Supplement your Social Security income

Use time, talents and love of animals

If you're like me, you get bupkis in Social Security income. Bupkis is an appropriate term because it's a Yiddish word, which is literally translated as "beans" and is derived from a Slavic word for "goat droppings".

The second Wednesday of every month, I receive $1,150.50 minus United Health premium and the tax I pay ahead to cover the extra money I make from freelance writing.

Passive income

But I have also started an online store through Bonfire, selling T-shirts I've designed, as I started out in the newspaper business as a graphic designer.

This is passive income, where you sell something online and hope someone buys it.

Perhaps you have a lifelong passion you want to pursue and make money from? Then you might try Etsy at

Etsy is a reputable, global, online marketplace, where people come together to make, sell, buy and collect unique items. "We're also a community pushing for positive change for small businesses, people, and the planet," the company says.

It works this way: There's a 20 cent listing fee and listings are active for four months.

The 6.5 percent transaction fee is 3 percent of your sale plus a 25 cent payment processing fee.

When you sell an item, there's a small commission and standard payment processing fee. If you want, they add a 15 percent offsite ads fee, where Etsy pays to advertise your items across the web through ads, and you only pay a fee when you make a sale from an ad.

Granted, this will be computer-intensive and you might be forced to bribe a grandchild to walk you through it, but then again, it may be a bonding experience.

Take a shot

If you're a photographer, as I am, you can mount your photos on a site, like, where they take no money from your sales, but charge a monthly fee. I pay $28 a month and that's a real bargain. There's also, run by the Duncan Miller Gallery in Los Angeles, You submit photographs and their collectors buy them, but you have to have them printed and send them to the gallery.

Sure, you can fudge and get them printed at Walgreens, but I think they prefer a fine art paper.

You could enter contests, like the 2024 Alaska Magazine photo contest with a deadline of 2 p.m. Alaska Standard Time on Aug. 31, 2024. It's free to enter.

The categories are:

Alaskan Life. Alaskans and/or their way of life, traditions, adventuring, culture, or authentic "only in Alaska" moments;

Wildlife. Animals native to Alaska. (Images of animals in captivity will not be considered.)

Scenic. Landscapes and scenery of Alaska with or without the human element

Action. Anything in motion-people, animals, sports, nature, or anything else that shows movement.

And there's prizes! The Grand Prize includes a one-year subscription to Alaska Magazine and printed photo in a 2025 edition of Alaska Magazine, as well as two tickets to anywhere Alaska Airlines flies.

Visit for more details.

Sink some cash

Over the years, I've played the stock market, modestly. In 1997, when the market crashed, I went to the brokers in Anchorage and took out 20 shares each of Apple and Microsoft. The agent laughed at me, but at $13 per share they grew to $76. I cashed them in before they hit the big time, but did buy land with it in Skagway, then built a house, then sold it, then bought land up on the hill, and built a cabin, then sold that at a profit.

I did not do so well with the penny stock of the medical company Exoskeleton, which made supportive body gear for paraplegics and others with bodily damage caused by war. They would have looked like Transformers.

But the company failed after the military decided not to buy the equipment.

Penny stocks are a good way to test the waters to find what sort of company you want to invest in.

Take an animal

Pet-sitting can be the answer to a lonely senior who loves cats or dogs, but does not want the responsibility of buying food or paying for veterinarian bills.

You can start with Pet Sitters International, where you create an account and they notify you of opportunities in your area.

Go to to find out if this company is right for you.

You can also post your dog-walking or pet-sitting in Craigslist for free.

Sound off

We're old, we have opinions and there are companies that want to hear from you.

For the latest online survey, go to to find a paying study. Or try, or

Or try them all. Again, if you're not computer savvy, have a relative walk you through.

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