Six Ways to Make Money in the Empty Nest

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
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generating income, make money, empty nest, earn money, easy ways to make money

Do you have a “side hustle?” Or are you in full-time business? Maybe you’re a small business owner, like jewelry designer and ENB subscriber Nancy from Adore Jules, or a travel advisor like ENB subscriber Shannon Leyerle from Vacations by Shannon. Or maybe you’re an author, like ENB subscriber Dr. Jill Grimes (The Ultimate College Student Health Handbook), or a podcaster, like ENB subscriber Kristi Huss (The MOMmentum Podcast).

Clearly, the key to these ladies’ success is being an ENB subscriber! 😂

woman over 50 standing in her office wearing a pink sweater

Seriously, though! With more time on your hands in the empty nest, contributing to your family’s financial bottom line by generating income becomes a real possibility for lots of us! Whether you just want to make some “fun money” or you need to help finance those kids and their higher education, I’ve got some ideas for you that can help you make some (possibly significant) money.

1. Sell Your Old Electronic Devices

I’ve used each of the companies I’m sharing. If you have a device to sell, I recommend that you look into each of them, compare prices, and go with the company that offers the best price. All of them offer:

  • Pre-paid shipping and packaging when you sell to them.
  • Detailed and easy-to-follow instructions on restoring your device to factory settings (thus removing all of your private information) before you send it to them.
  • Free recycling if your device isn’t eligible for sale.


If you own an iPhone, you can trade in your old device for credit toward your next purchase or get an Apple Gift Card you can use anytime.


Not only does Gazelle buy back old devices, but they refurbish and sell pre-owned devices as well. You can save a bundle!

Buy Back Boss

I recently used Buy Back Boss to sell an old iPad. They were so easy to work with! They assign you a Customer Experience Specialist who emails you about your device throughout the evaluation and offer process.

2. Clean Out Your Closet & Consign

Whether you’re downsizing or just want to de-clutter now that your nest is empty, making money via consignment is a great way to go!

 Half Price Books

For books, music, movies, games, gaming consoles, e-readers, and more, try Half Price Books

Play It Again Sports

For sports gear and equipment, try Play It Again Sports.  

Plato’s Closet

For teens and twenty-something boys and girls clothes, try Plato’s Closet.  

Once Upon a Child

For children’s clothes, footwear, toys, dancewear, costumes, baby gear, and furniture, try Once Upon a Child

If you want to use an online option, is the largest online consignment retailer for women’s regular, plus, and maternity clothing and kids’ clothing.


If you’re selling designer clothing, handbags, shoes, jewelry or accessories, I recommend Fashionphile or The Real Real.

For furnitureGoogle “furniture consignment” in your area and read up on the types of furniture (designer, high-end, antique, etc.) various stores accept. Some will pick up; some won’t. For gently used women’s clothing, options should be available in your area.  Use Google to find stores and the types of clothing they accept (designer, vintage, etc.).


Sometimes, you just need the right place to donate items that you are unable to sell. For more on that, see THIS post I wrote about where to donate hard-to-donate items.

3. Trade in Gift Cards

If you have gift cards you aren’t going to use, you can get cash or trade them in for gift cards you will use. Here are the spots I recommend:

Card Cash

One of the most reputable sites for selling unused and unwanted gift cards is You can exchange the gift card for another one that you’d actually use, or sell it to CardCash. They make immediate offers on gift cards, typically ranging from 80% to 92% of the card’s value. If you accept the offer, they deposit payment into your PayPal or give you the option to trade in your gift cards for select other gift cards and receive up to 11% more value than had you simply cashed out. (Popular trade-in options are Amazon, Target, and Wayfair.)


ClipKard accepts unused gift cards from a whole bunch of retailers. I love this site because they have a quick quote tool offering an immediate sales price (a discounted rate based on the monetary value) for your gift card. If you accept their offer, you send the card to ClipKard. Physical gift cards are mailed with a prepaid (by ClipKard) USPS shipping label. Once they receive the card and its balance is verified, the agreed payment is sent through Paypal or a check via USPS.

4. Become a Mystery Shopper

Yes, this is a real thing. I have friends who do it, and it’s an industry that has been around since the 1940s! Mystery shoppers document their experiences to offer feedback to businesses that deal with the public. Mystery shopping jobs are plentiful.

Mystery shoppers are independent contractors (meaning you’re responsible for paying your own taxes and keeping track of tax deductions). Most companies require shoppers to sign an independent contractor agreement (as opposed to signing on as a W2 worker), so keep that in mind. If you’re looking for a full-time situation that offers health insurance and other benefits, this probably isn’t the side hustle for you. Most mystery shoppers work for multiple companies at one time.

