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Five Businesses for “Retirement”

Quarters add up to dollars

Quarters add up to dollars

Like many people who start a financial blog, I have a desire to achieve financial independence or be able to “retire.”Some people argue that you can’t be retired if you still work. I don’t think it matters what you call it. I hope to get out of the day to day grind that we get stuck in to pay the bills. Within 10-12 years, my husband and I hope to be free of that, but I am not one to sit around the house watching the Game Show Network. I have a list of possible business opportunities that seem promising. These may never pan out, but it’s fun to dream.

1) Property Management-We already have a residential rental and a commercial rental. We hope to add 2-3 more over the next several years. By that time, we should be more experienced as landlords, and might even take on management of other properties. If we are “retired,” we should have plenty of time to take calls and fix leaky toilets in the middle of the night. However, I watched a show called World’s Worst Tenants this weekend. After seeing them wrestle an alligator out of a tenants bath tub, that could make me change my mind. We’ll see.

2)Laundromat-Don’t laugh. My neighbor is a true entrepreneur. He’s “retired” from his career as a police detective, and has owned several businesses. He currently owns a laundromat and is raking in the dough. His biggest money maker is drop off service. Paying someone to do your laundry, who would have thought? There would be a good chunk of money to put down in buying one, either through cash savings or a business loan, but then your overhead is only rent, insurance, repairs, electricity, water, and a few minimum wage employees. You also need a big bucket to take all the quarters to the bank.

3)Pet Sitting/Boarding-It is no secret that I love animals, and I could certainly see myself pet sitting if I didn’t have a day job. A boarding kennel would be more of an investment, but I think the local ones in our area do really well. Cons would be working when everyone else is on holiday, but I guess you could hire someone if you had to.

4)Mountain Bike Guiding-We live in an area with a very active outdoor culture. Some of the bigger mountain bike towns like Moab, UT and Durango, CO have mountain bike guides that take beginner-intermediate mountain bikers out on trails and basically supply bikes and helmets, lead them, make repairs, and make sure they don’t get eaten by mountain lions. We are in a smaller area, but have some great trails, and there are tons of tourists that visit Mesa Verde National Park nearby. We’d have to work out some sort of agreement with a bike shop for rentals, have some sort of a transport van or truck, and we’d need insurance. My husband is an expert biker, and used to be a ski instructor, so he knows how to be a cheerleader and hold hands when necessary. I think we could make this work for the warm months if our bones and joints hold out.

5)Be an Eye Doctor-This is probably the most likely scenario. I don’t want to run a practice or work full time, but I already have the training and connections to make this pretty likely. I can’t sing, don’t play instruments, am not great with computers, cooking, or housekeeping, but I am good at being an eye doctor, and there are always doctors looking for fill in work. I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

When I “retire” or achieve financial independence, I hope to have enough passive income to cover expenses, but running some sort of a business or continuing to do what I do now are very likely options to earn extra income and challenge the brain. The other nice thing about any of these opportunities is the fact that I could take an extended leave to travel if we wanted to do that. Whether I do one, several, or none of these options, it is pretty fun to imagine a life where I get to pick and choose.

Do you consider it retirement if you still work in some capacity? What would your “retirement” business be?


About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I think I would also like the pet sitting option. Both my wife and I love animals and I think we would happily do it as a full time gig.

  2. I would definitely like to own a few rental properties when I’m retired. My wife is on board and loves the idea of being a landlord, especially when we are retired!

  3. I don’t consider it retirement if you still work somewhat, but this is something that I often catch myself interpreting wrong as well since I often say that I want to retire (but with plans on working something that I enjoy more).

  4. We totally consider it retirement if you’re still working. The difference is between working because you HAVE to and working because you WANT to.

    Living in S FL, we see tons of retirees, and the happiest ones are those that have kept their minds engaged – and that’s usually by running a small business for a few hours/day or /week. One of our 89-year-old friends recently had some ground floor space renovated and converted into storage units that he’s already got renters lining up around the block for. It’s not causing him any stress, and he thinks it’s a fun challenge. Plus, he’s got more than enough money if he wanted to just sit there and do nothing for the rest of his life. But he likes doing what he’s doing. What more could a person want in “retirement”? =)

    • I would have to agree with that. My Grandpa did great after retirement when he could work on his farm and raise his cattle, but when he got too old for that he went downhill fast. I hope to keep my mind active long after the body wears out.

  5. Washing other people’s laundry is probably the oldest side hustle on the planet. It’s even in A Christmas Carol.

    I’d be willing to bet that’s where your neighbor makes all of his business. It turns out that runnning a laundromat is an expensive business. That’s why so many close down all the time and why the open ones are usually run down, the owners just don’t make the money they need to keep them up.

