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While retirement should be a time of focusing on making the most of every day, many older Australians are finding their budgets are increasingly strained and it just seems that much harder to make ends meet.

This situation has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic and the persistent low interest rate environment we all find ourselves in, with many retirees facing even lower returns from their precious retirement savings.

However, it is possible to boost your income in retirement by just stepping back and thinking outside the square in terms of what options you might have to earn a bit of more money. Here are five simple tips that might help you boost your retirement income.

  1. Check your pension

Ensure you are receiving your full pension entitlements. If the value of your investments have fallen, or if you are earning significantly less income from when you first applied for the pension, contact Centrelink to check they have your correct details.

At the same time, double-check if you might be eligible for any new programs you weren’t aware of when you first applied for the pension such as the carers’ payments, rent assistance or the energy supplement.

As well keep your Seniors Card close at hand to make full use of the discounts and benefits that come with it. Every dollar saved is like an extra dollar earnt.

  1. Start a side hustle

This is a very catchy phase for simply earning a bit of money on the side. Importantly, you can earn up to $300 a fortnight or almost $8,000 a year from working and this amount is not included in the Age Pension income test. This is known as the work bonus.

So, don’t be put off thinking any money you do earn will reduce your pension entitlements. A side hustle can be as big or as small as you can imagine. It might be as simple as mowing a neighbour’s lawn or walking their dog to starting a fully fledged business.

  1. Review your investments

Regularly review your investments. The returns offered on all investments constantly change and you should be aware of where your money is being invested and whether you can get a better return elsewhere.

For example, owning shares in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia has long been a solid income generator for retirees but many will find they might be better investing more funds at the moment, in the big mining companies such as Rio Tinto and BHP.

Remember, your retirement savings are precious and irreplaceable so never trade higher returns for more risk. However, be mindful of just what the returns are on your investments and whether you can better them with a bit of tweaking.

  1. Make money from your next holiday

While the pandemic has stopped a lot of people from travelling, this is slowly changing, and more and more people are starting to travel within Australia. Think about whether there are options for you to go travelling and perhaps rent out your home while you’re away.

This isn’t for everyone. For those who think they might be interested, there are lots of websites that can help you find a safe way of doing this and some websites help you effectively swap your home for someone else’s home.

Many people in retirement rent their homes out regularly and find this a great way of not only travelling themselves but making new friends along the way.

  1. Finally sell that junk

Most people find as they move into retirement that they have too much junk on their hands and a clever way of finding extra income is just to sell it. More you don’t have to use relatively expensive platforms like ebay to do so.

Most local areas have free community Facebook pages where you can advertise whatever you might have for sale free of charge. It’s a great way to clear out the junk in your spare bedroom and meet locals who live near you at the same time.

Patricia Howard, author of The No-Regrets Guide to Retirement: how to live well, invest wisely and make your money last (Wiley), is a licenced Australian financial adviser. She has a Commerce Degree from the University of Melbourne, holds her own Australian Financial Services Licence and recently passed the FASEA Financial Adviser exam. Find out more at www.patriciahoward.com.au

Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.

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