Many seniors end up learning the hard way that retirement can be a very expensive period of life. Not only does it come with the usual string of expenses every human being tends to incur, like housing, transportation, and food, but many retirees find that their healthcare costs are incredibly burdensome due to issues arising with age and the limited coverage they get under Medicare.

In fact, sometimes, even seniors with a nice amount of money socked away in retirement savings end up struggling financially. And people in that boat are often forced to turn to part-time work to compensate.

It's certainly not a bad thing to go out and get a job during retirement. But you may find it a lot easier to line up a gig before your career comes to a close.

A person playing guitar on stage.

Image source: Getty Images.

Set yourself up for future income

It's become pretty common for workers today to pick up a side hustle to supplement their income. And it's not just millennials and younger workers who are going this route. More than 10% of people with a side gig are 55 years of age or older, according to Side Hustle Nation. And in the coming years, that percentage has the potential to increase.

Of course, juggling a side hustle with full-time work is easier said than done. And so for many people, first joining the gig economy during retirement might seem like a better choice.

But the thing to realize about gig work is that to make money from it, you need to a) be good at it, and b) have demand for your services. Those are things that don't necessarily happen overnight.

So if you're eager to hold down a part-time gig for income during retirement, your best bet may be to figure out what it is you want to do ahead of time, get more efficient at it, and build up a client base. That way, by the time you're actually retired, you won't have to scramble.

Say, as an example, that you're looking to moonlight as a musician. You might struggle to get hired your first few gigs, but as you build a reputation and get endorsements from happy clients, your work opportunities might increase.

Now, let's say you're hoping to retire from your full-time job at age 65, at which point you'll be limited to a small nest egg and whatever Social Security pays you. Your ideal situation may be to start playing gigs right away in retirement. But if you don't put in the effort ahead of time, that may not be an option.

That's why it's a good idea to join the gig economy while you're still working. You might struggle to carve out the time, but you'll be thankful for having done so once you find yourself with many more hours of the day to fill.

Furthermore, if you end up needing money in retirement and you're not able to fall back on a gig you enjoy, you may be forced to take a part-time job you specifically do not enjoy. And that's not the sort of situation you want to risk landing in.