Dear Penny: Do I Tell My Mother-in-Law Her Retirement Plans Are Screwed?

Dear Penny,

My in-laws are hardworking folks who have never had much money, nor have they been good at managing it.

By his mid-20s, my partner was already in a caretaker role with them both with some light money management and my father-in-law’s extensive health issues. This care is part of what made me fall in love with him. He’s been able to hold firm boundaries through the years, allowing us to help when needed but still enjoy our warm relationship with them.

Several years ago, an elderly family member became ill. This family member was close to my in-laws a long time ago, but they’d lost touch as everyone aged. When this family member’s power of attorney attempted to defraud her, my in-laws stepped in to manage her finances and her medical care since she has no other living family.

It quickly became clear this task went beyond my in-laws’ abilities. While they didn’t want our help, my partner eventually had to intervene. This family member was about to be homeless, and my in-laws were essentially clueless. My partner was able to secure federal benefits for this family member that covered large portions of her care. This took a lot of the strain from my in-laws, and we thought all was well.

But we recently learned my in-laws took out a gigantic loan to cover some of this family member’s nursing expenses before she died last year. Not only is the loan huge, but the interest rate is terrible. My father-in-law told my partner they inherited a few thousand dollars from her, but they decided to keep it rather than apply it to the loan.

My father-in-law’s health continues to be poor, and my mother-in-law is beyond overwhelmed. My father-in-law has long been the manager of the family’s finances, but he’s terrible at it and my mother-in-law doesn’t like to intervene. It’s possible she’s not aware of the details of the loan. She’s close to retirement age, but this loan on top of their monthly expenses threatens her ability to retire completely.

With some assistance, I think they could manage the debt and even determine if any of this family member’s federal benefits will cover a portion of it. But is there any way to present this information in a way that they’ll accept? I’m tempted to use some direct language with them, like, “Without refinancing this loan you won’t be able to retire.” But my partner worries that will just add to my mother-in-law’s already paralyzing anxiety. 

What should they do first to manage this loan? Which financial services can we put them in touch with in the future so if they don’t want to come to us, great, they can go to this person?

-Loan, Loan Go Away

Dear Loan Go Away,

Your in-laws are adults who are allowed to make bad choices if they want. But unsolicited advice rarely goes well. Even when the motives are good, the person on the receiving end usually feels like they’re under attack. And if your mother-in-law already has severe anxiety, starting the advice by telling her that she may never be able to retire will make matters worse.

Your partner needs to take the lead here because these are his parents. He should try to make this a conversation instead of a lecture.

He should ask his parents if they’d be OK with sitting down to discuss a few financial matters. Tough conversations are best had when no one feels ambushed. Ideally, the three of them would have this discussion together.

Your partner should ask his parents some neutral questions. How big is the balance? How much is the interest rate? What are the monthly payments?

You say you’re not sure if your mother-in-law is aware of the details of the loan. But I wouldn’t assume your father-in-law is fully aware, either. Sometimes when people are overwhelmed by debt, they have no idea what they owe or what it’s costing them.

Once your partner gets the facts of the situation, then he can ask his parents how they’re feeling. Do they feel worried about whether they’ll be able to repay the loan? What about after his mother retires?

If your partner is worried that his parents can’t afford the loan, then he should say to them something to the effect of “I’m worried about whether you can afford these payments, but I think you have options. Could we discuss them?”

The point is to keep the message judgment-free. Telling your in-laws that they’ve made poor money management decisions will only put them on the defensive. But I’d urge your partner not to shy away from this discussion out of concern for his mother’s anxiety.

If your in-laws are willing to discuss their options, your partner could suggest they meet with a financial counselor. Unlike financial planners and financial advisers, who typically work with wealthier clients, financial counselors help lower- and middle-income clients with basic money management. They often work with clients struggling with debt.

You can search the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education’s website for a financial counselor in your state. Many charge on a sliding scale. If your in-laws are open to the idea, your partner could offer to pay the fees.

Bringing in a third party may be beneficial here. A professional isn’t going to have an emotional stake in this game. Plus, sometimes people are more willing to listen to guidance when it isn’t coming from family.

Ultimately, though, managing this loan is up to your in-laws, not you and your partner. Respect their boundaries, even if you don’t agree with their decisions.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected] or chat with her in The Penny Hoarder Community.

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18 Great Jobs For Retirees for Flexibility and Extra Cash

But true personal shoppers are more likely to purchase clothing and accessories than groceries. A personal shopper often finds items and then sends photos and descriptions to the person who hired them to get approval.

A security guard who does not carry a weapon serves as a presence to discourage inappropriate behavior. While many large businesses like Target or Wal-Mart hire security personnel from a service, small employers such as charitable or service organizations are likely to hire someone who is reliable and gives the appearance of authority.
You are more likely to work on an hourly wage determined by your experience and amount of work you are required to perform. There are also job firms that provide virtual assistants; you can sign on with them and accept work as it is offered to you.
School bus drivers can earn up to per hour. They have regular hours with the opportunity to earn extra for field trips or outings. Some states require a specific license (a Commercial Drivers License, or CDL, for example) or require you to pass a test to qualify.
Hourly pay for security guards without weapons training is likely to be between and . Night-time security guards are likely to make more than daytime ones.
Plan on some up-front costs, such as a portable bar (if the host doesn’t have one) and basic bar tools. The host is expected to supply the alcohol and mixers. And to protect against possible liability you might want to consider an annual liability policy.

18 Part-time Jobs for Retirees

Many small or civic organizations cannot afford, nor do they truly need, a full-time bookkeeper or accounting service. They are not in it for the money. Often, they are charitable or non-profit organizations. But they need occasional bookkeeping, often with an eye towards tax advantages.
Recent news reports indicate there are many job openings for school bus drivers.
There are no actual nanny or babysitter licenses or certifications in the United States, but many families require that nannies be bonded, which is a guarantee of service. It is a protection against someone failing to show up for work; one such failure forfeits the bond and that area of work is no longer available to that nanny.

1. Substitute Teaching

If you can memorize lots of cocktail recipes, if you have an outgoing personality and a steady hand, and if you’re willing to cut people off if needed, this could be a fit for you. Your best bet might be starting out tending bar for people you know and then building a network of referrals.
Some high-end clothing stores offer personal shopper services as well. These positions might be a little less “personal,” as they might be a one-day relationship. But the concept is the same.
Security guards who carry weapons require special training and weapons licensing, and is an entirely different job pursuit, perhaps not as well-suited to a retirement job.
Many people reach so-called retirement age and are in no way done with being productive. Many continue in freelance jobs and part-time gigs, whether in a brick-and mortar setting, from home, or even outdoors.

