To live out their retirement years in relative bliss, people traditionally count on multiple sources of income -- investments, retirement funds, pension plans, and Social Security. For many, however, the recession sapped one or more of their income sources and derailed plans for post-work life, which now calls for a little money-making creativity. From renting out an empty bedroom to working a part-time job in retail, retirees are handling the setback with aplomb.

Here are 10 ways that retirees can gin up a little extra cash or, say, get free housing:

1. Micro-gardening.

Carving out a plot in your backyard to grow peppery mizuna greens or woody perennials may not make you millions, but it could supplement your income without taking over your schedule. "Depending on how you choose your project, it can be relatively low demand as far as your time," says John Tullock, author of Pay Dirt: How to Make $10,000 a Year From Your Backyard Garden. When it comes to micro-gardening, the most time-consuming and energy-demanding thing to do is grow vegetables and then sell them at a farmers' market or through a Community Supported Agriculture arrangement, where customers purchase shares of a harvest ahead of the season in exchange for regular deliveries.

The less demanding -- albeit less trendy -- method is growing nursery stock and selling it to local garden centers, Tullock advises. You can approach the garden centers before planting to see if there's demand for the product you want to grow. Or ask them, "What can't you get that you would like to have?" says Tullock. You can also offer to grow something unusual that their competitors won't be selling. The advantage of this arrangement is that "you know there's a market for what you're going to grow in a year," Tullock says. If you agree to grow perennials and you're selling them for about $4 per one-gallon container, most garden centers could use several hundred. That means you could pocket $1,000 to $2,000. This is easier if you have gardening experience. Neophytes who are interested should be cautious, do a great deal of research, and, ideally, enroll in classesat a local college.

2. Work-camping.

For adventurers who own RVs, work-camping (also called workamping) can offset the costs of enjoying America on wheels. Paid work-campers typically exchange their labor for a free camping site and pay that's around minimum wage, and often work for private companies that operate public parks. Some "camp hosts" share responsibility for large campgrounds, while others host smaller campgrounds alone. "There's usually a lot of flexibility," says Warren Meyer, president of Recreation Resource Management, which administers about 150 parks for various government bodies. "Most of these guys don't want to work 60 hours a week." Responsibilities might include greeting visitors, collecting fees, cleaning campground bathrooms, and raking leaves.

3. Tax preparation.

Many short-term jobs that are good fits for retirees are related to financial services, particularly tax assistance, says Tim Driver, CEO of, a website for job seekers 50 and older. Companies like H&R Block, for one, requires applicants to pass an income-tax training course and exam, while individuals with previous experience may be able to test out of the course.

4. Crafts.

When Morgan Hoth was a teacher, she spent the school year instructing students with learning disabilities and summers experimenting with arts and crafts -- weaving rugs, then hauling them outside to spray with dye, for example."By the time I had retired, I had been playing for 30 years," Hoth says. Today, the Virginia-based artist sells painted scarves and wraps made of stonewashed crepe de Chine -- hot coral pink gladiolas on a lemon-yellow background, bright pink hyacinths on robin's egg blue, or raspberry-hued autumn leaves scattered across a kaleidoscope of color. Watercolor-like designs decorate lightweight silk chiffon. Even neckties are a canvas for Hoth, who sells her pieces in a couple of online shops and through a personal website, "I went to Europe last year on my money," she says.

Perhaps the best-known site Hoth uses to sell her wares is, where her pieces range from about $30 to $125. Etsy is an online marketplace for creative crafts makers and artists of all stripes. MaryLou Holvenstot worked at Abbott Laboratories in northern Illinois for nearly 27 years and retired about four years ago. She sells intricate woven beaded jewelry in wide wrist cuffs and long, snake-like cords on Etsy, which "has been a creative outlet and a good source of income," Holvenstot says. Pat Parker, 70, of Weston, Fla., discovered pottery after a career as a dietitian. "Selling my pottery on Etsy has paid for all my expenses, kiln and potters wheel, clay, glaze, materials, schooling, conventions, books and magazines, websites, and some left over," Parker says. Etsy charges sellers a small listing fee--20 cents to display an item for four months -- and a 3.5 percent commission when items are sold.

