Home working successfully after retirement

The picture shows someone home working sat on a soafa using a tablet with their feet up.
The dream life. Home working has many advantages.

I  retired just over a year ago but found I missed the stimulation and I will admit the money from working.   I wondered if there were any interesting home working opportunities that would offer a reasonable rate of pay to older people for a few hours work a week.  After a bit of googling  I soon discovered that quite a few mystery shopping companies had jobs for older people. Now rather to my surprise I find myself home working.  This is all very new to me.  During my working life I  worked in offices, nursing homes, hospitals and even a laboratory but now for the first time I am my own boss and work from home and  I find I much prefer it to watching day time television or knitting.

       10 tips for successful home working after retirement

  • set a target for how much you want to earn each week.  When it has been reached you have done enough.
  • Learn to say, No.  If you are working for several different people you will need to schedule a reasonable quantity of work and schedule some down time.
  • Make sure you get up early and get dressed.  It will make you feel more like work.
  • Keep all your work tools in one place preferably away from day time television.
  • Keep basic accounts recording income, outgoings and time.  (I imagine I am invoicing myself) so you can see what is the most profitable type of work.
  • Pay yourself a wage and keep a float for expenses.
  • Check income tax allowances.  If you work from home you can claim a portion of your heating and other household bills against income tax. (U.K)
  • If you work as an employee tell the tax office and you may be able to offset part of your personal tax allowance against tax. (U.K.)
  • Tell your friends and family that you will be working at certain times.
  • Make sure you schedule in some exercise.

I find it suprising the amount of work that is available for pensioners.   My recent jobs have ranged from sending a tweet to enquire about disabled access at a railway station to asking how to apply for a new driving licence at seventy.  I also do tasks that are not age specific like visiting gardens and local pubs.   Google and you tube have been my friends.  When I am stuck I can generally find a helpful video.  I also use my tablet’s planner and notepad to organise my schedule.

When I was in full time work I used to enjoy helping to mentor students.  I also enjoyed helping my own children with their homework when they were at school so when I found that there were opportunities to help research students I investigated further.  My favourite website for this is prolific academic , My referral link which puts research students in touch with participants.  I have also recently participated in research studies at our local university.

If you work from home do you have any tips to share? Or are you finding the transition to retirement easier than I did.  I would love to hear what you are thinking.  Don’t be shy.

If you are thinking of home working and want to find out more….

For more on mystery shopping and a couple of companies to try see my post https://www.theplatinumline.blog/mystery-shopping/

For more on helping with academic research  see my post https://www.theplatinumline.blog/helping-with-academic-research/

A very useful site for British readers to find out about homeworking opportunities is  The money shed

Quincy, a large ginger cat
Quincy – a cat who used to visit. You can’t take time out to cuddle a cat when working in an office

Make an extra £20.00 a month by filling in surveys

How to make an extra £20 a month

From 2017 the British government allows you to make a £1000 a year without having to declare it for tax purposes.  If you have a couple of hours a week to spare it is fairly easy to earn some extra money online.

A lot of companies like to conduct market research by getting people to fill in surveys.  This can be any thing from watching adverts to see if you have understood the message, to asking questions to find out how you shop.

Like many people I began my online money making by filling in these  surveys.         I would be the first to admit that spending 20 minutes filling in a survey for 50 pence is working well below the minimum wage however if you are time rich and money poor it is worth considering these sites as a way to earn a few pence.  Many sites also offer vouchers which can be saved for Christmas or birthday presents.   Quite a few sites also let you donate money to charity.

I look for sites that let me cash out at a low payment threshold and are easy to use.   Another important consideration is do they use the demographic information you provide to choose suitable surveys to match your profile.   I  prefer using British sites as I think they are less likely to disqualify you from surveys. Sometimes filling in surveys can lead to other opportunities. This year I was invited to a focus group to discus a well known science magazine for which I was paid £30.00 after filling in a survey and  I was also asked to keep a spending diary after another survey on a different site for which I received £15.00.   It is worth thinking about your answers and paying attention to trick questions.

My favourite site which does have a £50.00 minimum cash out is populus live.  It pays about £1.00 for five minutes and it took me about ten months to earn £50.00.

A  couple of other reliable sites.


Branded Surveys.