2. School Support

A part-time bookkeeper job often requires simple financial recordkeeping or upkeep of other financial records. Part-time bookkeepers are usually former accountants or have experience as a bookkeeper. They may be asked to track invoices, but most companies use financial services for paychecks.
You have a good head for numbers. You are in charge of your own finances, and you perhaps worked in an accounting role at a previous job.

3. Tutoring

While “retirement income’’ or “retirement job” might seem like oxymorons, they are a more reasonable pursuit today than in years past due to advancing life expectancies and improved health among older citizens.
Depending on the particulars of the job, a commercial driver’s license might be required. Different states have different laws regarding licensing for shuttle bus drivers. A different license might be required if the bus holds a certain number of people or is a particular weight. Your state motor vehicle website will tell you what’s required in your state, and any potential employer will know, too.
Freelance bartending doesn’t require bartending school and can earn you good money working at large events or small, private parties. Hourly pay for freelance bartenders can be anywhere from to even before tips.

A senior woman drives a school bus.
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4. School Bus Driver

According to Indeed, the average hourly pay for a freelance writer is a bit over , but you are often paid by assignment or by word, so the pay varies. If you have knowledge in certain topics like science and medicine, the pay can be higher.
As of this writing, Ziprecruiter showed more than 34,000 virtual assistant jobs, suggesting that a virtual assistant could make up to ,000 a year, depending on the work required.
Pay is often dependent on the age of the players and the competitive level of the organization, but officials are likely to make at least per game. At higher levels where certification is required, you can earn 0 per game.

5. Shuttle Bus Driver

There are dozens of different types of shuttle bus driver jobs. Most hotels have shuttles to and from airports. Senior citizen homes, churches and community centers often offer shuttles to shopping areas or grocery stores. Hourly pay for shuttle bus drivers can average above per hour, and that’s not including tips from satisfied riders. Like school bus drivers, shuttle bus drivers have regular hours.

6. Conducting Tours

Most of the examples here require your physical presence on-site, but there are remote jobs, too, such as virtual assistant and customer service work that can be done from the comfort of your home.
Child care might be a bit of a political football these days, but rarely has it been more necessary. Single parents or two-parent families that require or want two incomes are likely to need child care, and that could take the form of a nanny or frequent babysitter.
These positions can be part- or full-time, and they pay well. So if you plan to collect Social Security benefits, make sure to check how your wage impacts your benefits.
Many seasonal jobs are defined by the weather, which is defined by the time of year and the climate where you live. Seasonal jobs are popular, never go out of style (except when the season changes), and can actually be a fun job to look forward to.
Most school districts have lenient requirements for substitute teachers, often requiring just a bachelor’s degree with no teaching experience.
Craigslist or neighborhood job sites are great ways to search for these positions, but your best bet is to work with your personal network. Let people know that you would be willing to work as a nanny or frequent babysitter, and, with the proper recommendation, you could have a very gratifying retirement job.

7. Patient Advocate

The job of a patient advocate is to assist someone who is struggling to cope with the healthcare system. A patient advocate deals with paperwork and appointments, and communicates with healthcare providers to get information on diagnosis, treatment and followup procedures.
As such, typical hourly pay is as a call center representative.
Personal shoppers who go after groceries or staples are likely to make typical hourly pay of to . Those who work for a service are likely on a wage or salary determined by the service rather than by the client.
Being a patient advocate does not require any particular educational degree, but it is possible to become certified in this role.

An elderly man babysits two girls. He plays guitar on the couch while the two of them listen to him play.
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8. Child Care Provider

The job is likely to include more than just driving, however. You may be asked to supervise students on the bus, and you may be called upon to discipline rowdy students or those who are making the trip unsafe. A tolerance for children of all ages is probably an important requirement.
If you have an advance degree, you may also qualify to be an adjunct instructor at a community college or four-year university.
Kent McDill is a veteran journalist who has specialized in personal finance topics since 2013. He is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
Virtual assistants are independent contractors who offer business services virtually. Those services can include website management, website design, marketing assistance, social media postings, blog writing, email correspondence or any number of clerical duties that can be carried out with a computer and phone. This kind of work is often well-suited to flexible hours.
For between and an hour, you can earn money pet-sitting in a home or, if the pet happens to be a dog, you can walk the animal. Pet-sitting is a good job for retirees who want to work outdoors without a lot of physical requirements other than being able to walk while pulling or being pulled.
While there are occasional situations where someone needs a one-off writing assignment, freelance writer jobs often offer consistent, if sporadic, work. A retiree who can write could have a client for years. Check out this Penny Hoarder article on 18 places hiring freelance writers.

Looking for a fun part-time side gig? Here’s how you can earn money visiting theme parks as a Disney nanny.

9. Virtual Assistant

Any task that can be done virtually via computer is likely to be requested by a virtual assistant. Firms would rather pay a freelancer than an employee to do the work.
Pet sitter/walker is also a good line of work to get into because one job can lead to another. Pet owners tend to concentrate around each other, and they will give recommendations to other pet owners about a reliable person who can watch Fido or Fluffy while they are on vacation.
Ski resorts in the winter and water parks in the summer are two great examples of places that require seasonal employees. It is not necessary to be a ski instructor or a lifeguard, either. These places require assistance in areas outside of their main purpose: security, transportation, customer service. Even the National Park Service hires seasonal temps.
Businesses, organizations and sites that host tours come in many shapes and sizes, from historical sites to museums, from outdoor walking tours to behind-the-scene workplace tours. They can be an everyday part of a business or scheduled by appointment. What they all have in common? A tour leader.

10. Bookkeeper

The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal makes the remote-job hunt easy. Our journalists scour the web for the best gigs, vet the companies and aggregate the latest listings in one place.
Nannies are likely to make an hour on average. Babysitter earnings vary widely by affluence of the neighborhood. Check out The Penny Hoarder’s tips on how to get paid up to an hour babysitting.
While high-level programs require officials to get licensed or certified, lower-level and youth group programs require just a basic knowledge of the rules. Look around your community for sports leagues in need of umpires or referees.
A babysitter sits in a home with a child or children. A nanny is responsible for getting children to day care or other activities; they are a substitute parent in many cases.

11. Umpire and Referee

If you are going to house-sit the animal, you will likely get paid more for also keeping an eye on the property while the owner is away.
Substitute teachers have never been more valuable than today. Covid has increased the chances that a teacher might be out of the classroom either awaiting test results or recuperating. When that happens, their students need someone to teach — and that could be you.
Although freelance writers no longer provide articles — it’s called content now — freelance writing is a gig that can offer the freedom to accept the assignments you want. There are firms that will connect freelance writers to people or companies in need of blogs, resumes, cover letters, marketing content and more.
This is a good job for retirees who do not mind a bit of boredom.