5. Caregiving.

While many Americans, particularly baby boomers, have taken on the role of caregiver without being paid, there are opportunities to earn a paycheck. "Caregiving for hire is a fast-growing area," says Driver of Employers are looking for people who are certified nurses as well as people without any healthcare experience, Driver says. One company that has advertised openings on RetirementJobs is Home Instead Senior Care, a franchise network of in-home care providers. Non-medical care positions could include home helpers who assist with light housekeeping or caregivers who help with personal care and hygiene.

6. Board work.

There are nonprofit board member positions that are important to communities or causes, but they are generally volunteer positions. In the for-profit realm, board work can be highly lucrative for prominent corporate boards (Apple's non-employee directors were paid $633,000, or $127,000 per meeting, in 2008), but that's not the norm. "Pay tends to be varied," says Ted Warren, president and senior partner of Strategic Resources, an executive recruiting firm.

Board members are generally compensated for their time. Some companies pay directors with stock options. "Sometimes the per diem rates are pretty attractive," Warren says. "Sometimes people are on a retainer plus per diem." Most board work won't replace a retired executive's previous full-time income, but it can keep retirees energized and engaged. Firms may look for directors with experience in the same industry, or may prefer an individual with specific skills -- in marketing or logistics, for example. "Sometimes we'll have a client who wants to go outside the industry," Warren says. "They're looking for a skill set or a maybe a set of contacts." In general, "a strong Rolodex is always a plus." Board positions are often filled through networking.

7. Tutoring.

The many subjects in which students need tutors include mathematics, standardized test preparation, foreign languages, and even health and nutrition. Tutoring tends to be a popular category on RetirementJobs, Driver says. Companies such as Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Services and Sylvan Learning Center post openings on its website. Expect to earn as much as $20 an hour, although pay varies widely.

8. Caretaking.

Care to spend your days living in the caretaker's cabin of a national historic site? Or caring for a multimillion-dollar home in northern California? Some caretaking positions are longer term and others last just a week or two and involve caring for pets when homeowners are on a vacation. There are many reasons that positions are listed with the Caretaker Gazette, a newsletter published since 1983, says Publisher Gary Dunn. It could be that someone has inherited a home that's a great distance from where he or she lives and needs a caretaker after a break-in. Wealthy clients may need caretakers for their second and third homes. These days, real estate investors are stuck with homes they can't sell and therefore need caretakers to keep out vandals who could, for example, strip out copper piping. Some assignments are simple housesitting arrangements, while others might require caretaking of a small inn or motel -- or even an island -- and they generally include salary and benefits.

9. Fellowship.

A program called Encore Fellowships places veteran for-profit workers in fellowships with nonprofit organizations that have a social mission. Working for six months or a year, the fellows get a $25,000 stipend as they delve into social-purpose work and share their professional experience (in, say, marketing or financial management, or strategic planning). Last year's fellows were Silicon Valley veterans who spent their fellowships in San Francisco Bay-area nonprofits involved primarily in environmental or education causes, such as after-school programs. Civic Ventures, the think tank that runs the program, plans to expand it to 100 fellows in five states by the end of this year.

10. Return temping.

At the National Institutes of Health, retirees are given the opportunity to return for temporary work assignments as well as consulting or contract work. (They can even opt for part-time jobs or full-time positions.) When last year's stimulus sparked a need for more staff, NIH asked recent retirees if they'd come back to the office for a temporary stint. NIH isn't alone; many universities offer similar gigs, and agriculture giant Monsanto has been bringing retirees back for temp jobs since the 1990s. If this kind of gig appeals to you, explore the options with your past employer.


Personal Finance - 10 Great & Uncommon Sources of Income in Retirement

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