By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
If your career is winding down, you can plan now to supplement your retirement income. Thanks to the “gig economy,” many people work for themselves.
Nation1099.com estimates that about 11% of U.S. adults work full time as freelancers. But many work part-time as a freelancer or in addition to a regular job.
One of the many perks about gig work is that you choose how much or how little you care to work. The flexibility offers true freedom while still bringing in some money and keeping you as active as you’d like.
Instead of the hassle of starting your own business, try one of these easy ways to get a gig.
Sign up for ride sharing apps like Uber (www.uber.com) or Lyft (www.lyft.com) or delivery services like Grub Hub (www.grubhub.com) or Door Dash (www.doordash.com). If you have a smartphone, good driving record and a late-model vehicle in good condition, just add a friendly demeanor and you’re ready. The app allows you to choose when and where you want to drive. By maintaining good ratings with top-notch service, more business comes your way any time you’re available.
2. Mystery shopping
Also known as secret shopping, this gig involves working as a contractor for a third party hired by a business that wants an honest opinion about its goods and services. For example, a fast food restaurant wants to know if its employees are keeping the place clean, using the approved signs and uniforms, recommending additional items and overall presenting the right image. If you have a PayPal account (most pay this way), can observe and remember many details and can follow the many rules of the shop, you can get free goods and services (from oil changes to clothing to meals out) and a small stipend for your time. You can stack up several evaluations in a single day or snap them up whenever you’d like. Sign up at Sinclair (www.sinclaircustomermetrics.com), Best Mark (https://apply.bestmark.com), Market Force (www.marketforce.com/become-a-mystery-shopper) and Intelli-shop (www.intelli-shop.com/shoppers). Avoid scamming entities that ask for money upfront.
3. Selling your skills
By now, you are really good at what you do. Many websites offer an easy way to sell your knowledge as a contract worker. As with mystery shopping, don’t sign up for a site that requires money upfront. Although some provide premium membership, they at least allow participation for free. Try Guru (www.guru.com), Elance (www.elanc.com) or Upwork (www.upwork.com) for selling business, artistic, legal, writing, secretarial, sales, engineering, architectural, programming and other skills. While the people seeking workers aren’t necessarily all rock solid and paying top rates, they’re generally vetted and you can safeguard your payment by opting for secured funds paid to the site and held by them until you complete the project.
4. Selling your expertise
If you enjoy mentoring and teaching, then instructing online through Udemy (www.udemy.com) or Varsity Tutors (www.varsitytutors.com) to share your knowledge with the world.
5. Doing errands
You’re likely your family’s go-to for help because you know how to do a lot and you have the time. Why not get paid to help others? Tasks such as childcare, tutoring, personal care, cleaning, home repairs and dog walking are available at sites like Care (www.care.com) and Takl (www.takl.com).
CPA: How Gig Work Affects Your Taxes
Consider how gig work affects your financial status if you’re drawing on Social Security.
G. Joseph Votava, Jr., CPA, tax lawyer and financial adviser with 30 years of experience, is CEO of Seneca Financial Advisors, LLC in Rochester. He said that if you’re not at full retirement age and you draw on Social Security, the Social Security benefit will be reduced by $1 for each $2 you earn in excess of $19,240 (for 2020).
“Starting with the month you attain your full retirement age [status], your benefits will no longer be reduced,” Votava said.
If your goal is just to flex your entrepreneurial muscle, stay active and earn some pin money (providing your definition of “pin money” is less than $19,240), then don’t worry about it.
Votava also reminds would-be gig workers to remember that since they’re not employees, they’ll have to pay self-employment tax and quarterly estimated tax payments. It adds up fast.
“Normally, an employee pays half of this and the employer pays the other half, but when you are independent, you pay both halves yourself,” Votava said. “So instead of a 7.65% tax, they have a 15.3% tax on top of the federal and state income taxes.”
He added that once retirees are 65 and drawing on Medicare, they must make sure that their income falls below the thresholds for the surcharges for Medicare B and D premiums, as a result of the Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA).
“There are various brackets depending on whether they are single or married,” Votava said. “The higher the income, the higher the surcharges. This is a much more complex topic, but nonetheless one that is often overlooked when generating extra income in retirement.”
The freelance workforce is growing at four times the rate of the workforce overall. Experienced independent professionals who can find and communicate with serious clients are the future of work.
of U.S. workers are full-time freelance
U.S. workers will enter this group in the next 3 years
earners are the fastest growing segment of freelancers