A man walks a gaggle of dogs at his dog walking job.
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12. Pet Sitter and Dog Walker

If you are interested in online tutoring, there are many good paying gigs out there. Match your skills to the openings.
So let’s get to work, shall we?
To be successful, you need to be ready to deal with a room full of 20 or so children of varying ages. But it could pay off. School districts in Chicago, for example, pay as much as 0 a day for a full day of work.
This is a classic retirement job that gets you out of the house, allows you to have contact with neighbors, and lets you provide security and safety with another set of adult eyes on the children.

13. Freelance Writer

These jobs require knowledge about the subject and the ability to tell a good story — often while walking backwards.
Competitive sports programs need officials for their games. Baseball, basketball, soccer and football all have leagues at various ages that need officiating. Depending on where you live, the work can be constant. If you get certified for multiple sports, you can work all weekend long and often during the week.
Some stores hold hiring events in October to fill these positions, but they often continue searching for employees throughout the final three months of the year.
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14. Call Center Worker

Most schools are always looking for crossing guards, recess supervisors and other positions. A call to your local elementary, middle or high school could lead you to a good retirement job that would fit your schedule. Even better is searching online for jobs at your school district. This will give you a range of what’s out there.
Who even knows what “retired’’ means anymore?
This is a perfect retirement job if you have a sports background and the ability to withstand criticism.

A senior citizen bartender holds up a pint of beer.
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15. Freelance Bartender

Another idea for animal lovers is pet transporting. If you’ve got a reliable set of wheels and like to drive, getting pets from here to there from owners, maybe be the side gig for you.
Taking classes in CPR or other emergency response techniques, which offer certifications upon completion, can improve your chances of being hired.
Is it the shopping or the buying that you enjoy? If it’s the shopping, then you might consider becoming someone’s personal shopper.

16. Personal Shopper

As much as this is a remote job, it is definitely a people-person retirement job. You are likely to be talking to someone who is upset or unhappy, and you are the first line of communication for the company you are representing. You need to be capable of being friendly and helpful in the face of unpleasant conversation.
Tour guide is one of those jobs that, when you see someone doing it, you think, “Well, I could do that too!”
To be a personal grocery shopper, you probably need only have been in a grocery store from time to time. To be a high-end personal shopper, a knowledge of the fashion industry and current fashions is going to get you better clients.
Remember when you had a summer job as a teenager or a part-time job during your winter break from college? The same logic can work when you’re thinking about some extra retirement income.
The job title describes the job. You are given a shopping list and the means to make the purchase, and you chase after the items.
The responsibilities of a security guard depend on the needs of the company being guarded. There may be requirements that go beyond just being a presence, but the differences depend on the needs of the company.
As you browse these possible jobs for retirees, keep in mind one warning: If you are collecting Social Security, you can only earn a certain amount each month before your benefits are reduced.

Got what it takes to be a mystery shopper? We’ve rounded up four companies that are hiring retail sleuths. 

17. Security Guard

There are hundreds of tutoring companies in the U.S. who work with kids of all ages to enhance their school education or prepare for college entrance exams. If you sign up with one, they’ll match you with work and you won’t need to market yourself as a tutor.
You might have left the career you had in the 40-hour-a-week workforce. But now you don’t exactly want to be glued to your couch watching puppy videos. You want to be active, you want to work, and you want to make a little money to support your fun retirement plans.
Also included in seasonal work are holiday positions during the months of October-December. On-site customer service, truck unloading, shelving of new goods, and custodial services are among the positions for which big box stores are likely to need employees. For example in 2021, we tallied more than 1 million seasonal jobs at national retailers and delivery services.
The average salary for a part-time bookkeeper is around per hour.
This could be a dream job for someone who knows the topic well and likes to retell stories about history, natural science or architecture (among many other possibilities).

18. Seasonal Worker

The hourly pay for these companies ranges from about to . Requirements often are limited to a bachelor’s degree, although exam-prep work might require a recent ACT or SAT test score, or might require you to retake the exam for verbal or math instruction.
Tour guides make an average base salary of per hour. Plus, they are often offered tips by tour participants.
Certainly, many people already have personal shoppers and don’t know it. When they contact a grocery store and provide an itemized list of goods they want, someone does the “shopping,” and the items are then delivered.
If this appeals to you, don’t overlook a special area of knowledge you’ve developed during all those years in the workplace. Know a lot about the manufacturing industry? Maybe you’re just the person to lead tours at a cheese factory.
Writing skills rarely diminish, but the requirements for writing change over time. A knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) is going to open more doors. Many jobs that use job search websites like Indeed ask for candidates to take a writing test, but many of those are simple grammar or proofreading tests.

Pro Tip
There are plenty of ways to bring in some extra money to augment pension, social security, or other retirement funds. We’ve rounded up 18 ideas for good jobs for retirees that offer part-time opportunities, flexible hours, or both.

Just to be clear, we are talking about taking calls from customers, not making calls. A call center representative answers incoming calls from customers or potential customers and either answers questions or sends the caller to someone else who can answer.
Advocates might also be asked to work with insurance companies to understand coverage and costs. Many are asked to help a client obtain assistance with financial or legal issues. The range of duties can be as varied as the patient’s needs.

Dear Penny: Will My Husband’s Bad Health Choices Drain My Life’s Savings?

Dear Penny,

My spouse suffered from a stroke three years ago. He is unable to work and is receiving Social Security and is very noncompliant about his health. I am currently and have been the breadwinner for this family. 

My concern is that he is going to financially take everything I have saved and worked hard for with his consistent medical expenses. I fear he could end up in a nursing home. 

I have thought about divorce, but I know he would take half of my retirement. I am 62, and I hope to be able to retire at 65. How can I protect my retirement from the possible nursing home and medical expenses? 


Dear T.,

Watching your spouse jeopardize his health and risk your future in the process has got to be agonizing. Unfortunately, the threat of unmanageable medical bills is far too common since Medicare only covers the first 100 days of skilled nursing care.

Paying for a nursing home can quickly erase a lifetime’s worth of savings. The average cost of a semi-private room in a skilled nursing facility is over $7,700 per month, according to Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care survey. Eventually, Medicaid will kick in — but only after someone has depleted almost all of what’s called countable assets, which include things like retirement accounts and other investments, cash, bank accounts and homes that aren’t used as a primary residence.

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When one spouse needs Medicaid but the other doesn’t, the non-applicant spouse can typically keep no more than $137,400 of countable assets. That’s not much if you’re expecting a long retirement.

But you do have options for preserving the money you’ve worked hard for over the years. It’s essential that you consult with an elder care attorney. Medicaid planning is extraordinarily complex, and the laws vary significantly by state. You can use the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys database to search for an attorney near you.

You’re correct in that if you divorced, your husband would probably be entitled to part of your retirement. But most attorneys don’t recommend getting divorced solely to qualify one spouse for Medicaid for a host of reasons that are too complicated to delve into here.

