opportunities in the gig economy.

Dog walker image

In the gig economy, instead of a regular wage, workers get paid for the "gigs" they do. Gigging, at its broadest definition, refers to a world where workers take on individual projects and other freelance work rather than signing on with one long-term employer. Gigging is exciting, varied, flexible and it gives choice. 

In today’s world people are living into their 80s and 90s whilst keeping healthy and active, and are staying in the workforce for longer. The share of both men and women aged over 65 in the workforce has increased dramatically in the last two decades. 

With a few decades ahead to take a second bite, today’s retirees are primed for new adventures before they even think about getting old. For seniors, boomers, retirees and pre-retirees, the gig economy is an ideal way to bolster their income during the unretirement years, and here’s why.

The rise of the gig economy

The gig economy has become a cultural phenomenon as increasing numbers of independent contractors work on jobs assigned via a digital platform. About 2.5 million Australians are now employed on a casual basis, according to The Australian Bureau of Statistics. That’s more than a quarter of the workforce. Unions NSW has estimated that casual digital platform jobs add $504 million to its home state’s economy annually and provides income for 45,000 residents.*

Baby Boomers around the world are more likely to choose the flexibility offered by casual or contract work than younger generations. A 2017 Prudential Financial survey suggests 31 per cent of workers in America’s gig economy are Baby Boomers and 34 per cent of those workers are retired.^

The gig economy not only allows people to choose their hours and work times that best suit, but also increase or decrease their workload depending on their needs. In fact, over 60s not only form a substantial part of the gig economy, but they really like it! Many state that it allows them to incorporate interesting times into their life with ‘out of your comfort zone’ experiences.

Extra income

The gig economy is a heaven-sent opportunity for baby boomers to generate income. Many boomers who have chosen to retire, or perhaps found themselves involuntarily retired due to a retrenchment, want extra cash to supplement retirement savings and pension while they're still young and healthy enough to earn.

The supplementary income takes the pressure off the financial reality of retirement, where many people may have to live on a lower income. Although gigs may not pay a fortune, it’s likely enough to pay for lunches out with friends, annual holidays, or being able to help the kids out. 

Social interaction

The opportunity to meet new people outside your immediate circle at a time of life that can be isolating is huge draw, it can make you feel part of the world we’re living in. So if retirement boredom sets in – cheer up, we live in a gig economy. Gigging is a way to stay connected with the world, meet interesting people and feel like you have a purpose.

Flexibility

Another big attraction of gigging is its flexibility. You have the control over how much, when and where you work as you juggle other priorities in life. If you need to be home to look after a sick grandchild, you can. 

The right gig for you

There’s no harm in finding out about what the gig economy has to offer.  At worst, you’ll have some stories to tell, but you might find something that gives you a new lease on life.  So here we go.

Nowadays, people first think of Uber or well-known gigs in delivering food for Deliveroo or UberEats. But there are loads of different tasks you can do by logging onto a digital platform e.g. a handyman to hang pictures, a virtual assistant to type up a document, exam supervisors, dog walkers, babysitters, the list goes on.

Since gigs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, your starting point is to look at your inner worker and ask yourself what you want out of a gig.

Let’s say you want to combine earning a bit of money with getting exercise, and you love animals.  You may decide on dog walking, (try Mad Paws or your local Facebook group). You could do dog holidays too, where you look after dogs in your own home while the owners go on holiday.  

Young families aren’t getting as much support as they need these days and often need help with looking after their children. If you love children you could help parents with school pick-ups, or babysit when they need a date night (try Juggle Street). Who knows, you may end up being a surrogate grandparent!

If you’re a female, like driving but wary of Uber, you can try Shebah  - a driving service for female passengers only and their young children. Shebah drivers can pick up kids from school and drop them off at their after school activities. 

You may have a spare room in your house as the kids moved out, why not rent it out on Airbnb? If you’re handy try Airtasker, where since 2012 more than 1.6 million Australians have posted odd jobs they need doing. Or if you’re crafty why not open a store on Etsy? The gig economy is full of possibilities!

Having a source of income you generate yourself, keeps you plugged into society in a real way. The gig economy helps you have skin in the game. And you can take comfort that a lot of people manage to make a real go of it.  

Get the right advice 

Like the sound of gigging but not sure if it will affect your super or government entitlements?  Speak to a Financial Adviser from TelstraSuper Financial Planning over the phone at no additional cost by calling 1300 033 166 or filling out our online contact form.

 *https://www.afr.com/boss/gig-economy-explainer-the-phenomenon-rocking-the-way-we-work-20180514-h101t9

^https://www.smh.com.au/money/super-and-retirement/why-the-gig-economy-is-a-no-brainer-for-baby-boomers-20180726-p4ztv4.html