When you think ahead toward retirement, chances are you feel a range of emotions — spanning from joy to excitement to fear. How will you occupy your days? Will you have enough income, or will you need to pursue creative ways to support yourself? Adding to these considerations is the fact that “traditional” retirement — when people went straight from working full time to not working at all — has changed. We’re living longer than previous generations, which means we can explore new interests and spend time with the people who matter most. As such, we need to find ways to stretch our income further. Many of us are working longer than retirees in the past. Instead of retiring around age 62, we are likely to continue working in some capacity into our 70s.

Given today’s retirement realities, it’s crucial to think about how you define retirement and how you intend to manage your income. It may seem intimidating at first, but this challenge can bring amazing possibilities. You may be able to gradually scale back at your current job, turn a hobby into a business, or even launch a “second act” in a new career instead of transitioning to a life of leisure all at once.

Taking a Thoughtful Approach to Retirement

There are several benefits to having a plan and being thoughtful in your retirement approach. Besides providing additional income and more time to save, it’ll also keep you active at your preferred pace. The longer you work, even if it’s just a little, may help delay the need to tap into your retirement savings, pensions and Social Security. Generally, the longer you can hold off on collecting Social Security, the better. If you want to find out what your estimated monthly Social Security retirement benefit will be, check your Social Security statement. The Social Security Administration recently began mailing copies of this statement to workers who pay Social Security taxes. If you don’t receive a copy in the mail, you can also access your statement by visiting the Social Security Administration website. While you’re there, think about creating your own personal “My Social Security” page. Whether you are close to retirement or not, it’s one of the best ways to begin learning about this important benefit. It’s not a bad idea to review the earnings record that Social Security has on file for you. It’s better to correct any errors sooner rather than later.

For those of you who find yourselves with a big gap between how much you think you’ll need and how much you think you’ll have, you may want to consider a phased approach to retiring. Get an overall sense of what your financial picture may look like in retirement. A calculator is a great place to start. A Financial Professional can also talk you through different retirement scenarios for your circumstances, and help you plan accordingly.

Ideas for Earning Extra Income

The first place to start is your current job. As an experienced employee, you have a lot of value to offer your company. Your employer may be open to having you working part time, or move into a role that’s less demanding or requires fewer hours. Some people leave their full-time jobs but continue to work in their field as a contractor or consultant. This gives you the freedom to pick and choose how much you want to work.

Another option is to share the professional expertise you’ve gained over the years with others. Some of the best and most inspiring tutors, instructors and speakers out there are people in semi-retirement.

Remember there’s no rule saying you have to stay in your current profession. Some people use their retirement to reinvent themselves in completely different careers or businesses. For example, Author Frank McCourt didn’t start writing until he was in his sixties, after a thirty-year career as an English teacher. His memoir, Angela’s Ashes, became a runaway bestseller and won the Pulitzer Prize. Not bad for a first effort.

With help from online marketplace and auction sites like Etsy and eBay you can turn a hobby — anything from knitting sweaters to collecting antiques — into a business. There are also websites like Taskrabbit and Craigslist where you can find odd jobs or offer your services for things like tax preparation, repairs, babysitting or eldercare.

Enjoy the Retirement You Deserve

Thinking about what you’ll do or how you’ll manage your retirement income may feel overwhelming. Planning, doing a little research and asking questions can help make a real difference. Remember, there are opportunities to earn a little extra income in retirement so you can feel more confident about your financial security — while still enjoying the leisure and freedom you deserve after years of hard work.


The information contained in this article is not intended or written as specific legal or tax advice and may not be relied on for purposes of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Neither MassMutual nor any of its employees or representatives are authorized to give legal or tax advice. You must rely on the advice of your own independent tax counsel.