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Small Business Suggestions from our Readers

Carrie Bledsoe started her own concierge business. She runs errands for her clients including buying groceries, shopping for gifts, arranging parties, making vacation plans, seeing their pets are taken care of while clients are on vacation, etc. She started doing this for friends while she was in between jobs and has turned it into a full-time job. She told us she has even hired reliable people to help her during the holidays as this is her busiest season.

Doreen McManus collects used-goods that others throw out and makes small purchases at yard sales and sells them on Craigslist. She regularly checks the alleys and the front of people’s homes on garbage collection day.   She found that baby items, bunk beds, video games and electronics sell well. “It is amazing what people discard that has value,” she wrote. “Anyone who is not afraid of getting into other peoples junk can do this,” she went on. “After a while you learn what will sell and what will not.”

Bill Franks, a retired engineer, spent a great deal of time designing landscaping for his own house and wrote us that he was successful in starting a small landscaping business..

Betty Pohler has two dogs that she walks regularly and said in her email "I thought why can't I take care of some other people's dogs and get paid to do so?" Now she employs 3 other neighborhood "dog people" to assist her growing dog walking business and she even has been given keys to the houses of some of her clients so she can feed and check on their dogs while they are on vacation.

Peter Minter, a retired fireman, said he was always handy around his house and now has a growing business painting and doing small repairs in the neighborhood and said he has even been contacted because of a referral to work in a town 30 miles away.

Marge Blankenship has her grandsons helping her to cut grass in the summer and remove snow in winter. Her small enterprise has grown to the point where she now utilizes neighborhood kids to help keep her customer's properties looking well maintained. She told us "its easy, why didn't I think of this before.".

Morrie Cravits wrote to tell us he was always a good organizer and thought "why can't I put this skill to use" and as a result he has built a business cleaning out and organizing garages. "You wouldn't believe how much junk piles up in people's garages," he told us and "almost everyone I spoke with were real glad to have me pitch in to clean and organize." He urged us to tell others to try this as a source of income.

Corey and Sally Bridgewater started selling their handicrafts at a small craft market 2 years ago and now they travel to many craft shows and flea markets where they not only sell what they make, but sell all kinds of goods they get on consignment and even purchase items to sell "if we can buy them right" said Sally in her email to us.

Millie Cohn had many friends that were downsizing from the homes they had lived in for years or the large condos they owned into smaller condos and appartments. Although the movers could handle the actual moving there was still a great deal of organizing and planning that needed to be done as well as work in getting things where they belong in the new and smaller living space. She started out helping friends accomplish this and now runs a good sized senior relocation organization.

Mary Francis Milligan always loved to cook. Now that her 5 kids are out of the house she put her cooking skills to use by helping busy friends and neighbors plan, pick up and cook the food they serve at parties. This led to her being asked to do so for others she did not know.  She charges for her time and works within the budget her customers provide. She told us that she has handled a party as big as 50 but had to hire some help to serve and clean up.  She has even put together some meals for special occasions for just a couple who wanted to celebrate in their own home.

Katy Walters always considered herself a great shopper. She knew just where to find bargains as well as those special gifts that no one else thought of.  Now she uses this ability to shop for others. She works with both men and women who are either to busy to shop for gifts or things they need for their home or just don't like shopping.  She receives a percent of the total cost of what she buys but has a minimum charge for her time. She also returns and exchanges things for her customers but cautions she does not provide this service by itself.

Franklin Bhaumer has been a dog lover all his life but as he got older he found he did not have the strength to lift his 65 pound dog into his car. This gave him the idea to start a pet transport business. He purchased a van and hired some high school kids to help with the lifting and now transports larger dogs to and from the vet or where ever their owners so desire.  Because of demand he is expanding his business and plans to purchase an old ambulance which can not only be used for  just transport but also to move sick or infirm dogs and with the aid of veterinary assistants, keep the dogs comfortable on the way to the vets

Arthur Blaylock writes us to say he's been selling on Ebay since he retired several years ago; He makes enough to pay for his health insurance ($1000.00/MO) and some other household expenses.He says he picks up items to sell in thrift shops and seasonal yard sales and church fairs.. He says "the nice thing about selling is that I can do so at my leisure or stop when I'm on vacation." 

Francine Taylor was always a good organizer and put her talents to work as a Move Manager. She assists people coordinate their move including separating what is to be moved from what needs to be sold, given to family or charity and thrown out. She helps with some of the packing and labeling even in the deciding of what items go to which rooms in the new home. Most of her clients are seniors but some are busy younger workers who do not have the time.

Frenchy Legrand wrote to tell us he started a stove and grille cleaning company. He started cleaning neighborhood grills and stoves as many of his neighbors either did not want to do the job themselves or did not do it well. He and his staff of 3 now do 5 to 10 a day at a cost of $90 to $200 depending on the size of the job and the amount of cleaning necessary.

Yuval Zaliouk retired from a career as conductor of the Toledo Symphony and started a business with his wife selling cookies based on his grandmother's recipe. Almondina cookies now sell 12,000 cases a day and can be found in places like Trader Joe's and Publix  (from an artilce in USA Today)

These kinds of business require very little capital and can provide needed extra income. In some cases what starts out as a small business can grow into a highly satisfactory source of extra money.

If you have started such a business or know of someone who has done so and would be willing to share your story with RetiredBrains for the benefit of our visitors, please contact us.

Going into business with your parent or child. The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article November 15 on several businesses where a parent and child successfully started a small business together. In each case there were both advantages and challenges but both contributed and a good deal of revenue was created.

Can You Rely on Social Security and Your Retirement Savings?

Many current retirees can't. Here's why and what some are doing to create some income. Older Americans have lost a good part of their retirement savings in the stock market, the value of their homes and properties have substantially diminished, pensions have been pared back or eliminated and the cost of health care has increased exponentially. Even those who are on Medicare are paying a great deal more than they anticipated.

The average 65-year-old couple retiring in 2011 with Medicare insurance coverage would need approximately $276,000 to cover medical expenses over the course of 20 years. This estimate includes deductibles, coinsurance costs, likely out-of-pocket expenses, and some services excluded by Medicare. The figure does not include over-the-counter medications, most dental services, and most long-term care expenses and perhaps a good deal more if they need to use a nursing home.

Americans are living longer, and as a result, health care expenses continue for many years past what our parents and grandparents paid as a result of their shorter life spans. Once Americans make it to age 65, men can expect to live an additional 17 years and women can expect to live 20 more years.

If you are looking for suggestions, other than save and invest more, to help you live the lifestyle you had planned during your retirement years I have tried to address them..

To start off your thinking, I have included a list of small business enterprises which have been developed by seniors, all of which took very little capital and provide a regular income stream. They are listed to excite your interest in what can be accomplished and hopefully spur ideas that you might be able to develop yourself.

Copyright 2014 by Retired Brains