Money

New ‘Gig Economy’ Embraces Workers Young and Old

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iStock_000063830007_MediumIt goes by different names: sharing economy, on-demand economy, 1099 economy, but more commonly, the ‘gig economy.’

[Related: ‘Unretirement’ Becomes New Buzz Word for Post-career Baby Boomers]

Gig work is not just for millennials who can’t find a satisfying job or Gen-Xers who’ve been downsized. It’s for baby boomers, too. More and more people are joining the growing ranks of the gig economy as self-employed workers.

With job security a thing of the past, many millennials and Gen-Xers turn to side gigs for financial security. If you belong to either demographic group, income volatility can be a real issue. If you’re not smart about it, your financial health can be impacted, says Rob Levy, managing director at the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

Working for yourself, you won’t have: a 401(k) retirement plan, employer-sponsored health insurance, automated tax withholding. You’re on your own when it comes to managing your financial health. Levy recommends several tools that help provide financial clarity: United Capital’s FlexScore; Schwab MoneyWise Financial Fitness Quiz; SunTrust OnUp Movement quiz.

As for taxes, don’t trust yourself to keep track of expenses. Deducting expenses helps lower your tax bill. Use accounting software that puts expenses on autopilot. Consider: QuickBooks, Xero, Wave.

If you’re a retired baby boomer living a secure retirement, gig work is hardly vital. You have a bountiful retirement portfolio. For you, the world of work is history.

But if you’re defined by your occupation, you’ll have a hard time breaking the inertia of a 40-year career. Re-entering the workforce is a way to apply the skills acquired over a lifetime and earn extra income in the process.

Everett Bellamy, a retired Georgetown Law dean, continues to teach at the school. He also advises a company in the burgeoning business of ensuring the integrity of test scores in public school systems. The gig comes in response to a spate of scandals involving teaches and administrators inflating test scores of children from struggling schools. Roscoe Nance, a retired sportswriter, picks up cash as a freelancer for the Black America and Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference websites.

Career is not always a predictor of gig choice. James Mathis, a retired operations analyst, expanded his landscaping business. Cash earned ‘gigging’ can stretch income, maybe pay for your daughter’s wedding, pay unexpected dental bills, or cover the cost of a leisurely Caribbean cruise.

In that last regard, Jo Israelson hasn’t enjoyed much leisure. Israelson fits the definition of a ‘solopreneur,’ a freelancer running a one-person business. Jo ‘The Clutter Buster’ helps clients – often downsizing seniors – prune sentimental possessions.

Israelson launched the business to fund a second career as a sculptor after working in teacher training for the hearing impaired.

Along the way, she’s worked at landscaping, house sitting, opening summer cottages of rich people. “You clean the cottage, stock the fridge, remove any creatures residing there all winter,” she says. One summer she worked “16 different gigs” – hardly the stuff of a restful retirement.