While President Obama has already found a home for when his family no longer resides in the White House, he hasn't yet revealed his post-presidential plans. But it's likely that he'll come out on top financially after leaving office in January.
For one, barring a sudden turn of fortune, Obama is approaching the end of his two terms in office with a rising approval level. In late May, about 53 percent of Americans approved of his job performance, up from about 47 percent a year earlier, according to Gallup. Approval ratings typically continue to rise after a president leaves office, which could help Obama secure his post-presidential career by whetting the public's appetite for his memoirs and speeches.
Obama has been tight-lipped about his next moves, but most former presidents follow one of several patterns in their careers after leaving the White House, said Burton Kaufman, the author of "The Post Presidency: From Washington to Clinton." Some mimic George Washington's model of withdrawing (or seeming to withdraw from) from public life, while others, like Bill Clinton, go on the public speaking circuit and strengthen their corporate ties, while also working on global initiatives.
Then there's a third route as exemplified by Jimmy Carter, who has taken a role as a humanitarian and peace ambassador since leaving office.
Obama's post-presidential years may look like an amalgamation of Clinton's and Carter's approaches, Kaufman noted. He predicts that Obama will likely engage in humanitarian efforts, while also bolstering his coffers by booking public speaking engagements. Kaufman figures Obama will write a memoir after leaving office, following up on the president's previous books, such as "Dreams from My Father."
"There will be great demand for Obama on the speaking circuit, and he'll bring a lot of money in on his [book] advance" because he's ending his terms with a high approval rating and he's considered an excellent writer, Kaufman said. "His will be a consequential post-presidency."
Publishers may bid up a post-White House memoir from Obama. Kaufman estimates he could sign for more than the $15 million advance Clinton earned for his memoir.
Aside from book sales, former presidents typically find lucrative speaking engagements. Clinton brings in several hundred thousand dollars per speech, with his highest fee since January 2014 standing at $500,000. Together, he and Hillary Clinton have earned about $25 million from roughly 100 speeches.
"It's easy -- you do one lecture, and you repeat it again and again," Kaufman noted.
Obama will also need to raise money for his presidential library. Opening a shrine to one's presidency is now considered de rigueur, but it comes at a cost. The William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park required $165 million to build the 30-acre complex. The George W. Bush Presidential Center had a $500 million price tag.
Because presidential libraries are built with private funds, former presidents often focus on fundraising after leaving office. Once built, the library is transferred to the federal government and operated by the National Archives.
The Barack Obama Foundation is planning to build the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side of Chicago, although it's still searching for a site. The center will include a library, museum, office and activity space, at an estimated cost of $1 billion, according to The New York Times, which added that Obama plans to push for donations once he leaves the White House.
"With Obama, he leaves scandal free, and there's no question that he has a great record of accomplishment, which I think will become even greater if the Affordable Care Act isn't repealed," Kaufman said. "He'll try as much as he can to promote his accomplishments. He's an intellectual, and he'll be more oriented toward writing, speaking, teaching than making fortunes of money, although he will."