One option you should discuss with an attorney is a Medicaid-compliant annuity. In a nutshell, Medicaid considers the income of the spouse who’s applying for coverage, but the other spouse’s income is off-limits. A Medicaid-compliant annuity takes part of your assets and converts it into a fixed income stream. The payments are based on your life expectancy, calculated according to Social Security’s life expectancy table.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you have $257,400 in countable assets, which would put you $120,000 above Medicaid’s threshold. You use that $120,000 to buy an annuity. If your life expectancy is 10 years, you’d immediately start to get payments of $1,000 a month, or $12,000 annually, for the next 10 years.

The insurance company makes its money by investing your principal. It’s a good tool for married couples when only one spouse needs care because, remember, the income of the other spouse isn’t used for Medicaid eligibility.

There are many rules an annuity has to follow to be considered Medicaid compliant. For example, it has to be a single premium immediate annuity, meaning you buy it in a lump sum and the payments start right away. If you’d opt to go this route, it’s important to look specifically for a Medicaid compliant annuity. Annuities advertised as “Medicaid-friendly” often don’t meet all the rules.

If you have debt, you could also use part of your assets to pay it off so you can keep your expenses minimal in retirement. Paying off a mortgage balance, a personal car loan or a credit card balance generally won’t violate Medicaid’s rules. If the two of you own your home, there’s no limit on your home equity as long as you continue to reside there.

You could have other options depending on your state. For instance, if you live in Florida or New York, you may be able to use a spousal refusal strategy, where you essentially sign a written statement refusing to contribute to the cost of your husband’s care.

These are just a few strategies that may be possible in the event that your husband needs long-term care. However, I can’t stress how important it is to consult with an experienced attorney about how to protect your assets. You may not need to take any action right away. But just knowing what options you have will set your mind at ease.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.


Retirement Checklist: 5 Things to Know Before Leaving the Workforce

Working more than 35 years can really pay off, especially if you’re making significantly more than you were in your early career because you get to replace some of those low-earning years with higher wages.
We’d love to say things get easier when you turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, but that’s not always the case.
Retirement is calling your name — but can your budget handle it? Check out these tips to avoid financial stress and worry during your golden years.
Another option is to extend your employer’s insurance benefits through COBRA for 18 months. But at an average cost of 0 to 0 per person per month, it’s a pricey option.
Let’s say you started collecting Social Security at 62 and receive ,200 a month.
Keep in mind that “taxable” doesn’t mean that’s what you pay in tax. Suppose you’re a single filer with ,000 of income: ,000 from Social Security benefits and ,000 from 401(k) withdrawals.

5 Essential Things to Put on Your Retirement Checklist


1. Know Your Social Security Full Retirement Age

But here are a few important guidelines about Medicare:
Once you reach full retirement age, Social Security will recalculate your monthly benefit amount and give you credit for the months they reduced your payment.
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You can start collecting Social Security retirement benefits as early as age 62. But if you opt in early, your monthly benefits will be reduced significantly.

  • If you were born between 1943 and 1954, your full retirement age is 66.
  • If you were born between 1955 and 1960, your full retirement age increases gradually up to age 67.
  • Anyone born since 1961 has a full retirement age of 67.

Here’s an example.
You get a larger monthly benefit by working past your full retirement age.

Pro Tip
You aren’t eligible for full Social Security benefits until you reach what’s known as your full retirement age.

2. Learn About Ways to Maximize Your Social Security Benefit

Contrary to popular belief, this federal health insurance program isn’t free and it doesn’t cover all your health care costs.
There’s a lot to know about Medicare — much more than we can cover here.
But many of those workers didn’t really quit — they retired.
If you’re married filing jointly:
Your benefit amount increases for every month you do not accept Social Security benefits, although this added benefit maxes out at age 70.
Report All Your Earnings
Marriage and Divorce Make a Difference
Like we mentioned above, you can increase your Social Security benefit by working past your full retirement age.
Work at Least 35 Years
That’s ,440 over the limit, so your yearly Social Security benefits would be reduced by ,520, or 0 a month.
Your Social Security benefits are technically income. So do you owe taxes on Social Security?
Or, if your current or ex-spouse dies, you could qualify for 100% of their benefit if you meet certain requirements.
But — and this is really important — that money isn’t gone forever.

3. Know the Social Security Earning Limits if You Plan on Working in Retirement

The Social Security Administration now bases your full retirement age on the year you were born:
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Ready to stop worrying about money?

  • Once you hit full retirement age, working doesn’t impact your Social Security benefits — no matter how much you earn.
  • If you’re not yet at full retirement age but receive Social Security benefits, you can make up to $19,560 a year without penalty. (For context, that’s $1,630 a month, or $376 a week).
  • After that, your benefits are reduced by $1 for every $2 you make over $19,560.

Make sure to report earnings you make from tips, freelancing and self-employment throughout your career. Failing to report these earnings could reduce the amount of Social Security you get later on.
Other health insurance options for early retirees include:
You can only qualify for Medicare before age 65 if you’ve been on Social Security Disability for at least 24 months. People diagnosed with end-stage renal disease or ALS also qualify.
Full retirement age used to be 65, but that hasn’t been the case for a while.
How much you receive from Social Security also depends on your marital status.
But if you make more than ,560 a year in 2022, your Social Security benefits will go down.
Waiting until you reach age 70 can result in a monthly benefit that’s 77% higher than if you claimed at 62.

4. Get Familiar With Your Health Care Options

If Social Security is your only income source, you most likely won’t pay any taxes on it. The average benefit amounts to just ,516 per year and you can make up to 25,000 before taxes kick in.
Generous federal stimulus checks, strong stock market gains and rising home values prompted some better-off Americans to retire early.

  1. If you retire before age 65, you’ll likely lose coverage at work and need to find your own health care.
  2. At 65, you’re eligible for Medicare.

Social Security uses your 35 highest-earning years to calculate your benefit, so it’s wise to stay in the workforce at least that long.
You might be able to get coverage through a spouse’s plan, assuming you’re married to someone with workplace health coverage. (If they’re on Medicare, they can’t add you to their plan).
Yes, you can work and collect Social Security at the same time.
That simply means that your income will be ,000 in the eyes of the IRS: ,000 from the 401(k), plus 50% of the ,000 from your Social Security benefits. Uncle Sam can’t touch the remaining 50%.

  • Try to find a part-time job that offers health care coverage. Just be mindful of those Social Security earning limits.
  • Find a plan on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Losing health coverage at work qualifies you for a 60-day special enrollment period on the Marketplace — the federal government’s health care shopping and enrollment service for uninsured Americans.
  • See if you qualify for Medicaid in your state. Especially if you know your income in retirement will be small.
  • Get private health insurance on your own. This can be complex and costly, especially if you’re in poor health or on a limited income.