This site is American but seems to have plenty of surveys.  You start as a bronze member and can then pass through the ranks to become a silver or gold member which gives you a chance to get higher paying surveys and more points in the daily poll.    Be sure to do the daily poll to get at least 5 extra points a day.  You also receive a bonus if you are disqualified from a survey.

Branded surveys.

QMEE

 

QMee

we both get 50p if you use my link.   If you install the QMee app you will also earn a few pence for  searches.  This site lets you cash out any amount to paypal so it is worth giving it a try.

Yougov

This site is a slow but reliable earner.  Minimum cashout is £50.00.  Surveys are by email invitation only and once you are invited to participate in a survey you can usually complete it.  They are generally short and work well and are often on political or current topics.

YouGov

I would like to know other people’s favourites in the comments.  I know Pinecone is highly recommended but I have been unable to get on the panel.

How to sell books online

This is a stock photo of some library shelves
Most people have some books that are unloved

Online bookselling

A few years ago I used to supplement my income by online bookselling on Amazon.  Although I no longer do this I thought I would offer a few tips in case anyone else is interested.  Some  are also probably relevant to general online trading.  I am now a poacher turned game keeper and help at a local charity shop and I sometimes spot items they can sell on Ebay.

Most people start by selling their old books, often college textbooks but then need to look for replacement stock. The first thing I realised was that online selling is more about the ability to source quality stock cheaply than  brilliant salesmanship.

Amazon

When you first look at Amazon you will find a lot of books for sale for 1p .  You will wonder how sellers manage to do this. The answer is that these are mega sellers who probably buy charity shop rejects for about 5p each and make most of their profit from the postage charge. Professional sellers also pay considerably less Amazon fees than you or I.

The key to success is to find your niche. If you are interested in fishing or local history that is the place to start. Have a look at sites like Amazon or Ebay to find what is selling and for how much. If you try looking up the price of your own books it will give you some idea.  All modern books have an ISBN number above the barcode.  If you search for this number you will can compare your edition with what is on offer. Try to do a practice listing to see exactly what you will receive and then decide if it is worth it. Also look at the best seller ranking to see if it is likely to sell. Personally I would avoid hardback fiction or thick mass market paperbacks.  Old encyclopedias , readers digests or family bibles are also unlikely to sell.

The next task is to try to source the books in good condition cheaply. If you have time go into your local charity shops and talk to the staff, ask them to look out for books on your interest and if they find any pay a fair price and thank them. Large book shops also have end of season sales especially if a new edition of a text book has just been published. Unless you intend to trade on a large scale and have a lot of storage space I would avoid buying in bulk. It takes a surprisingly long time to list and pack books. Only buy books for resale in very good condition.

You then need to cut costs for posting and packing. I was able to buy padded envelopes in bulk from our local stationers. Look on ebay for discounted stamps. It is a good idea to invest in some cheap postal scales. It is important to work out a selling price that gives you a reasonable profit. Some dealers have software that automatically makes their books  1p cheaper than the next lowest but ignore this. If your books have been well chosen they will sell. Give the books a good description, mention any faults like highlighting in textbooks and try to package them well and post promptly. If you have good feedback you will get orders.

Other bookselling sites

The Amazon sellers forum is very helpful. If you have several books on the same subject or by the same author it might be worth selling them as a bulk lot on ebay.  More specialist books sometimes sell better on Abe books which is also owned by Amazon.  Ebay also allows you to let the buyer collect if they are particularly heavy. Ladybird books have devoted collectors and prices can be checked on the weeweb or they can be saved and sold as a collectors lot.  Another series to look out for is Haynes car manuals.  I once sold a manual for a Reliant Robin for a good price.

If you have books that are worth a few pounds but you just want them out of the house a site like  Music Magpie is worth considering. Minimum sale is £5.00 but they pay postage and provide the packing labels.

If you want to try bookselling  but don’t have  any spare storage space then the Amazon affiliate programme may be for you.  Once you sign up you can put a link to any Amazon product on your social media or blog and receive a small commission on sales generated.

Publishers are also looking for people to review books in exchange for a hardback or digital copy.   You can apply to receive books to review at Goodreads  or Netgallery (E.books).

 

Earning money while helping with academic research

Earning money while helping with academic research

 

 

Since retirement  one of the most interesting ways I have found to supplement my pension is by helping with academic research.

