More people are retiring with less savings than they need to be comfortable. Much less. According to Northwestern Mutual, 21% of Americans have no retirement savings at all. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) says around 29% of households age 55 and older have neither retirement savings nor a pension.
These numbers may sound surprising and even daunting, but it’s important to remember that it’s never too late to save, even after retirement. Here are a few things you should know about saving money after retirement.
What you need to know about retirement
Retirement is on the rise. A 2018 report by Yahoo! Finance stated there are nearly 10,000 people turning 65 years old every day. Within the next 10 years, the number will reach nearly 12,000 people a day.
Americans are living, on average, more than two decades after the traditional retirement age of 65. A report by the Miami Herald found the average 65-year-old American man will live to be nearly 86 years old, while the average 65-year-old American woman will live to nearly 88 years old.
Nearly half of Americans aren’t sure how much they need for retirement. The 19th Annual Transamerican Retirement Survey, released in 2019, found 46% of Americans are guessing at how much money they need.
With increasing life expectancies and financial uncertainties leading up to retirement, here’s how to get on track once you’re retired.
Is it too late to start saving? Some last-minute tips
It’s never too late to start saving. If you’ve retired and realize you haven’t saved enough, consider these ideas.
1. Get out of retirement
Maybe it’s not feasible to return to the last work position you once had. There are still work options available. You can take a part-time job in retail or hospitality. If you’ve always been the crafty type, start selling your artwork. You can work with a temp agency to get short-term work, and commit to saving part of what you earn.
2. Delay drawing Social Security
For those who were born in 1943 or later, there’s a strategy that will get your more Social Security. For every year you delay taking out benefits after you reach retirement age, your benefits increase by 8% until you reach the age of 70. You automatically save more money when you delay drawing Social Security.
3. Consider a reverse mortgage
If you own a home and have equity, you might consider a reverse mortgage. This type of loan is borrowed against the value of your home. You receive funds as a lump sum, a line of credit or a fixed monthly payment.
Consider what you own, what you need and what you’d be OK doing without. Maybe it’s selling a big home and moving to a senior retirement community, selling an extra vehicle or selling your designer clothes and handbags. Put what you make into savings.
5. Update your 401(k) and individual retirement account (IRA) contributions
According to Investopedia, once you turn 70½, you are no longer allowed to contribute to a traditional IRA. You can still contribute to a Roth IRA, however, so make sure you have one set up. If you do opt out of retirement and continue to work, you can contribute part of your salary to a 401(k).
6. Consider Social Security options for married couples
If you do need to take out Social Security benefits, and you are married, you can still increase savings. The best way to do so is for the higher earner to delay claiming benefits longer and suspend paying contributions. The spouse with lower earnings can claim the spousal benefit. This tactic still results in savings, while also providing benefits.
7. Become a roommate
Embrace your inner Golden Girl. Look for a roommate. You’ll get companionship, lower cost of living, help with housework (hopefully) and less space to take care of.
8. Trim your lifestyle and spending
Take a look at your purchases over the past few months. Identify spending habits that you can eliminate. It might be a membership you don’t use any more, or maybe you start cooking more meals at home instead of going out to eat as often. Keep a diary to track your spending. Note extravagant purchases and see ways to save.
9. Move somewhere with a lower cost of living
You could save tens of thousands of dollars a year in cost of living by moving to a new state, city or even country.
10. Ask your loved ones for help
You spent years raising your children. If you have a good relationship with them, you can communicate your financial needs honestly with them and see how they can help. Other family members, like siblings, may be able to provide assistance, too.
11. Look into public benefits
The National Council on Aging has a benefits checkup website where you can view public programs that can help with decreasing your expenses. You may be eligible for benefits including care assistance, transportation, medical assistance and health care.
12. Research debt reduction options
If your debt is too difficult to manage, talk with a financial advisor, credit counseling agency or bankruptcy lawyer to discuss your options. You may qualify for debt relief options that can help you better adjust to life in retirement.