A couple years later, you go back to work and earn ,000 in a calendar year.
If you’re a single filer:
Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

  • If you’re already receiving Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you’ll be automatically enrolled in Medicare. You don’t need to do anything else.
  • If you have coverage through a Marketplace plan, COBRA through a past employer or TRICARE for retired military members, you’re required to enroll in Medicare when you turn 65.
  • You may not need to sign up for Medicare right away if you’re still working and enrolled in your employer’s group health plan or if your spouse is still working and you’re covered under their plan. But be sure to check with your employer.
  • Otherwise, your Medicare eligibility begins around your 65th birthday, and you have a seven-month window to sign up.

For example, if you’re divorced and not remarried, you might be eligible to claim benefits based on your ex’s work record (provided that your marriage lasted at least 10 years). Doing so won’t impact their benefits.

5. Understand How Your Social Security Benefits Are Taxed

Nearly every strategy that might increase your Social Security check boils down to this: Work longer, earn more money and wait as long as possible.
Health care will likely be one of your biggest expenses in retirement.
If you have additional income, whether it’s from a job or investments, there’s a good chance at least part of your Social Security will be taxed.
In some cases, yes.

  • 0% of your benefit is taxable if your income is below $25,000.
  • Up to 50% of your benefit is taxable if your income is between $25,000 and $34,000.
  • Up to 85% of your benefit is taxable if your income is above $34,000.

Meanwhile, some Americans with modest incomes were forced into retirement due to job loss, COVID-19 health concerns and caregiving responsibilities.

  • 0% of your benefit is taxable if your combined incomes are below $32,000.
  • 50% of your benefit is taxable if your combined incomes are between $32,000 and $44,000.
  • 85% of your benefit is taxable if your combined incomes are above $44,000.

Millions of Americans quit their jobs this year as the Great Resignation took hold of the U.S. labor market.
The United State’s retiree population has grown by about 3 million since the pandemic, according to The Washington Post. That’s about double pre-pandemic retirement trends.
That’s why it’s essential to understand your health care options.
There are other ways to boost your monthly benefit, but unfortunately, there aren’t any quick fixes. <!–


In other words, making ,000 during a year that falls between 62 and your full retirement age reduces your ,200 monthly check to 0.

How to Know When You Can Retire

See if you can relate to this … You have contributed to a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored account at work, maybe you’re paying extra on the mortgage or have already paid it off, you keep cash on hand for those unexpected expenses or upcoming big-ticket purchases and you often wish there was a way to pay less in taxes.

You have worked for 30 or 40 years and are at or approaching Social Security eligibility and are now looking at when to take Social Security to maximize your benefits.

Sound familiar?  Now, here’s what often comes next … You look at the account statements and begin to wonder whether the investments you have are the right ones to own for where you are in life. You begin weighing your options for making withdrawals from your retirement accounts. You aren’t sure exactly how this is done, and you’re nervous about the risk of a stock market pullback and the possibility of running out of money. 
And then it happens, you begin searching the internet for answers.  (That may even be how you ended up here!)  After a lot of searching and reading you realize that there are just too many opinions to choose from, and you resort to simply eliminating options that you’re not as familiar with or have heard negative things about.  Then you take what’s left and try to put together a coherent strategy while continuing a search to find information that supports what you have contrived.

This is an all-too-common situation.  Maybe this is exactly where you are or perhaps it describes something similar, but either way, you wouldn’t be reading this far into the article without some truth to what I am describing.

Regardless of the details, what you do next is critical to your long-term success. The decisions you make will determine the trajectory of your financial future, and it’s imperative to have a good plan to follow.

What to Do and How to Know When You Can Retire

There is a lot to this if done correctly, and at some point you’re probably going to want some professional help, but there are a few things you can do to get moving in the right direction.

Calculate Your Income Need

Before you jump in and begin picking from the assorted list of investments that you found on the internet or that a broker recommended, you should understand that this is the very last step in the process.  You would be well advised to set all of that aside for now and begin with your income needs. You cannot sidestep this, because you have to know this figure before you can do anything else.

To do this right, sort through and total up all your bank payments, then your insurance payments, then your tax payments, then your monthly living expenses, and don’t forget the irregular expenses throughout the year, like gifts and travel.  You want to know how much money you spend over the course of a year. 

Another point to make here, realize that this spending amount will be for when you are retired – not while you’re working.  Things are going to look different for you in retirement, so be sure to think about how you will be spending your time in retirement.  You’ll have a lot of time to fill!

Calculate Your Income Gap

Once you have this figure, subtract from it your Social Security or pension benefits. Any fixed income you have coming is already solved for, so we have to figure out what your “income gap” is between what you need and what income you already have coming in.

Identify the Return You Will Need from Your Investments

So, the amount you have determined as your income gap needs to be annualized and divided by the amount of retirement assets you have designated for retirement. This calculation will tell you what yield you need from your investments. This figure shouldn’t be more than between 4%-5% at the most. If it is higher, then you may not be ready for retirement just yet.

For example, say you have an income gap of $70,000 per year and retirement savings of $2 million. Divide $70,000 by $2 million, and you find that you will need an investment return of 3.5% to support your living expenses. That’s well within an acceptable range.

Remember that you stretch your resources too far right out of the gate, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. This is no time to be overly optimistic with your calculations and will want to lean on the side of caution.

Hedge For Inflation

Unfortunately, there is inflation in your future that you will need to account for on top of market volatility. The income gap amount you came up with a moment ago will need to be hedged due to the future effects of inflation.  The amount of money you need today will be greater in the future simply due to the price of goods and services increasing over time. 

By using a historical figure for inflation of 3.5%, we can estimate that in 15 years your income need will increase by 68%!  So, you have to consider this headwind in your calculations and realize that you need two pools of retirement assets, one to generate the income you need now and another designated for income in the future.  One portfolio would be allocated using income producing assets while the other allocated for long term growth.

Find Income-Producing Assets

When you’re looking to fill your income gap, the obvious solution is to generate more income to fill it. How this is done can vary from person to person, but the primary outcome you’re looking for is income regardless of how you go about it.

If you’re wanting to remain active, you can consider taking on a part-time job, start or buy a business, acquire some rental properties or work another full-time job that you enjoy.

If you prefer not to work and want passive income, then you’re going to have to rely on income-oriented investments.  This would be through specific types of income annuities or select alternative investments that are designed specifically for income.

When doing this, be sure you are working with a qualified professional who is properly licensed and who can education you on your options. You can read this article and learn what to look for before working with an adviser. 

Get A Checklist

It is always a good idea to work off of a checklist, and regardless of where you are in this process, there are likely a few tweaks that can help increase your probability for a successful retirement. I encourage you to formulate a plan that articulates where you are, where you’re going and what needs to be done to start receiving the income you need. 

You can download the Successful Retirement Checklist™ for free here and use it as a guide as you prepare for your retirement.  In addition, taking a retirement readiness quiz can be a good idea, too. A quiz is a useful tool to measure your level of understanding about a topic or your readiness for progressing toward something. Here is a retirement readiness quiz you can take for free that can help you figure out how ready you are for retirement.

