An illustration of a dollar bill sprouting like a plant to illustrate the idea of generating income in retirement.

How can I make money in retirement?

If you’re starting to worry that you should have saved more money before retiring, you’re definitely not alone. In a 2014 survey by TIAA-CREF, 47% of people 55-64 years old said they regretted not saving a larger percentage of their paychecks throughout their career. Perhaps you feel that you’ll need to supplement your income in order to cover the basics in retirement. Or maybe you’d just like more wiggle room for travel, hobbies, and other expenses. Regardless of your motivations, there are many ways to make money in retirement.

Common income sources in retirement

Personal savings and Social Security are the most traditional sources of income for retirees. However, many people seek out additional sources of income. Below you’ll find multiple ways people supplement their cash flow in retirement.

Social Security

Social Security is the most common type of income in retirement. If you worked and paid income taxes for at least ten years, you are probably eligible for Social Security benefits. The amount that you receive from Social Security each month depends on a variety of factors. How long you’ve worked and when you decide to start collecting social security are the most important factors. As a general rule of thumb, your benefits will increase the longer you wait to begin taking social security. To see how much you can expect from Social Security, use our free Social Security Optimizer to estimate your benefits.

Retirement accounts

You’re probably already familiar with the most standard types of retirement accounts, including 401ks and IRAs. In the past, when pension plans and retirement benefits were more common, it was easier for people to maintain their standard of living with the funds they had put aside for retirement throughout their careers. However, it is becoming less and less common for people to be able to survive on their retirement savings alone. If you’d like to get a better idea of whether you’ve saved enough to retire, check out the following article.

Savings accounts

Social Security may be enough for day-to-day expenses, but some people use other types of savings accounts for less consistent expenses. This can include everything from unexpected medical costs to big trips. It’s nice to have some amount of money readily accessible; however, keep in mind that the funds within standard savings accounts don’t typically experience significant growth via interest. Because of this, savings accounts aren’t the best option for those who hope to increase their savings through investment. Most retirees will not keep a majority of their retirement funds in a savings account; however, many do report maintaining a savings account as a minor source of income.

Pension plans

The traditional pension plan is meant to provide a steady stream of income for the rest of your life upon retirement. In the past, many employers provided pension plans as a benefit to employees who worked with the company for a certain amount of time, through a process called “vesting.” While fewer and fewer companies are providing their employees with pension plans, if you’re a baby boomer or work in a government job, you may have access to a pension. You can read more about pension plans here.

Home equity

It’s becoming more popular among retirees to leverage home equity as supplemental income. This can be done through a reverse mortgage, downsizing to a smaller space, or possibly relocating to a more affordable area. In any of these cases, the profit you make from your home equity can be a great boon to your retirement income. Have you been thinking about making a move in retirement? Check out this article for some guidance in identifying your ideal retirement locale.


If you have been putting money into the stock market over the years, you can use any profits you’ve made from those investments to supplement your income in retirement. If you haven’t already, it’s never too late to try and increase your savings by investing. Just be sure to do your research or to consult with a financial advisor before making any big decisions, especially if you’re new to the investment world. We’ll be talking more about various investment options in future articles, but Kiplinger provides a lot of great information for beginners in their article, “How to Invest After You Retire.


Similar to pensions, annuities can provide a consistent stream of income to you over a specific period of time. People will often purchase an annuity when they first retire, funding the investment with a large amount of savings they held onto specifically for retirement. If you’re considering buying an annuity, read our primer here.

Rent and royalties

If you have property (housing, intellectual, etc.) and you’re able to collect rent or royalties from its use, this could be a great passive stream of income. If you have multiple properties, for example, you can live in the smaller of the two and rent out the larger space on a permanent or temporary basis. Online platforms like VRBO and Airbnb empower property owners to rent out their homes, apartments, and even single rooms to other users on their sites. These are also great options to consider if you plan to travel for long periods of time during retirement.

Part-time job

If you’re finding it hard to stretch your monthly income, you may want to consider taking on some part-time work. Consulting and freelancing are both great options for those with professional skill sets from their previous careers. There are plenty of online platforms you can use to find employers who are looking for seasoned professionals to help them with short-term projects or contract work. If you’d rather try something new, the opportunities are practically endless. You can explore some ideas for part-time work here.

Related articles, tools, videos, and more

Renew has tons of great resources to help you figure out retirement.

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Not sure where to start?

Read our quick-start guide for help, including which questions you should be asking as you approach retirement.

Read our quick start guide

Group Created with Sketch.
Not sure where to start?

Read our quick-start guide for help, including which questions you should be asking as you approach retirement.

Read our quick start guide