How to cut lifestyle costs during retirement
You could well outlive the average life expectancy. The world’s oldest living person is Kane Tanaka, who will turn 117 years old in 2020. Save now by decreasing your lifestyle costs to ensure you have enough for the future. Use these techniques.
13. Manage your debt
Managing your debt is a good first step to cutting lifestyle costs. In some cases, it may be better to keep debt like a home loan so that you have more to spend now. As mentioned, a reverse mortgage may be a viable solution that can help you save even more.
14. Seek out bargains and discounts
Cut coupons. Use deals websites. Take advantage of senior citizen discounts. The money you save adds up over time.
15. Use public transportation
Using public transportation provides lots of benefits if it’s accessible to you. You can get exercise by walking to the transportation stop. You lessen your environmental footprint when you don’t drive a car. And it’s a nice way to get out in the community life and see some new sights along the way. If you use transportation like a subway or light rail, you’ll always know how long it will take you to get somewhere, since you don’t have to worry about traffic. That can reduce stress in your life, too.
16. Vacation for less
Experiencing new homes away from home doesn’t have to be expensive. Check out destinations within driving range of your town. You might be able to encounter an entirely different climate and change of scenery just an hour away. Also, explore options like home-sharing services to save money on hotel rooms when traveling. Book vacations in off seasons to save more.
17. Consider government and nonprofit assistance
There is no shame in seeking out financial help. There are numerous government and nonprofit programs designed for seniors. Do an online search for senior services in your city to see what’s available.
18. Stay healthy
One of the easiest ways to save money is to prioritize your health. Preventive care is a big money-saver. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults ages 50 years and older get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week, plus at least two strength-building sessions a week.
19. Learn how to sell online
Get rid of things you don’t need by selling them online. There are tons of broad and niche online marketplaces like eBay and OfferUp where you can make some quick cash by selling your things.
20. Prioritize entertainment needs
Entertainment is nice to have, not a necessity. Life should be fun, though. Look for free entertainment options like art fairs or movies in the park. If you’re looking for entertainment because you’re bored, explore free or lower-cost hobbies, like yoga or reading books from the library.
How to handle your money during retirement
Avoid stress about money in your retirement by consciously managing it. You’ll want to have a nice nest egg to continue enjoying life, pay for medical expenses and cover any emergencies that come up. Follow these steps.
21. Understand how much you’re spending
Look at your spending over the past 3 months, using your banking statement. If you primarily use cash, write down what you think you spent on purchases. Start keeping a spending diary so you get an accurate view of your expenses.
22. Budget for now and the future
Saving is always important, even after you’ve retired. In your budget, allot funds for savings. Try to build a solid emergency fund that could cover at least 3 months of your expenses in your savings.
23. Reduce your debt
Use the money-saving tips in this article to put those savings toward debt. Debt is stressful and can climb quickly when it builds interest. Pay off growing debts like credit card debt as soon as possible.
24. Consider some guaranteed income
Talk with a financial planner about setting up guaranteed income, perhaps part of your retirement savings through a tool like a guaranteed annuity income. This way, you’ll still be generating income, even in retirement.
25. Plan for your taxes
You’ll still owe taxes even when you’re not working. Work with a financial planner to get organized for taxes. Set aside money accordingly.
26. Invest wisely
At this point in life, you’ll want to make less risky investments than you did when you first started working. But you’ll still want to invest. You can get a much higher return on investment by investing in stocks compared to waiting for a savings account to grow. After the age of 50, you can take advantage of catch-up contributions to IRAs and 401(k)s, too.
27. Maximize credit card points
Look at the perks your current credit cards offer, like points for travel or cash back, and make sure you’re taking advantage of them. You might also consider signing up for a new credit card that has a bonus offer you want, like extra travel miles if you are planning a trip.
Start Saving More Today
It’s not too late to start saving and maximize what you already have. Use these tips to make your retirement more comfortable.