Money Making Hobbies


Recycles dryer sheets
Nov 18, 2006
Daylate made a comment about maintaining Money Making Hobbies as a hedge. I'm leaning the same way as I leave the full-time j*b soon. Two questions for discussion:

1. How do you define RE?
For me it is all about controlling my schedule. My goal is to do independent consulting at <50% time for at least a couple of years until the pension kicks in. The major tax advantages, such as the business covering health care expenses, seems to make it worthwhile. It is also doing w*rk I enjoy, with clients I select, and helps to keep skills current.

2. What other MMH have people pursued?
I guess that is very dependent on how hobbies are defined, but I'd be interested in the experiences of others. I expect a lot of real estate hobbies. Others?
1. I personally define RE as not working for money, but anyone is free to define it as they wish as far as I'm concerned. I am doing a little consulting with my former company wrapping up a project (30 hours in the 9 months since I retired), but I consider myself to be RE. But not by much - I retired at 58.

2. I have sold some of my beer (one 6 pack), authored an article for a magazine, made a little $ from woodworking & home improvement projects, and have done a couple of small photo sessions for $. I don't intend to make money from these hobbies in the future and have turned down all opportunities to make $ from hobbies recently.

I am considering working for a baseball team during spring training. Would be for about a month and get me into the games for free.

I also have a few lingering real estate interests (I don't consider them hobbies). I don't expect to invest in any more investment real estate in the future.
I tend to agree that retirement does not mean you are not able to do work if you want to. If you can make a few $ and enjoy doing it, then have at it. The beauty of early retirement and being FI is that you can choose what you want to do, and when to do it.

I have a small home-based side business I do that is related to my old cars hobby. I don't make any real money, few thousand $/year; the big benefit is I do home office and the tax savings while I am working now. When I fully retire, I will still keep up the business, in fact I will use it to let Uncle Sam help pay for some travel activities that can be business expense.

I guess I would be considered a MMH supporter!
I think we are all free to define our own ER's however we want. To me, it's about having plenty of free time, pursuing what I want to do that interests me (without needing to make money), and not committing to anything I don't want to do.

Right after I FIRE'd, I said "hey, I've got the time, why not start a blog?". 1.5 years on and it's been a fun way to publish my thoughts on different topics (mostly FI and ER, some travel, some general life design type topics). I haven't figured out just how much I'm earning per hour, but I know I grossed about what I would have earned full time as a minimum wage earner. I write a few articles per month and have mostly automated my social media strategies. It's like getting paid to do something I've been doing for free for years (posting my werds on the internets).

Since our retirement expenses run about $32k/yr, that means we are able to fund almost half our spending if the blog revenues remain steady.

Most importantly, it's fun. I've met many other very young early retirees (or those that aspire to be the same), and even reconnected with old friends and classmates that are on the path to FIRE (like the attorneys earning $300k in DC and about to downshift their careers in their 30's). Occasionally I'll meet up with people in real life who found me through my blog. Chatting with 20-somethings that have their heads screwed on correctly has renewed my faith in humanity (or at least a small sliver of it).

I also had a few other online financial sites ask me to do freelance writing for them. I named a price high enough that I thought they would say no (as I'm not really looking for work). Both sites agreed to my price. I'm still writing for one site (the other site stopped contacting me, which is okay by me).

The one site I still write for asked me to write two articles in the next few weeks. One was "how to travel the world in retirement" (which interests me) and the other a rather mundane review of some financial software. I declined the software review article and accepted the globe trotting in retirement article. My excuse was "I'm actually headed out of the country for a while (without internet) so I can't do more than 1 article". :)

So I spend a few hours per month on freelance writing and probably 5 to 20 hours on my blog. I can't complain at all. Things have worked out pretty well. It's a great side hustle and provides a wonderful creative outlet (and cash money!).
I am more interested in FI than full time retirement. I have to do something for brain work anyway, so personally I'd rather do something that makes money than play Canasta or bridge at the senior center. I am signing up this year for the hikes and other social activities at the center and some other clubs, but if I have to think really hard at something I'd just as soon get paid for it.

I like not having to work to pay the bills or having a job with a commute or employees. But being my own boss and setting my own hours is okay and the extra money never hurts. An online friend showed me how to make money at my hobby, so this is actually what I used to do for fun even before I knew I could get paid (IT related) for it.

Some of the people I know who do what they love are a jewelry designer, university professor + researcher, programmers and personal trainer. The jewelry designer has her wares in high end shops in Europe and the U.S.
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1. I personally define RE as not working for money, but anyone is free to define it as they wish as far as I'm concerned.

