By 2020, more than 40 percent of the workforce will consist of people working in the gig economy, according to a report from Intuit.
This isn’t just for folks who want to be their own boss. Increasingly, even workers with full-time salaried jobs are relying on side hustles, according to a report (“Gig Economy and the Future of Retirement”) by online investment firm Betterment.
“The gig economy ushered in a new way of working, which in turn has ushered in a new way of retiring,” the Betterment report said. “Whether they’re full-time gig-ers or side-hustlers, today’s workers don’t feel they can save enough for retirement. They’re often saddled with debt or lacking traditional employer-sponsored retirement plans, and intend to turn to gig jobs to supplement or even replace traditional retirement savings.”
For its report, Betterment looked at two categories of gig economy workers: People who rely on independent work and/or temporary contracts as their main source of income, and side-hustlers, workers who supplement a traditional full-time job with a temporary gig.
“As retirement looms, even those with a traditional nine-to-five job are realizing they didn’t save enough and want to increase their nest egg,” the report said.
Betterment examined the challenges faced by full-time and part-time gig workers. Here are some of the findings from the report.
— A third of the folks got a side hustle because of a lack of retirement savings.
— Many of the workers said they won’t quit their gig jobs when they reach retirement age or retire from their full-time career. One in five full-time gig workers said they’ll pick up incremental work in the gig economy as their main source of income following retirement.
— High-income workers (those making $100,000 a year or more from a regular job and side hustle combined) are using gig employment to quickly boost their retirement nest egg.
— Sixty percent of survey respondents said that they are using their gig economy job to pay off some kind of debt.
But there is a downside to the gig economy. The instability of a paycheck can be hard and not having access to workplace retirement plans like 401(k)s can put these workers way behind in saving for retirement.
CNBC profiled some gig workers. Ella Tyler, a retired attorney, found a gig helping students prepare for the Law School Admissions Test with Varsity Tutors.
“Tyler keeps busy teaching classes for the LSAT exam, as well as English as a second language and business writing, for up to $27 per hour,” wrote Lorie Konish for CNBC. “The extra money, plus the ability to still use her professional skills, has given Tyler new confidence.”
“As you get older, you wonder if you still have it,” Tyler told CNBC. “And, yes, I do. So there’s a little bit of an ego satisfaction to it.”
Konish reported that about 31 percent of workers who only work in the gig economy are baby boomers, according to a 2017 Prudential Financial survey, and 34 percent of those workers are retired.
The Harvard Business Review looked at 65 gig workers and reported: “We found remarkably similar sentiments across generations and occupations: All those we studied acknowledged that they felt a host of personal, social and economic anxieties without the cover and support of a traditional employer — but they also claimed that their independence was a choice and that they would not give up the benefits that came with it. Although they worried about unpredictable schedules and finances, they also felt they had mustered more courage and were leading richer lives than their corporate counterpart.”
“Approximately 150 million workers in North America and Western Europe have left the relatively stable confines of organizational life — sometimes by choice, sometimes not,” HBR reported.
Do you have a side hustle that’s help you fund your retirement? Tell me about it. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. Put “Gig economy” in the subject line.
Retirement rants and raves
I’m interested in your experiences or concerns about retirement or aging. What do you like about retirement? What came as a surprise?
If you haven’t retired, what concerns you financially? You can rant or rave. This space is yours. It’s a chance for you to express what’s on your mind. Send your comments to email@example.com. Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Retirement Rants and Raves.”
Last week I reported that the number of workers with $1 million or more in their 401(k) increased to 157,000 at the end of first quarter of this year, an increase of 45 percent compared with the same time a year earlier, according to Fidelity Investments, one of the country’s largest administrators of workplace retirement accounts.
I asked: Are you a 401(k) or TSP millionaire? What advice would you give to people who want to get to where you are?
Eliot from Charlotte said he joined the retirement plan millionaire’s club before he hit 50. Here’s how he did it.
— He started investing the day he turned 21.
— He took full advantage of his company’s match.
— He increased his contributions by 1 percent per year, every year, until he hit the limit. (Currently, that’s $18,500 a year).”Essentially, I took part of every annual increase and gave a portion of that increase to myself at retirement. Since I didn’t have the money as income yet, I didn’t miss it.”
— “I did not stop contributing during down markets, in fact I would target investments into ‘down’ companies that I had confidence in coming back.”
— “I invested funds in companies whose leadership I believed in, and whose products I valued, like Apple, Anthem and Caterpillar.”
— “Rather than just depositing and forgetting, I paid attention to where my money was invested and managed it actively,” Eliot said. “Some of it went into age-indexed funds, a portion in international stocks, and the rest well diversified with the intention of driving long-term growth. When companies I trusted were down, I moved money into those accounts and took advantage of the reduced price.”
“I am amazed at how many adults don’t even contribute to a 401(k) at all, giving up on the free money their companies contribute as a match,” he wrote.
But even with so much saved, Eliot said he’s still concerned about running out of money. He wrote, “Am I confident that I have enough to retire on? Not really. With good fortune and planning I’ll end up with more than $3 million in my 401(k) for retirement. While that sounds like a lot, one medical situation or one catastrophic injury could bleed that money away quickly.”
Diane from Vancouver, Wash., is a 58-year-old 401(k) millionaire. She wanted to share some of her thoughts on retirement and aging.
On health: “Health problems can be the costliest thing that can happen to a person and can ruin your retirement so the earlier you watch your health, the more likely you are to have a good retirement.”
On inflation: “Inflation is a real worry,” she said. “I like to travel and eat out, and both restaurants and hotel prices have really skyrocketed in the last five years.”
On the stock market: “I’m worried about how a future market crash could affect my retirement plans.”
On home values in her area: “For various reasons, homes are not appreciating here like they are in surrounding areas. Moving probably won’t be an option for me as desirable places are far more expensive than where I am living, but I don’t really live in a bad place. But it’s not lost on me I don’t have the options most others I know have. That can be disheartening.”
Newsletter comments policy
Please note it is my personal policy to identify readers who respond to questions I ask in my newsletters. I find it encourages thoughtful and civil conversation. I want my newsletters to be a safe place to express your opinion. On sensitive matters or upon request, I’m happy to include just your first name and/or last initial. But I prefer not to post anonymous comments (I do make exceptions when I’m asking questions that might reveal sensitive information or cause conflict).
If you’re viewing this post online sign up to receive Michelle Singletary’s newsletters right into your email box: “Your Retirement” on Mondays and “Personal Finance” on Thursdays.
Read and share Michelle Singletary’s Color of Money Column on Wednesdays and Sundays in The Washington Post. You may also see the column in your local newspaper.