I joined    Prolific academic  which is   a website that  links academics from around the world with participants willing to help complete online research studies.  Many studies are on psychological topics but a variety of other subjects are covered.  Surveys can take from a few minutes to an hour or sometimes more.  You are told in advance how long a survey will take and what the fee will be.  Payment can be made via circle or paypal or donated to charity.  Unlike most survey sites you receive a fair rate of pay and you rarely get disqualified from a study  half way through.  You don’t need a degree to join and participants from most countries are accepted on to their panel.

click here to find out more  Prolific academic     I get a small bonus for referring either a researcher who wants to run a study or a participant.

Volunteering for local university research studies

Many universities also recruit volunteers directly for studies.  I have recently been participating in a study on dopamine and memory run by the University of Bristol.  This was a very interesting experience  which involved two overnight visits to the Bristol sleep clinic and an E.C.G., E.E.G. and an MRI scan.  Luckily I was recruited as a healthy control.  I enjoyed doing the memory tests and meeting the students.  I also received very generous expenses and dinner and breakfast on the two nights I spent at the clinic.

Helping students is something I miss since giving up work and I feel it is a worthwhile use of my time.  If you would like to give it a try, it is worth checking to see if your local university is looking for volunteers for studies.  .

I was also invited to a tasting session for high protein biscuits.  We spent

an enjoyable half an hour discussing such things as crispiness and crunch.  We soon discovered that if you are developing a product to be used as a supplementary food for the elderly you need to assume that at least some of them will have false teeth.

My next study will be on cicadian  rhythm and memory.  I will need to wear a glucose monitor for a couple of days.

Another Bristol company which recruits volunteers for focus groups and telephone interviews is People for research   

I have not taken part in any project with them myself but I think they are reliable.  Most focus groups take place in Bristol, London or another big city but they recruit people nationwide for phone interviews.

How to earn money as a mystery shopper

Mystery shopping

This is a black and white image of a shadowy figure with a shopping bag.

I first started mystery shopping last  summer. I retired in April at the age of 65 and decided that I would try to replace some of my lost income by working from home. Thanks to web sites like the money shed I have been dipping my toe in to the world of secret shopping.

My first surprise was that a lot of shopping could be done at home. So far jobs have included ordering groceries on line, phoning up to enquire about insurance, receiving letters and even a tweet to enquire about disabled access at a railway station. In fact so far mystery shopping  has involved very little actual shopping. I am suprised at the variety of jobs offered and it is interesting to compare my findings about a brand with newspaper reports.My favourite jobs have involved visiting local stately homes.

What you need

Mystery shopping actually needs very little equipment. I bought myself a new mobile phone (a Samsung galaxy) and a new computer (which I needed anyway). The phone acts as my camera, voice recorder and stop watch and the computer is needed for writing the some times lengthy reports. I am lucky enough to have a bus pass so get free local travel. I also already had a printer needed for printing out a paper copy of the questionnaire.  You also need internet access.  Reports generally have to be written within 24 hours of a job.

You need to have a reasonable memory and a good standard of written and spoken English.  You need to be able to remember what was said and what the team members looked like.  I take a notebook with me so I can jot down details particularly if I have to ask for something like options for a train fare.  I also try to find a nearby coffee shop or library so I can write up my notes while my memory is fresh.

Payment

Payment is usually about minimum wage for the jobs themselves but this does not include travel time nor time downloading instructions nor typing up the reports. Some jobs include the cost of purchases. A job last year included £5.00 to spend in any department of a local department store and £3.00 for a drink in the cafe.

Payment method varies between the companies you work for. A company like Red wigwam treats you as a casual employee and deducts tax. Other companies pay you a set fee and leave you to sort out your own tax.  Payment is usually by BACS.

I am slowly getting to grips with terms like gondola end and shelf barker. Another useful distinction to understand is the difference between a shop audit where you have to check if a product or poster is present in a store and if goods are correctly priced and displayed and a mystery shop where you are expected to buy something and report on the service received.
A recent job wanted an audio recording detailing my experience which I could do on my phone.

Many mystery shopping companies seem to use Sassie software and once you are signed up to the Sassie system you are given log in details for Presto maps which shows you jobs in any part of England.  You have to apply to the individual job agency for a particular job but you can see what is available locally.

Beware of scams you should never have to pay to join an agency and I have never been offered £100.00 to spend on a product of my choice.

Here are links to a couple of companies that are reliable and good for beginners.  They are also happy to employ retired people.

Market Force

Redwigwam