+1, that is how I define it too, but like Ronstar I feel like others can define it however they want for themselves.

Daylate made a comment about maintaining Money Making Hobbies as a hedge. [...]2. What other MMH have people pursued?
My beloved is doing on call AV system design and operation for musicians down in the French Quarter a couple of nights a week, for peanuts. He isn't really doing it for the money as much as for the fun of buying, playing with, and operating lots of expensive equipment that he doesn't have to pay for himself. And free music, and hanging out with legendary musicians who appreciate his skills? What's not to like. He only works when he feels like it, but his skills are considerable and he is in a lot of demand because the musicians say they have never sounded better (and this pleases him too). He still regards himself as being retired which I find interesting. But then, he is only earning about 1%-2% of the income he used to make from his "real job".

Personally, I am completely done, and I mean DONE.... :D But who am I to define someone else's retirement?
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We like rugs and at one point ended up with about 50 Navajo weavings we bought wholesale. Sold most of them on Ebay and it turned into a job. Still kick myself for a few of the rugs we sold. The rugs we kept cost us nothing but the time we spent. Did the same thing with some Mata Ortiz pottery. It is an ok way to indulge a hobby, but takes much of the joy away, for me anyway.
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Don't worry about it, doesn't matter how anyone else defines retirement, it's your life.

If you enjoy what you're doing, it's not work whether full/part time, paid/unpaid, scheduled/not. There are a lucky few people who "work" 70 hours/week and only wish they could do more.

If there's something else you'd rather be doing, and can't, then it might be "work."
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It is also doing w*rk I enjoy, with clients I select, and helps to keep skills current.

This to me is the key. The work is optional, you aren't doing it because you need the money, but to do something you like doing anyway. The money is just icing on the cake and/or gives you a sense of being appreciated.

Like Ronstar I have an interest in photography and if I picked up a few coins here and there that would be okay but like him I'd shy away from too many commitments and turning a hobby into a job.
I don't do anything for $$ - kind of wish I had something interesting to get some dollars. But I'm taking Italian at the local community college - that gives me a challenge 2 days a week. Plus I have minor age children - so some would call me a SAHM rather than ER. There's some truth to that - I drive them to basketball/baseball practices, make sure they're up and out to school in the morning, make sure they do their homework... but I was doing all that when I was working... the only difference is we dropped after school programs and can nag them about their homework before dinner, rather than after dinner.

We also have a detached rental "granny flat" on our property. That brings in income... and sometimes has work. In fact DH is working on a pump/electrical issue as I type this. But we have great tenants so the day to day is very little work.... just checks coming in every month. Even with a tenant changeover this year (and all the touch ups/minor repairs that go with a tenant change over) we've spent less than 80 hours in 2014... after 2 years of almost no time at all. The pump/electrical issue will be done in the next few hours and we don't anticipate any other maintenance in the near term. Our tenants tell us regularly they want to stay a few years to save up for their own home... we encourage this.
Once I am FIRE I will likely spend more time playing poker and buying/selling comic books. They are both potentially sources of income, but not ones that I would like to be relying on, as they are erratic and potentially money-losing as well.
DF became a fishing guide. There was always a disagreement between he and DM if he made any money at it.

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How to define "retirement" is something that a lot of people have different views on. Some are fairly insistent that if you earn $1 in retirement then you aren't retired.

I personally think each person has to define it himself. I personally don't see the fact that someone earns $1 (or more) as necessarily meaning the person isn't retired. For example, Fuego talks about the money he earns from his blog. So, some would say he isn't retired. On the other hand, I also have a blog. It isn't financial in nature so I've earned exactly $0 from my blog. I'm not against earning anything from it and would certainly take money for if I had someone who would pay me for anything I do on the blog. But, as it stands, I don't.

I probably spend a similar amount of time on mine as Fuego (I am just financially in the hole with mine). It is hard for me to say that he isn't retired because he gets money from it but someone else could be retired who did the same thing but didn't get money from it.
That new rod and reel is an "investment" in the "business" :)

DF became a fishing guide. There was always a disagreement between he and DM if he made any money at it.

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I think a key term is financially independent more than retired. The reason I see some of the ER bloggers get picked on is because they say they are retired forever at relatively young ages when they have investable assets of several hundred thousand dollars and maybe a family and house to support. In those cases continuing to work is not really optional. They are neither retired nor FI, but selling the dream often makes more money than selling the reality.
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DF became a fishing guide. There was always a disagreement between he and DM if he made any money at it.

