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When it Comes to Making Money in Retirement, is $500 Better than $100,000?

By Margaret Manning February 10, 2019 Managing Money

Do you know what older adults fear most? Is it death? Nope. Getting a serious illness? Not even close. According to a survey by the financial company Allianz, baby boomers fear running out of money in retirement more than anything else.

Specifically, they found that 43% of boomers feared outliving their savings. That’s more than the percentage of people who feared cognitive decline and loneliness combined!

As a woman in her 60s, I can totally relate to these numbers. There is nothing more terrifying than the idea of not having enough money when I need it most. In addition, like many women, the idea that I might have to rely on my family for support in my later years is horrifying.

Unfortunately, by the time we reach our mid-60s, we are running low on options to increase our retirement savings. This is especially true once we leave our careers behind and start to rely on our savings to supplement our pension and Social Security income.

Does Our Sense of Helplessness Hold Us Back in Retirement?

Part of the problem, of course, is that the amount of money that you need to add to your retirement fund to generate significant income feels overwhelming. For example, let’s say that you managed to save an extra $100,000 in your 60s. At 5% interest, this additional money would give you about $417 per month – not a small amount, but, also not huge, considering how hard it would be for most of us to save $100,000.

Side note – Yes, I know that I am over-simplifying here. On the one hand, getting a steady 5% return without taking significant risks is difficult. On the other hand, I realize that you could also use some of the principle (amount invested) in your later years. Still, 5% is a good number for illustrative purposes.

The bigger issue here is that, even if we are still working, very few of us could earn $100,000 in just a few years. So, as we approach retirement, our fears grow and our confidence fades. We start to feel helpless to change our financial situation.

When is $500 More Important than $100,000?

The more I talk with women in their 60s and 70s, the more convinced I become that our concept of retirement is holding us back. Most of us think of retirement as a destination. We draw a solid line between our “working years” and our “retirement years.” As a result, when we reach retirement, we chain our expectations to our passive income. We believe that, for better or for worse, we’re done.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there is an alternative. Instead of settling for a lower standard of living in retirement, we can take control of our financial lives. Instead of relying on our Social Security income, we can look for creative ways of making money in retirement.

At this point, some of you will push back and say that you’re done working. Others will argue that you don’t have the skills to start a business. Still others will say that, after spending decades in positions of responsibility, you have no desire to take a low-paying temporary job.

I hear you. I really do. To be clear, I’m not saying that retirees should look for full-time work – unless they want to! Instead, I am arguing that every single person who is reading this article has the power to make $500 to $1,000 a month doing something that makes them happy.

Making Money in Retirement is Possible

If you don’t believe me, I highly encourage you to read this article that I posted with 60 ways to make money after 60. More importantly, take the time to read the comments at the bottom of the article. When you do, you will see that there are 100s of people just like you who have found ways of making money in retirement.

Some women are making artisan soap. Others are writing romance novels. We have people in our community doing freelance marketing work, designing jewelry, tutoring high school kids, pet sitting and organizing city tours.

The important thing is that you don’t have to create a big business to make a big impact on your retirement income. If you make $500 a month, you are getting the same income that you would have received if you managed to save an extra $100,000.

To be clear, I’m not saying that you should abandon the idea of adding money to your retirement account. Every dollar saved will add to your security. But, if you reach retirement without the retirement savings that you hoped for, don’t lose hope!

With just a little creativity, you can create a $100,000 retirement income in your spare time… and let’s face it, we have a lot of that now!

How are you making money in retirement? Are you concerned that you might outlive your retirement savings? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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