Securities offered through Kalos Capital, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC/MSRB and investment advisory services offered through Kalos Management, Inc., an SEC registered Investment Advisor, both located at11525 Park Wood Circle, Alpharetta, GA 30005. Kalos Capital, Inc. and Kalos Management, Inc. do not provide tax or legal advice. Skrobonja Financial Group, LLC and Skrobonja Insurance Services, LLC are not an affiliate or subsidiary of Kalos Capital, Inc. or Kalos Management, Inc.

Founder & President, Skrobonja Financial Group LLC

Brian Skrobonja is an author, blogger, podcaster and speaker. He is the founder of St. Louis Mo.-based wealth management firm Skrobonja Financial Group LLC. His goal is to help his audience discover the root of their beliefs about money and challenge them to think differently. Brian is the author of three books, and his Common Sense podcast was named one of the Top 10 by Forbes. In 2017, 2019 and 2020 Brian was awarded Best Wealth Manager and the Future 50 in 2018 from St. Louis Small Business.


Early Retirement: How To Protect Your Hidden Retirement Asset

Early retirement has become a hot topic for a lot of workers. Some look at the high balances in their retirement accounts and think, “Maybe I have enough money to retire now.” Others plan to join the FIRE movement (short for “financial independence, retire early”) by leaving their industry before age 50. And yet others are being swept up by the COVID-caused Great Resignation and think it’s time to call it quits.

However, as you’re waltzing out the door of your workplace for the last time, take care not to slam it. Things change, and maybe one day you’ll want to return to the workforce. Maybe you’ll need to return to the workforce. Either way, before retiring it makes sense to take steps to protect your most important, and sometimes hidden, asset: your human capital.

The ability to generate wealth through employment is our human capital. If you are retiring early, you may have significant human capital left; you just have to decide whether you choose to deploy it by going back to work, redirect it by using it for volunteer work, or let it fade away.

There are a number of ways to protect your future income-earning ability without having to actually return to work. Here are some key strategies:

Make an Effort to Stay Current

If you enjoyed the field you worked in, you’ll benefit by keeping up to date even after you leave.

  • Stay current on the issues in your field. Keep your contacts, and don’t let those subscriptions to trade magazines expire just yet.
  • Maintain your centers of influence network. Don’t ignore your LinkedIn account, and be sure to continue attending association functions.
  • Avoid fading into obscurity. Retirement shouldn’t go from “Who’s Who” to “Who’s He?” Keep your name out there.

If you have simply burned out and can afford to retire, fine. But sometime in the future your batteries may recharge, and your retirement might turn out to be more of a sabbatical than a permanent exit. Hedge your bets by staying up to date.   

Maintain Your Licenses

After a time away from your career you may realize you like to work. Don’t let a piece of paper keep you from getting back in the game. There may be expense in maintaining a license, and continuing education requirements can be a nuisance, but keeping your licensing current — at least for a while — is good insurance.

Avoid Non-Compete Agreements

Many an accountant has aged out of their firm, only to realize they can’t get back into the field unless they move away or wait a few years. Non-compete agreements typically restrict an individual’s ability to work within a geographic area or for a period of time. This can particularly happen to employees leaving positions in the tech sector, professions such as accounting, and any job where employers are protective of their trade secrets. However, non-compete agreements are under attack — indeed they are illegal in some states — so you may be able to negotiate better terms for your agreement before you leave.

Your firm’s exit agreement isn’t just paperwork. It may determine your future.

Be Tech Savvy

Many newly minted retirees are dismayed when the reality sets in that there’s no longer a tech-support department to call when having a computer issue. Since you will have spare time as a retiree, it behooves you to stay current on tech issues. Whether you use the Geek Squad or become a DIY techie, you’ll want to avoid being an IT dinosaur. 

You’ll find that you’ll need to stay computer literate so that you can take on the occasional self-employment gig. In fact, working for yourself often requires computer skills you may not have needed when you were an employee. You might even consider looking for a tech-support person to have on-call for the occasional computer hiccup.

Stay Healthy

It’s more than just a platitude to emphasize the importance of good health in retirement. For some retirees, they see that taking care of themselves — being healthy — is their new job. They replace their work routine with activities such as going to the gym, being disciplined about their diet, and building social interaction into their schedules.

Besides making for a happier retirement, staying healthy is the best insurance policy for maintaining your human capital.

Protect Your Options

Sometimes early retirements don’t stick. Either finances or boredom demand that you return to the working world. So don’t just protect your 401(k) and Social Security — protect your human capital. Retirement can last a long time, and so can your earning ability.  

Co-Director, Retirement Income Center, The American College of Financial Services

Steve Parrish, JD, RICP®, CLU®, ChFC®, RHU®, AEP®, is an Adjunct Professor of Advanced Planning and Co-Director of the Retirement Income Center at The American College of Financial Services. His career includes years spent as a financial adviser, attorney and financial service company executive. He focuses on law, estate planning, taxes and financial strategies that can help enable a successful retirement. 


Dear Penny: Can I Collect My Ex-Husband’s Social Security if He’s Only 54?

Dear Penny,

I’m in the process of divorce. It’s been two years since I’ve filed. My husband makes more money than I do. I’m disabled and can’t work. I hardly have an income coming in right now! 

I’m going to be 62 in four months. He is 54. Would I be able to get his Social Security if I retire at 62?

-Legally Separated

Dear Separated,

Bad news first: If you’re collecting Social Security based on a former spouse’s earnings, your ex needs to be eligible for benefits. That means if you apply after your divorce is finalized, your soon-to-be-ex would either need to be age 62 or on disability. If you applied for benefits on his record while you’re still married, he’d not only have to be eligible for benefits. He’d have to actually be taking them.

Now for the good news: Since you’re over age 60 and unable to work, qualifying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits may be easier than you think. You may get more money each month than you would if you took retirement benefits at 62.

A lot of older workers are tempted to start Social Security retirement checks early when a health condition precludes them from holding a job. That’s understandable, because getting approved for disability can be a long and cumbersome process. But starting retirement benefits early instead of applying for disability is a mistake in many cases.

Social Security weighs a host of factors when you apply for disability, including the type of work you did previously and what job skills you learned. If your disability prevents you from doing a job that’s similar to your past work, Social Security considers your ability to adjust to other types of work.

Social Security wouldn’t deem you disabled solely based on how old you are. But by the time you’re 55, your age is considered a significant factor that affects your ability to adjust to new types of work. The rules are even more favorable for people ages 60 and older. You’re about twice as likely to collect SSDI if you’re 60 or older than you are at age 50, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The big advantage of taking SSDI over early Social Security is that you won’t permanently reduce your benefits. Disability checks based on the amount you’ve paid into Social Security, as if you’d already reached full retirement age. Once you reach full retirement age — which is 67 if you were born in 1960 or later — you’ll automatically convert to retirement benefits. Your payment probably won’t change. After 24 months of SSDI, you’d also automatically qualify for Medicare Parts A and B.