Yup, there is a wide chasm between direct costs and full absorption costing. :D

When I first retired, I thought I might do some consulting on the side, but it never came to pass, which is fine with me. I could probably pick up some small carpentry projects here and there but the whole idea of having a deadline is uncomfortable for me.
I've had the same hobbies for years (before and after I retired). I didn't get into any of them in order to make money (it was just for fun) but as it has turned out I have had some good luck (profits) with collecting rare US coins. Over the past 10 to 15 years "many" US rare coins have increased in value. Some of them substantially. However collectables, like coins, can turn on a dime (no pun intended) So far, so good.
To each his or her own, but if it was important for me to make money at something (if I counted that income in offsetting our essential expenses, for example) I personally would not describe myself as retired. I think bloggers in general, for example, who want to make money probably get more respect if they don't call themselves retired (people still active in a field are probably more on top of what is going on in the field, hungrier for business, etc., etc. vs those retired from that field). I just don't see why it is important to people to be seen as retired if they are still interested in earning money or what exactly is the advantage in being perceived as such. It was hard enough for me to call myself retired when I left my job--I wouldn't have wanted to call myself that earlier. But whatever floats your boat.

My hobbies cost me money so there's no chance I will be using them to make money :)
I've done a little consulting ever since I retired 13 years ago. Never made more than a few thousand bucks a year at it, because I call it a hobby, nothing more. I'm honest enough that I've even filed Schedule C for it despite often not receiving a 1099 from overworked tiny businesses.

Some of it involves creating recipes for new beers. That's something I truly enjoy, and I'm pretty good at it. I have never billed a startup brewery or one that is in its early growth period. Once they start making real profits, I'll charge them for my time if they still want my input, but mainly I do it for fun, and to help make sure there are good beers available wherever I travel. Well, OK I get a lot of free beers but that doesn't count, does it?

All the rest of my hobbies are purely for personal fun, and I'm happy to spend my money on them. In fact, my largest budget category is labeled Hobby/Vacation. It is currently 24% of the total budget, and includes everything we spend on our hobbies and our travel. Purely discretionary spending. A trip to Europe? A new camera or shotgun? Tools? Registration for a half marathon? Anything like that is counted as fun and goes in this category.
I do nothing for money. I save money by growing my own veggies and flowers from seed. No plans to do anything that involves selling. I do have a buddy who grows garlic for sale to local restaurants. He re-did my ground garden last spring. I might let him grow some stuff that requires a bigger grow area than he can do in his own plot, with him doing all of the w*rk. He can sell whatever he grows in my ground garden, minus some small scale picking by me. TBD.

Mr B retired at age 59. He decided to go back to college to convert his Business Mgmt degree to a BS in Accounting. He started up his own home based tax practice, with very nice discounts for veterans. He then got pulled into some forensic accounting for a client with trust issues. He loves doing this type of w*rk. More power to him. :LOL:

I keep the house up, go party at the VFW or play with my little green friends while he does his bookw*rk. :dance:
Just dropped off my old sails and canvas for stitching repair to a guy that does it out of his garage as a second job. Looked like a good hobby to me, I'd guess about $50 per hr, at his leisure.
Managing one's own investments, accounting and taxes can be a money-making hobby.
Like fuego, I also have a blog related to my previous career and it makes a decent income. I am not RE'd but I'd say semi-retired or part timer best describes my current situation.
I consider lifelong learning my hobby so I substitute teach at middle schools in the school district in which I live. I can accept or reject any available job although we are required to work an average of 4 days per month (about 40 days a school year) including 14 Fridays (a day of the week with heavy demand) to stay active in the system.

When I started a couple of years ago, subs had to have a Florida teaching certificate. Ultimately, that requirement went by the wayside when they couldn't find enough subs. From what I understand, the teaching certificate requirement comes and goes depending on sub supply. Currently there are 3 sub levels - AA, BA/BS, and BA/BS with teaching certificate. Each level is eligible for different types of positions (more credentials allow a sub to apply for longer term positions). All the levels pay poorly (about $10 per hour). I went back to school for a year and earned my teaching certificate. I'm certified to teach middle school math (one of my degrees is a math degree) but I can sub any subject (and I have).

The awesome part of the situation is I get to pick whether I want to work and where I want to work. After two years, I have my stable of teachers who call upon me to fill in for them and I rarely take a random job off the website. It's one of the most interesting things I've ever done and, by far, the most difficult (and rewarding) thing I've ever done!
One of my retired friends enters contests for a hobby and has gotten really good at understanding odds and probabilities. She wins all sorts of prizes including hotel stays and vacations.
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