Elite CXS

This is a veteran-owned, award-winning mystery-shopping operation based in Hudson, Florida. They partner with major brands and place evaluators in video, phone, and in-person shopping gigs in various industries. Jobs vary by region. Interested? Find out more HERE.

Sinclair Customer Metrics

This company has been in the mystery shopping industry since 1987. They specialize in banking, retail, grocery store, (quick-service) restaurant, and convenience store brands. For more information about working for Sinclair as a mystery shopper, click HERE.

Market Force Information

Market Force Information works with clients in industries from health and wellness and movie studios to specialty retail. They have offices in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom, and they offer mystery shopping jobs in thousands of locations. Market Force also has an app, Eyes:On, which allows mystery shoppers to complete assignments on the go. For more information on their mystery shopper opportunities, click HERE.

For more information on this industry (now commonly referred to as the “customer experience industry”), go to the Mystery Shoppers Provider Association (MSPA)

5. Become a Virtual Assistant

A virtual assistant is an independent (typically home-based) worker who facilitates a business by assisting with administrative, business development, social media, marketing, or other tasks. In most cases, training is provided. In some cases, basic knowledge of things like Word or Excel may be required.

I’m looking for a part-time VA right now to help me with some marketing and graphic design tasks for ENB. Training is provided! If you’re interested, you can read more HERE.

6. Start a Small Business

Interested in something more permanent like a full or part-time job? Do you have a passion, hobby, or skill that would make you a successful entrepreneur?

Did you know that Empty Nest Blessed is a small business? To read more about how the business side of ENB works, check out THIS post.

Affiliate With a Multi Level Marketing Company

Multi Level Marketing companies (now known as Network Marketing Companies) can get a bad rap, but I’ve seen many empty nesters build successful businesses sharing products they love. The people who enjoy it the most and tend to be the most successful seem to be those who meld the interests and expertise they already have with the direct sales company they represent. (For example, a former preschool or kindergarten teacher selling Discovery Toys.)

My advice is to stick with companies that have a good reputation and do your research beforehand to avoid getting into a situation that you’ll regret! Talk to current and former affiliates to get honest feedback. Know that there is typically an up-front financial commitment in order to build up inventory. (But keep in mind that all businesses require some investment in order to get going.) A big plus is that these companies typically offer training, resources, and mentorship.

In addition to the long-standing direct sales companies you may have heard of, like Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, Arbonne, and Amway, here are some of the currently popular Network Marketing Companies with empty nesters:

Become an Entrepreneur

What are you passionate about? Could you turn it into a business idea? I’ve found that if you love what you do, it gives your life purpose and meaning! To get started, I suggest you spend some time doing some research online. Then see if you can set up a coffee date or a FaceTime Q&A with someone who is in a similar business. (Emily Landers, the podcaster behind the podcast How’d She Do That? calls these “informational interviews.”) Everyone loves talking about what they do, and they’ll probably be flattered you asked.

A Few Other Ideas

  • Offer pet-sitting or dog-walking services in your local area. (Start with this Uber-like service HERE.)
  • Start a small business or consulting service in an area of expertise.
  • Participate in the gig economy by doing odd jobs on TaskRabbit.
  • Invest in stocks, real estate, or other passive income streams.
  • Tutor or teach classes or workshops in a skill you excel in
  • Pursue freelance work in writing, design, photography, or other creative fields.

If you’re trying to figure out what’s next for you in the empty nest, you might find THIS POST helpful.

woman standing in her office wearing pink sweater with shoulder ruffles

Pink Shoulder Ruffle Sweater | No-Stain White Girlfriend Jeans

Did I give you some good ideas of ways to make money in your empty nest? Have you tried any of the ideas I wrote about today? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment and share with our little community!

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Suzy Mighell

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  1. For 20 years, I have leased space in an antiques mall where I sell small furniture pieces, vintage clothing, decor, and my favorite: lamps. This fun hobby supports my love of estate sales and antiques shows and an occasional handbag splurge. The wonderful bonus is the community of friends I’ve gathered through this little endeavor. Thank you for all your hard work and for your contagious smile and energy.

    1. Sue,

      What a perfect example of finding fulfillment (and a way to make a little extra money) doing something you love! Thank you so much for sharing that with us, and congratulations!


  2. This is so great! I’ve got a gently-used designer bag in my closet that is larger and heavier than what I want to carry, so I am excited to look into your suggestions! Staying busy with a job or volunteering keeps you young – my children’s museum director mom (who just turned 80!) will attest to that!

    1. Shannon,

      Selling designer bags is a great money-maker! Love this idea!!! Thanks for lighting the way by being a great example of an entrepreneurial woman who started her own business as an empty nester! You’re amazing!


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