However, if you took retirement benefits at age 62, your payments will be reduced by about 30%. When you take benefits based on a spouse’s or ex-spouse’s record, the most you can receive is 50% of their full retirement benefit. Even when one spouse earns more, the other spouse will often get more by claiming benefits based on their own work history.

To boost your odds of success, consult with a Social Security disability attorney. Typically, they work on contingency, which means they don’t get paid unless you win your claim. If that occurs, their fees are usually capped at the lesser of $6,000, or 25% of your back pay.

If SSDI doesn’t seem feasible, it’s essential to negotiate for alimony as you finalize your divorce. Doing so could allow you to hold out for a bigger retirement benefit.

Claiming Social Security is more or less a permanent decision. If you’re unable to work, it’s vital that you try to get disability first before you accept lower payments for the rest of your life.

Robin Hartill is a certified financial planner and a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder. Send your tricky money questions to [email protected].

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How Retirees Can Earn Extra Cash by Turning Their Home into an Airbnb

While staying at an Airbnb in the Hudson Valley last year, Kathy Corby, a retired physician, realized she would love to own a home there and share it as an Airbnb. She soon bought an 1890s Cape Cod with four bedrooms and two bathrooms in Saugerties, N.Y. Corby named it Lilac House after the huge, surrounding lilac bushes. She furnished the home with leftover furniture after downsizing into her Philadelphia condo and bought the rest on Black Friday. In early 2021, she hosted her first Airbnb guests and quickly earned the coveted status of Superhost. Lilac House is not only paying its own way, from mortgage to utilities, but also generating income. In her first nine months, Corby, 72, earned about $1,500 per month after expenses but before taxes. She spends about a week there every month. “I have my cake and can eat it, too,” she says.

Airbnb is an online home-sharing reservation service that connects hosts and guests. The site offers advice and tools to create and manage a listing, whether a house or a single room. According to an annual survey of Airbnb hosts, about 25% are retirees. They use their earnings to pay for living expenses, home improvements and extended travel, like the host who shipped a Volkswagen bus to Europe and used it to tour the continent for five months. But make no mistake: As a host, you are running a business with all the risks and rewards that go with it. “Expect that this will be more work than you anticipate. It’s NOT a get-rich-quick scheme! There is a lot of emotional, physical and financial labor that goes into hosting,” says host Laura2592 in an online post.

Creating a listing is free, but Airbnb deducts a 3% fee from the proceeds of every booking. Airbnb charges guests as soon as you confirm their reservation, and you generally receive payment 24 hours after check-in, usually by direct deposit or PayPal. The interactive tool What’s My Place Worth at estimates your earning potential. Actual earnings will depend mainly on the demand for accommodations in your area, your nightly rate and availability, positive reviews and any municipal restrictions.

After each stay, guests can rate hosts with up to five stars and post reviews, or vice versa. Airbnb says the key to keeping guests happy is warm hospitality and an accurate listing that tells travelers what to expect. The company asks that you respond to inquiries and requests within 24 hours, accept them whenever you’re available, avoid canceling on guests and maintain a high overall rating. The Superhost status goes to those who rate at least a 4.8 from 5.0 overall for the past 365 days of reviews, with minimum cancellations and rapid response times to guest questions or requests, among other requirements. Superhosts can charge higher nightly rates and earn more as a result.

During the pandemic, Corby and other nonurban hosts fared better than urban hosts, as cooped-up city dwellers looked for space where they could work and play. As travel rebounds, guests still want pet-friendly listings with wireless internet and remote workspaces.

The Legalities of Running an Airbnb

Before you begin shopping for luxury bedding, though, make sure you can create a short-term rental legally. Many cities have introduced tougher restrictions for short-term rental properties to protect their community’s quality of life and housing market. Once you accept Airbnb’s terms of service and activate a listing, you agree to comply with its policies and follow your local laws and regulations. Don’t overlook the covenants, conditions and restrictions of your homeowner’s association. If you violate those, the HOA could fine you or place a lien on your property, says Stephen Fishman, a lawyer and author for legal publisher Nolo Press.

Local governments typically require you to register your Airbnb, obtain a permit and a business license, pay fees ranging from $100 to several hundred dollars, and renew those annually. You may be required to pass an inspection and notify your neighbors of the rental. If you have unruly guests, you could incur citations, fines and the enduring wrath of your neighbors.

Make Your Airbnb Comfy

Carla Reissman, 65, of Arlington, Va., began hosting an Airbnb in her home after her husband, Ted Kennedy, 65, retired unexpectedly early. With two kids in college, the couple needed to supplement her income. They outfitted a spare bedroom on their first floor with furniture they bought on Craigslist (bed, beside table, lamp, reading chair, dresser and mirror) and reserved a nearby bathroom for guests in residence. With their master suite on the second floor, the couple preserved their privacy and that of guests. The kitchen was offlimits to guests, except to store their provisions in the fridge. Reissman provided guests with towels, bath soap, a Wi-Fi password and a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. “It was safe, clean, comfortable and not ugly,” says Reissman, who has since stopped hosting to travel with her husband.

Airbnb shows hosts how to create a guest-friendly space, and new hosts can ask questions of Superhosts on Corby, however, felt that she learned more from two books: Airbnb for Dummies (Wiley, $19.99) and Optimize Your Bnb (OptimizeMy LLC, $14.99). Her many amenities include five ways to make coffee, a burr grinder and a supply of high-end beans. It’s smart to test-drive your space by staying overnight in it yourself.

Lack of cleanliness is a top reason for a negative review. Airbnb requires a five-step cleaning and sanitizing process, which was developed in response to the pandemic and the standards of the pickiest guest, for whom one stray hair may be one too many. Corby once drove five hours in a snowstorm to clean her house between guests when her maid service couldn’t make it.

Establish Rules for Your Airbnb

Decide how you’ll check in guests. Reissman receives guests in person or hides a key when she can’t. With a lockbox or electronic lock, you can have contactless check-in and change the combination or code between guests for security. Corby uses an Apple smart lock with a keypad at the front door.

Add house rules to your listing to avoid misunderstandings that could lead to poor reviews. Rules can address times for checking in and out; any restrictions for smoking, parties and pets; and health and safety reminders, such as masking and social distancing requirements. In the U.S., Airbnb performs background checks on hosts and guests, and you can also require that guests provide a photo of their government ID for verification prior to their stay.

