It's natural to assume that your living expenses will go down in retirement. After all, you'll no longer have to bear the expense of commuting to work, and there's a good chance that by that point, you'll have paid off your mortgage. But surprisingly enough, close to 50% of seniors end up spending more money, not less, during their first two years of retirement than they did while working full time, and for 33% of retirees, this trend continues for a total of six years.

It therefore never hurts to have an additional means of generating income during retirement in case your savings and Social Security benefits don't wind up cutting it. And that's where a job can come in handy.

Smiling older man in apron outside a flower shop.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Surprisingly, though, only 15% of retirees rely on a side job as a source of income, according to GOBankingRates. And if you're not one of them, you could be missing out on a key opportunity to make your expenses more manageable later in life.

The stigma of working during retirement

Many seniors don't want to work in any capacity once their full-time careers end. And that logic makes sense. After all, isn't the point of retirement to break free from the daily grind and enjoy life without being held back by job-related constraints?

Unfortunately, that idyllic picture doesn't always mesh with reality. The fact of the matter is that more than 25 million seniors live at or below the poverty line, and much of that boils down to inadequate savings and an overreliance on Social Security. If working in some capacity is what it takes to prevent you from joining their ranks, then it certainly pays to go that route.

That said, the work you do in retirement doesn't have to be painful or boring. You might associate part-time work with stocking shelves at the supermarket or manning the cash register at a retail shop, but in reality, there are loads of more engaging, fulfilling options you can pursue. You might, for example, start your own business or turn a hobby you enjoy into a money-making opportunity (think gardening, quilting, baking, or photography, just to name a few). You might even look into consulting in your former field, especially if you have a lot of contacts who can hook you up with work opportunities.

Best of all, the work you do in retirement doesn't have to eat up a huge chunk of your time. Imagine you're willing to put in 10 hours a week and earn $20 an hour. That's an extra $10,000 you'll take in over the course of a year, which can no doubt buy you some breathing room. Furthermore, remember that working part-time in retirement can help you avoid spending money by keeping you busy, thereby helping your finances as well.

If you're having a hard time making ends meet in retirement, it pays to explore your options for working on a part-time basis. And if you're not yet retired, start thinking about the sort of work you might enjoy once your primary career comes to an end. If you lay the groundwork for a meaningful gig in retirement ahead of time, you'll avoid an income gap that could hurt your finances and mar your golden years with stress.

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