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‘I made $20K on Airtasker’: How seniors are redefining retirement

Image: Getty

When you hear the term “gig economy” you might imagine young, tech-savvy graphic designers, web developers or energetic Uber and Deliveroo riders.

But young people aren’t the only ones keen to make a dollar on the side.

Senior Australians are also pursuing some serious side hustles and making thousands.

“From gardening to baking, handyman work to accounting, copywriting and IT help – seniors on Airtasker are earning extra money by using the valuable skills they’ve built up during their lifetime,” Airtasker brand lead Alexandra Tully told Yahoo Finance.

“We’re seeing the over-55 community within Airtasker continue to grow as they embrace the flexibility and control Airtasker offers when choosing not only when they want to work, but with whom they want to work.”

Armed with only her cleaning implements and life experience, 59-year-old Isobel Treharne is one of those older Australians.

As a cleaner on Airtasker, she made $20,000 extra cash in three years. And she plans to continue with the side hustle for as long as she can.

It’s a handy money spinner, but Treharne also enjoys the social aspect of the work.

She works with her clients to find out exactly what needs doing and how they want it done, but as her clients are often businesses, she taps into her background as a secretary to provide them with management and organisation tips.

It’s a good deal for $30 an hour, she argues.

“It’s just good old fashioned service,” she said.

“I initially joined Airtasker due to the lack of opportunities for people in my age bracket. I’m a very hands on person, and always have to be doing things so it worked out well.”

Our ageing population

Australians 65 and over are expected to make up around 25 per cent of the population by 2047 – nearly double their current percentage.

But as we live longer, we’re also retiring later.

“It turns out many tech savvy and physically mobile Baby Boomers are seeing beyond the veneer of glossy cruise brochures and timeshares, and realising work brings a sense of purpose and intellectual stimulation that is far more appealing,” founder of new super fund Zuper, Jess Ellerm said in a recent report.

And according to a study by RAND Institute, Baby Boomers are increasingly putting off retirement for “fulfillment, rather than finances”.

The same study found most older workers would continue working if given the right opportunity.

Now, older workers are turning to jobs gardening or babysitting. Skills they’ve had, but have now learned how to monetise through platforms like Airtasker.

In fact, US retail investor data and insights firm Hearts & Wallets released research in 2017 finding one-third of future retirees anticipate they will earn one-quarter of their income by working. That was a 6 per cent increase from 2016.

A quick scroll through international babysitter website, Juggle Street reveals that while it’s dominated by women in their 20s, women in their 50s and older – many retired teachers – are also using the platform.

It’s the same case at Sittr. Sonia Daoud is 51 and uses the babysitting platform to to supplement her income as a family day care educator.

The single mum said her clients like that she is more mature and doesn’t fit the usual babysitter stereotype.

The payment is guaranteed, it’s work she’s qualified for and good at, it’s helping her pay off her mortgage and critically, she’s in control.

And with more Australians set to retire, Daoud may not be in the minority for long.

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