For the inside skinny on anything Airbnb, visit Airbnb’s Community Forum (, Airhosts Forum ( and the Reddit Airbnb Subreddit (

How to Price Your Airbnb

You can charge whatever nightly rate you want but be realistic. Many guests choose Airbnb because it’s cheaper than staying in a hotel. Reissman researched Airbnb prices in her area before charging $60 per night. Her rate attracts guests with modest budgets, including retirees, international students, as well as businesspeople living on a per diem. She figures she earned about $20,000 over 80 bookings in two years.

Airbnb suggests starting with a lower-than-average nightly rate until you glean a positive review or two. Airbnb’s Smart Pricing Tool helps you match your price to demand, and you can set custom prices, such as a lower rate during the week and a higher one on weekends or during special events. Corby uses a subscription tool from AirDNA ($20 to $100 a month) that automatically optimizes pricing for her market. It recommends daily rates for up to a year in advance; rates rise with demand or fall to maximize bookings as the date of a special event nears. Corby’s nightly rate has ranged from about $320 to $750.

You can add fees for cleaning and additional guests beyond a number you set. Airbnb also charges most guests a service fee of up to 14.2% of the cost of their stay (excluding Airbnb fees and taxes).

Pay Taxes on Your Airbnb Income

In many cities, Airbnb will collect and remit some of the local occupancy taxes for you.

If you rent out part or all of your home for more than 14 days during the year, you must report your rental income and expenses on Schedule E of your 1040, with income taxes owed on any profit. Airbnb will report to the IRS how much rental income it collected and paid you annually. You can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, maintenance and other ownership costs for the portion of the property rented out. Because that portion of your state and local property taxes won’t count toward the $10,000 cap on state and local taxes, you may be better off itemizing deductions.

As long as you don’t provide substantial services to your guests — such as breakfast, fresh linens and room cleaning during their stay — you won’t be considered self-employed and won’t need to pay the 15.3% selfemployment tax. For more information, see Every Airbnb Host’s Tax Guide, by Stephen Fishman (Nolo Press, $19.99). Consult your tax adviser, too.

Check Your Homeowners Insurance Coverage

Airbnb provides up to $1 million of Host Protection Insurance to cover liability claims for injury to a guest or property damage to their belongings. Its Host Guarantee ostensibly provides protection for every booking at no additional cost, of up to $1 million in property damage. But don’t rely on those protections alone.

Ask your home insurer about what property damage and liability coverage it offers for short-term rentals by paying guests, which could be excluded as a business activity. “Make clear how often you plan to rent out your home, whether you’ll be at home while renting, and how many people you’ll be hosting,” says Fishman. Your insurer may cover home-sharing up to certain limits as a standard endorsement or you may need to buy a supplement. Corby purchased home-sharing coverage from Proper Insurance for her home, its contents as well as the business liability and income it generates.

Overall, hosting has been a positive experience for Corby and Reissman, who have met people of different nationalities and even made new friends as a result. “If you think about hosting only as a monetary transaction, you might be disappointed,” Reissman says.

Corby recalls a couple of guests who disobeyed all the house rules, smoking inside and leaving debris on the floor, the child who drew tic-tack-toe and his initials into a new leather couch and the guest who texted constantly while Corby was vacationing four time zones away. Reissman had guests who left hair dye in the bathroom sink and sex toys under the bed. You may have to be available at the most inconvenient times and sacrifice your use of the property to guests. Corby hoped to spend leaf season in the Hudson Valley, but by mid-August, guests had booked every opening. Christmas week at Lilac House, however, has been reserved just for her family.


The Penny Hoarder’s 2021 Survey on Retirement Savings During Covid

The COVID-19 crisis has affected the way many Americans are able to save for retirement, with surprising disparities among age groups, gender and even geographic areas.

Nearly 17% of Americans say they’re saving less money for retirement due to the pandemic, according to a new survey by The Penny Hoarder, which also found that 16% of respondents are saving more money in response to COVID-19. The survey polled 1,001 people in October 2021.

Geographic Differences

From a regional standpoint, people in the Northeast were much more likely to save extra money for retirement in response to the pandemic, at 44%, according to The Penny Hoarder’s data.

Men in the Northeast were over three times more likely to say they’re saving more for retirement than women in the Northeast.

People in the South were most likely to report no change to their retirement savings, at roughly 32%, while 31% of Southerners say they’re now saving less due to COVID.

Disruptions in the tourism industry may be causing a slower economic recovery in the South than other parts of the U.S. For example, in Orlando, Florida — where roughly one in five employees worked directly in hospitality and leisure in 2019 — unemployment rates remained much higher than the national average in 2020.

Other economic factors — including a state’s median wages, its unemployment rate and the overall cost of living — impact how much someone can save for retirement in one state versus another.

Gender Differences

Men were considerably more likely to beef up their retirement savings in response to COVID-19 than women: 59% of men are saving more compared to just 41% of women.

Pre-pandemic numbers already pointed to a sizable gender gap in retirement savings. A 2019 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report found that women enter retirement with $70,000 less than men.

But the pandemic introduced new challenges for working-age women, especially those with children.

The cost of child care is a significant financial burden for many American families.

A September 2021 survey by The Penny Hoarder of 2,000 parents found that nearly 1 in 5 parents say they had to quit a job due to high child care costs — finding it made more sense to leave the workforce entirely than to pay for daycare or babysitters.

Women were also more likely to work in sectors hardest hit by COVID-19 shutdowns, such as hospitality and retail. Women experienced higher unemployment rates throughout the pandemic than men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since most Americans use employer-sponsored vehicles — such as pensions and 401(k)s — to save for retirement, less workforce participation makes it particularly challenging for women to boost their savings.

Age Differences

At 35%, millennials between 25 and 34 were the age group most likely to save more for retirement in response to COVID.

Meanwhile, those with the least amount of time until retirement saw the biggest slide. Nearly a quarter of GenXers between 45 and 54 said they are saving less thanks to COVID. Another 27% of GenXers said the pandemic had no impact on their retirement savings.

This same age group of 45-to-54-year-olds was the least likely to amp up savings due to COVID, at just 19%.

Saving for Retirement Is Critical — Even During a Pandemic

Retirement is expensive — and Americans were struggling to save enough money for it long before the pandemic.

The economic turmoil of the pandemic underscored some critical lessons about investing for the long term, including keeping calm during turbulent markets and using market slumps as an opportunity to invest when prices are low.

Americans weren’t all in the same pandemic recession — and The Penny Hoarder’s new data underscores how uneven the recovery has been too.

No matter your age or stage of life, it’s critical to put money away for retirement. If you’re in your 20s, starting to save now will pay huge dividends later. If you’re in your 50s, it’s not too late. Here’s The Penny Hoarder’s comprehensive guide on how to save for retirement at any age.

Methodology: The Penny Hoarder used Google Surveys to conduct a national survey about the impact of COVID on retirement savings. 1,001 people completed the survey between October 5-7, 2021. Survey responses are weighted so that each response is representative of the U.S. population.

Rachel Christian is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance and a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.