One of the remarkable things I’ve learned about early retirement is how many opportunities there are to make money after calling it quits from full-time work. Making money after early retirement has been way easier than I had expected.
Before I quit my job at the age of 35, I assumed that my earning life was over. Sure, I might inadvertently earn some small change here and there, but for the most part, it’s done. “Ship sailed” and all that.
But, it hasn’t quite worked out that way, and it was purely accidental. Once your mind is free from the distraction of full-time work, we’re able to take in many more options than we had back when we worked. These options very often produce cash flow.
In fact, there’s a slew of ways to earn money after calling it quits. A ton. And, I had no idea they existed until after hanging up my hat.
Arguably, I am busier in retirement than I was working a full-time job. Of course, I spend a lot of time maintaining this blog, and I’ve monetized it to the point of covering about a third of our expenses. I also manage the operational side of Rockstar Finance, one of the most popular and well-known sites in the personal finance blogosphere.
Way more on this below!
The four ways we’re making money after early retirement
We’re earning money purely by accident, but I’m also not complaining. While we never planned on earning money, we’ll always take more income.
Here are the four ways we’re making money after early retirement:
Yup, I took the plunge and monetized this blog. Between banner advertisements and a little affiliate marketing here and there, we generally earn between $1,100 and $1,600 every month from this little blog. Media exposure has helped tremendously to push this blog out into the mainstream, which is a battlefield of rhetoric and emotions that can be tough to navigate, but still very much worth the effort. Every email I get from someone who’s working their way through their career toward ER makes it all worth it.
Why did I choose to monetize the blog if we’re already financially independent? Because earning money from the blog has become a fun challenge. Like I wrote about in my early retirement FAQ, I’ve been doing this whole “blog” thing since the late 90s, WAY before the advent of WordPress or anything that looks like today’s blogs. To put it plainly, I’m sorta over passion blogging.
At this point in my life, I’ve switched gears a bit and focused more on what’s possible. Until this blog, I hadn’t ever monetized a blog. Not a single one. Every site has been 100% ad-free and supported by my blood, sweat, and tears…as they say. But, I just don’t feel the same level of satisfaction with that any longer. Probably because I’ve been blogging for so long. Been there, done that, and have the t-shirt.
Now, I’m pushing the envelope a bit. I’m setting money goals for myself – both with the blog as well as the YouTube channel. While we aren’t in this just for the money, it’s become a goal that keeps me focused on producing high-quality content and actively striving for bigger and better things.
The YouTube channel
Most of you probably know that my wife and I run a YouTube channel called A Streamin’ Life. This is our primary creative outlet and it gives us a reason to explore and do some things that we may not have otherwise considered without this type of outlet. And, of course, it’s also monetized (like almost all YouTube channels). Monthly, we bring in between $300 early in the year and, when advertising budgets are much larger during the holiday season, near $1,000 later in the year. Usually, it’s somewhere in the middle during the summer months.
We have close to 8,500 subscribers, but we’ve learned that money on YouTube is a result of video views, not necessarily just your subscriber numbers. It’s true that a large number of subscribers help, but if they aren’t watching your videos, you also don’t generate income. You need a constant stream of high-quality videos to keep that cash flow rollin’ into your bank account every month.
BTW: You don’t need top of the line equipment to build and run an epically-successful YouTube channel.
Photography does not need to be expensive. We use high-quality but relatively modest photo gear to build a growing channel and earn money through videography gigs (discussed below). And if you’re wondering, we have a Sony A-6300 and Canon G7x Mark ii (<– affiliate links, both!) as our two primary cameras. I use a Sony 18-105mm f/4 lens, along with a 1970s-era Nikon 55mm f/2.8 Macro and Rokinon 8.5mm fisheye on my A6300 – the former being one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used.
Here is our introduction video that everybody (who isn’t already subscribed) sees on our YouTube profile page:
By pure coincidence, one of my former CEOs at a company I worked for now runs another company that produces mixed multimedia. He follows our YouTube channel and reached out to see if we’d be interested in filming some “b-roll” as we travel. Naturally, we said “Yes!” because we always have our cameras on us anyway.
Of course, this gig is compensated, which helps to fund our adventures and campground stays. And, it forces me out of my comfort zone a bit with YouTube into a slightly different world. I always focus on shooting high-quality video, but this gig is re-focusing my attention on extreme quality. Smooth camera movements. Impeccable color balance. Things that I may not worry too much about when uploading to YouTube.
It’s fun. It keeps us exploring different parts of the country and, of course, the income is always nice.
The pay from this gig varies heavily. It can range from just a few hundred bucks to several thousand dollars.
This goes to show how small the world really is and the wisdom of not burning your bridges when leaving a company. I always took extra special care to leave every workplace on a positive note because…well, we just never know what’s going to happen in the future. Like this plainly shows, your path may cross again with those whom you’ve previously worked for/with.
Lastly, I do IT consulting work. This includes my work with Rockstar Finance as well as other smaller “one-off” projects. I do consulting work to keep my skin in the game a bit and keep my skills sharp in the industry that I worked in for so many years. Collectively, this income ranges from around $800 to $1,500 a month.
If I ever feel like my post-retirement work is becoming too much, this consulting work will probably be among the first to be “adjusted” downward.
The focus is on having fun
It is important to note that although we’re earning an income, the primary focus is on having fun and enjoying ourselves during the process. If work doesn’t sound interesting or it becomes boring, we stop doing that work to re-focus our attention elsewhere.
And, that’s the whole point of this financial independence business, isn’t it? The freedom to pick and choose how you spend your time because money is no longer the primary motivator is liberating beyond belief. We try new things all the time. Sometimes, it sucks and we never do it again. Other times, it’s the best thing ever.
P.S.: The wife and I got to spend some quality time with Miss Mazuma, Carl from 1500 Days and Michael from Uncommon Dream recently in Longmont, CO. We had a super good time. Thanks for all the laughs and memories. 🙂
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.