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Earning Income in Retirement

I’m retired, and I’m still earning income in retirement. This wasn’t planned; after giving up my urgent care work in the clinic, I switched to doing telemedicine here and there.

Earning retirement income has many benefits, which I will review below. It’s not right for everyone, but I suspect it will satisfy many of our needs as medical professionals.

On one extreme end, if you continue to earn an income in retirement then you’ll need very little saved for retirement – maybe nothing at all. On the other, you could live like a king by having a lot of disposable income even when retired.

1. Less Retirement Savings

The longer you let your investments grow, the larger your net worth will become. If you invest wisely, more market investment time will mean more growth from fund appreciation and dividend yields.

With only $300k invested in a broad stock index fund, a 40-year-old doctor could retire and let that money grow another 30 years to nearly $1.5M. They would be earning income in retirement to spend on their overhead without adding any money to their investments.

2. More Spending Flexibility

If you already have a healthy net worth and have a passive income from your retirement investments to cover your lifestyle, then you may not need to earn an income during retirement.

However, if you suddenly realize the need for a larger expense or want to inflate your lifestyle for a couple of years then earning income in retirement could solve that problem.

3. Less Reliant on the Market

Closely connected to #2 above, if the market starts fluctuating wildly or drops drastically, earning income in retirement will allow you to ride out this wave.

Instead, you can wait until the markets are performing better and pull more off the top of your investments. Your earned income in retirement smooths out any economic uncertainties.

The concept of diversification is powerful in all aspects of life, whether you are still working and dealing with a major work situation or retired and dealing with market changes.

4. Productivity

Some medical professionals have a hard time feeling productive unless they are working. Even a few hours a week of work in retirement can help you feel productive.

For many, productivity is a cure for depression and boredom. In practice, you will eventually figure out how to fill the extra free time. You’ll hang out with friends more, read more, spend more time preparing food, exercise, and work on side projects.

5. No Tax Consequences

Regardless of how much you work, tax concerns from earning income in retirement can be handled by either setting that money aside in an individual 401k or donating the income.

You can also reduce taxes by opening a donor-advised fund.

6. Opportunity

Just because you are retired doesn’t mean you don’t care about personal growth or career opportunities. Retiring for me meant practicing less medicine – a lot less medicine.

You might find yourself consulting for a medical group or opening your own part-time practice. By being active in the workplace, you get to enjoy earning income in retirement and you get to continue growing your network.

7. Social Interaction

I do a little telemedicine, which provides me with some social interaction, though nothing in-person. I’ve made some friends of fellow telemedicine colleagues whom I’ve kept in touch with.

I could be earning income in retirement by working at a local free clinic. This would allow me to interact socially with patients and colleagues and maybe make new friends.

Ideal Retirement Jobs and Opportunities

Flexibility is probably the most important factor for medical professionals in an ideal retirement job.

It will quickly feel like a chore if you have to deal with deadlines and schedules and someone hounding you.

On the other hand, it might be nice to have a single shift scheduled once a week. You have your whole week to yourself, and it can offer you just enough structure to prevent boredom or intellectual fatigue.

1. House-sitting or babysitting might be easy ways to earn a little extra income.

2. Teaching, as I’ve done at the community college, is a fun way to earn a decent income.

3. More people earn an income by being tour guides on websites such as Airbnb

4. Teaching exercise classes, yoga, or dance are also popular retirement gigs for medical professionals.

5. If you live near the beach and are into surfing, then you could put on surf classes for other professionals.

6. Reviewing charts isn’t very exciting but it’s somewhat intellectually stimulating and earns you a good income in retirement.

7. You might even enjoy being a landlord. Perhaps in a less traditional sense, by renting out a spare room or running a bed & breakfast.

8. You can be an investor, whatever that means to you. Whether you are a stock trader, a whiskey trader, or flip old motorcycles.

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