    • I don’t know numbers, but he used to be a distributor for Hostess and for another bread company and he was bringing in $8K a month. He says the laundry is better than that. I am just amazed at the people who
      want others to see their dirty underwear. That’s a little too personal for me!

  6. My ideal retirement business is a guest house, with 3-4 rooms, and me cooking for the guests. I heard a couple of times about the laudromats but heard about problems too, when homeless people or drug dealers start enjoying the flexible opening hours.

  7. When I achieved financial freedom, I “worked” 2-3 hours a day. I never considered it work because I liked what I was doing! To a great extent , it was looking after my investments. Coin operated laundries are money makers. In the early 1980s I was a CFO of a group of companies that had coin op (about 40K) equipment in apartment buildings. They were also the distributor for a major coin op laundry equipment company. The built and sold laundry stores. Location is everything!

    • Absolutely! We live in a lower socioeconomic area with lots of renters or people coming in from the reservations, so laundries are very busy. I can also see the need near colleges. If you were in the suburbs in a wealthy area, not so much.

  8. Hmmm a laundry mat, I would have never thought of that. But I can definitely see the demand behind it. I would certainly pay someone to do my laundry. Great article I look forward to following you.

  9. Those are all pretty great options. Pet sitting can be fun, unless the pet is not well-trained and goes to the bathroom inside!

    • That would make the whole kennel complex idea be more appealing! I think I’d have high standards if I was keeping them in my home.

  10. I’ve heard laundromats were a really good investment opportunity! That makes sense — but you’re probably right, it’s much more lucrative to keep on keepin’ on with your skills, especially as you become more of an expert.

  11. I’d love some kind of hands-off business, though most businesses require some kind of management. Rentals and something like a coffee stand or laundromat seem like a good idea.

    • I love the idea of a coffee stand, but I hate coffee, so I’d never know if it was good or not. Maybe ice cream or candy instead?

  12. Mandy @ MoneyMasterMom

    We plan to work when we retire too. The big thing we’re looking for is flexibility and freedom. We want our work to be online so we can live where ever we want, and we want to have flexibility in our hours, or using virtual assistants to lessen our workload.

  13. I do know of someone who has a laundry mat…and he is successful with it. You are on the right track. I thought all your ideas made sense and they pertained to your and your husband’s strengths.

    • If you can make money doing something you enjoy, that’s icing on top in my book. Not sure if I enjoy laundry, but I like quarters.

  14. I TOTALLY agree with you that you can be retired but still working!! I know I plan to still work after I retire. The difference is that I won’t ACTUALLY need the money like I do now. It will just be doing what I enjoy without any financial consequences. Like your #5, I will probably just keep doing what I do now but only part time.

  15. I will not call it retirement if you still continue workin, whether you put up your own business or you start working from home. I just call it “canged careers” — from an engineer to an entrepreneur or a teacher to a writer/blogger. Given the opportunity to start my own business, I would like to continue with my hair acccessories business. At the moment, we are looking for our second home and we will rent out this property. When things turn out right, I am a property manager by the first half of 2013.

  16. We always talk about owning a Bed & Breakfast in retirement. It sounds nice, but it’s probably way more work than we would really want to do in “retirement” and we would probably be stuck there all the time!

  17. Thought provoking list, great to have options. I really like the mountain biking guide idea. We also live in an area with great trails and I don’t know of any current guides – could be a great side income for me on weekends. Going to explore this idea!

    • I really think there is a market. I bet tons of people want to try biking but just don’t know the trails or have the right equipment.

  18. I really liked that you mapped out possible “income producers” for your future. Dreaming, in it’s own right, is still planning.

    Of the options mentioned, I really like dog sitting. It seems entirely realistic. Low overhead. No angry customers to deal with. Just the occasional bark and bite.

  19. That’s funny you brought up the laundry mat and drop off cleaning. I used to own a route that had the toy crane machines you see in laundry mats. When I went to my laundry mat location I would consistently see people bring in bags of clothes to drop off and have washed and thought about it quite a few times. I guess I never checked it out for myself, but I would assume the charge and that kinda stuff would be pretty decent.

  20. Interesting that laundromats are so lucrative! And it sounds like a reasonably stress free kind of business.

    My background is in editorial work – writing, editing, blogging, social media… Who knows how those might evolve over the next 40 years, but they could be conducive to part time work in rtirement.

  21. Laundromat is a great idea.

  22. I’ve always thought a laundromat or coin-operated car wash sounds like the most fun businesses have! I used to go around with my best childhood friend and her dad to collect the quarters from their car wash business, and I thought it was so cool to see all the quarters come tumbling out of the bin. What a neat way to make money, one quarter at a time!

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