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3 Unexpected Sources of Retirement Income

By Kailey Hagen - Jun 14, 2021 at 8:05AM

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It's not all about retirement accounts and Social Security.

If looking at your small retirement account balance fills you with anxiety, you'll be glad to know that probably isn't all you'll have to rely upon in retirement. Most people will also get some money from Social Security -- no, it's not going to disappear before you retire -- and you may get some money from some of these lesser-known sources as well.

1. Health savings account (HSA)

Health savings accounts (HSAs) were designed to help people with high-deductible health insurance plans pay for their medical expenses, but they actually make pretty good retirement accounts too. 

Smiling mature couple looking at document.

Image source: Getty Images.

Contributions to HSAs are tax-deferred, just like contributions to most 401(k)s and traditional IRAs. Plus, you'll never pay taxes on withdrawals you make for medical expenses at any age. You can also make nonmedical withdrawals, though you'll pay taxes on these, plus a 20% penalty if you're under 65. 

Only those with a health insurance plan with a deductible of $1,400 or more for individuals or $2,800 or more for families are eligible to contribute to an HSA in 2021. Individuals may contribute up to $3,600 to an HSA this year, and families may contribute up to $7,200. These contribution limits are distinct from IRA and 401(k) limits, so an HSA is a great place to stash some extra retirement savings if you can afford to do so. 

2. Your home

There are a few different ways you can squeeze money out of your home. If you're not too attached to it, you could consider downsizing. Moving to a smaller home or to a more affordable area could reduce or even eliminate your monthly mortgage payment in retirement. This would enable you to spend more of your savings on things you enjoy.

You could also consider renting out your home if you plan to travel in retirement. This could provide you with some extra income every month. However, you'd have to remember to set aside some of that money for taxes.

Another option is a reverse mortgage. This is only available to seniors 62 and older who have a lot of equity in their home. It enables you to borrow against your home's equity in exchange for a lump sum, monthly payments, or a line of credit. You don't have to make any payments while you're still living in the home, but the full balance immediately becomes due when you die or move away. It's not the right choice for everybody, but if you plan to remain in your home and you aren't interested in passing it on to your heirs, it could be a good source of retirement income.

3. Your hobbies

Though most people think of retirement as an end to their working days, many seniors continue working in some capacity after they say goodbye to their careers. You could transition to part-time at your regular job if you enjoy what you do, or you could start a side hustle that's more in line with your interests.

Renting out your home, car, or other belongings is one simple option that doesn't require a lot of effort. But there's virtually no limit to what you could do. You could drive for a ridesharing service, sell used or handmade items, walk dogs, build websites, or do just about anything else you can think of. 

Think about what interests you the most and then decide how you'll go about finding clients. If you work for a ridesharing service, for example, you may not have to try too hard to find customers because the app will do that for you. But if you're operating a business on your own, you may need to market to your clients via social media or ads to draw customers in. Think about how much you'll have to spend in order to operate your business to determine if it's worth it for you.

Don't forget about the taxes you'll owe on your side hustle income too. If you've had the side hustle in previous years, you should have some idea of what to expect in terms of taxes. If not, use this worksheet to figure out what you might owe. Set this money aside in a separate savings account so you don't accidentally spend it.

Think outside the box

The three things mentioned above aren't the only sources of retirement income available to you. If you're worried about not having enough personal savings, brainstorm how you can use the skills and resources you already have to generate more income in retirement. You might be surprised by what you can come up with.

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