workingAfter Sally lost her second dog to cancer, her house was quiet, a little too quiet. However, she was reluctant to adopt a new dog because she and her beau were enjoying their newfound freedom.

Instead, Sally started an in-home pet-sitting business, and now the 70-something retiree has canine companionship when she wants it, while also enjoying the flexibility to get away whenever the mood strikes her. On top of that, Sally has extra spending money when the couple decides to take off on a new adventure.

Sally’s certainly not alone. According to a study published last year by the JP Morgan Chase Institute, many older folks—about 400,000 of them—are taking advantage of what’s become known as the gig economy working jobs to earn extra cash. Including Uber, Airbnb, TaskRabbit and independent ventures like Sally’s, these gigs give seniors the opportunity to pick up some extra bucks, without the pressures of a honest-to-goodness job.

Almost one-quarter of Uber drivers are over the age of 50, with 3 percent of them actually coming out of retirement to cart people to and fro. And Bloomberg reports that out of all of Airbnb’s owners, the 60-plus age group is growing the fastest and getting the best reviews!

The beauty is that to land and excel at these gigs, seniors typically don’t have to learn anything new. They’re drawing on the skills they’ve already honed during their long careers, their connections and their many interests to become assets in the workforce again. Take the airline stewardess who was featured in a CBS News story, for example. She became an Uber driver, transporting people to the airport, while also giving them tips about the airlines and travel in general. Or in that same story, there were empty nesters, who rented a room in their home to a young college grad. No training, just life experience, necessary!

For all of these folks picking up gigs to supplement their income, it’s not just about padding their pockets. It’s also about meeting new people, staying engaged, and having a good time in the process.

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