12 Last-minute Ways to Save for Retirement
How to survive retirement with little to no money.
Are you nearing towards retirement age without enough set aside to maintain your lifestyle? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to GoBanking survey in 2016, 3 out of 10 baby boomers aged 55 and above have no retirement savings. 26 percent of those who were able to save say their savings don’t even get near $50,000 – a very insufficient amount for anyone to live comfortably in retirement.
We’ve always been told from the moment we received our first paycheck to think about the future and start saving for our nest eggs. However ideal it may seem, there are inevitable setbacks along the way that may prevent you from saving up. Maybe you’ve got a hard time staying longer in one job, maybe you can’t find a room for saving when you’re raising kids alone, maybe you’re still paying off college debts, or maybe you were simply one of the people affected by the recession.
Whatever the reasons that thwarted your plans to save up for a comfortable retirement, doesn’t matter. In reality, older adults with little to no savings cannot really make up for lost time to reach a $1 million nest egg. Experts say, you either have to work harder and longer, or never retire at all. But don’t fret. There are still many ways to survive retirement with no money. Try these last-minute options…
- Catch-Up with your 401k and Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Contributions. Whatever age you are now as you’re reading this article, you should start putting a large portion of your income away for retirement savings. This may entail cutting down your costly lifestyle but it will benefit you in the long run. For last-minute savers, IRS offers catch-up contributions which can add up to your retirement fund.
People aged 50 and up can make annual catch-up contributions of up to $6,000 from 2015-2017 through savings plans such as 401(k), 403(b), SARSEP and governmental 457(b).
- Change your view of retirement. Just because you’ve reached 60 years old doesn’t mean you should stop working if you still can. Consider working longer or working part-time while in retirement. If you’re 40 or 45 years old, you can still save an ample amount if you retire in your 70s as long as you can still do it. This way, you can give your nest egg more time to grow. Besides, there are a lot of benefits to working past the retirement age besides money. It helps you keep physically and mentally active, it gives you an opportunity to socialize and avoid isolation, and it reminds you that you’re still a
vital part of the community.According to a study by Merrill Lynch and Age Wave, 47 percent of baby boomers today prefer working in retirement. And 72 percent of incoming baby boomers aged 50 and up say they also plan to do the same in the future.
- Postpone collecting your Social Security benefits. For most retirees, the average Social Security check is $1,287. To the frugal boomers, this may be enough to make ends meet but for most who wish to retire with grace and live off their remaining years fulfilling their dreams – such traveling or getting a Ph.D., social security benefits alone is not enough. If your nest egg is insufficient, collecting your social security earlier is very tempting. But if you wait a few more years, you can get a higher paycheck. Do you know that for every year that you delay your benefits after you reach your full retirement age (usually 62 years old), your social security payout increases by 7 to 8 percent?For people born in the 1960s and beyond, full retirement age is 77 years old. If you start collecting your benefits at the age of 70, your benefit amount can grow up to 32 percent – a significant increase to your payout that can add up to your retirement savings which can enable you to live a relatively comfortable life.
- Do the Couple’s Social security Tactic. Married couples can benefit greatly from social security if they do the following strategies:The first strategy involves claiming and suspending. For married couples, experts suggest that the one earning the highest should put off claiming for his or her benefits longer (usually past his full retirement age), and suspend paying contributions. The one with lower earnings can claim his spousal benefit. As the higher-earning spouse delays his benefit over time, his or her social benefit will increase. The second strategy is ideal for couples with the same salaries during their lifetime. Both of the married couple retires. One of them claims his or her benefit while the other takes the spousal benefit. The one who took the spousal benefit has to delay withdrawing his or her social security benefit until the age of 70. At first, living with only one social security check for a couple may require less spending in your first few years of retirement but once the one who put off claiming gets his or her check, both will benefit eventually.Another benefit of retiring married is if ever a spouse dies, the survivor’s social security benefits will be larger. This will be more than enough for the remaining spouse to live his or her final years comfortably.
- Be a Golden Girl. If you are a 65-year-old single woman who plans to retire but has no assets or savings set aside, you can consider sharing your home with other people like you. If you don’t have a home, you can find others who offer their homes for rent and companionship. Living like a “golden girl” is a very practical option if you have little to no retirement savings. Aside from saving costs, it’s also great for avoiding isolation and provides a sense of security when you have other people in the house. Sharing housing for older women has also become a trend recently. According to AARP estimates, 4 million women aged 50 and up are living in homes with at least two other women near their age group.The only problem would be finding roommates that you can get along with. There are sites that let you find rooms and houses that can be shared such as matureroommates.com and goldengirlsnetwork.com but the problem is, they do not match you up with a suitable roommate based on your preferences. If you have friends in the same situation as you, it’s best if you get them to share your home or group together to rent one. What’s more fun than hanging out with your friends forever, right?
- Trim your lifestyle and spending. If you want to survive retirement with no money, start having a modest lifestyle and quit spending like a billionaire. Make sure that the bulk of your extra earnings go to your savings if you want to survive retirement with no money. Maybe you’re not spending money on your kids anymore or you’ve finished paying up your debts, the money you get from this can be channeled into your nest eggs.You can also slash expenses and save a lot with the usual saving tricks such as cutting your cell phone bills by using a pay-as-you-go cell phone instead of a plan, using free apps such as Skype or Facebook Messenger to communicate, going to the library to borrow books instead of buying, unplugging your unused appliances and other saving techniques.
- Consider Downsizing. Your home, if it has a large value, can become a great asset to boost up your retirement savings. If you downsize and invest the money from it earlier, your money can still have time to grow. If you’re living in a 4 bedroom house, sell it and get a smaller 1-2 bedroom house with the money you got from it. Or you can try the growing trend of tiny house living if you’re desperate.If you have more cars, leave one and sell the rest. Invest the money you gained from selling your properties so you can have more retirement savings at hand when the time comes.
- Retire in a Place with Lower Cost of Living. You can start preparing to live your life outside your very expensive city. Find a place where the cost of living is lower and can accommodate your little savings and social security checks. To survive retirement with no money, you can move in states with low tax burdens such as Wyoming or South Dakota. Mississippi, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee are just some of the states with the lowest cost of living that you can consider moving to.You can also live in foreign countries like the estimated 1.4 million expats and retirees living out of the country. Americans retiring abroad are now becoming a trend because the dollar rates are considerably high and the cost of living are extremely low. In some countries, some retirees say they can even “live like a king” with their $2,000 dollar monthly social security benefit. Some of the countries which are popular with retiring seniors are Thailand, Guam, Spain, Argentina, Guatemala, and the Philippines.
- Think about Reverse Mortgage. A reverse mortgage is when a homeowner borrows money from the bank in exchange for the equity of his or her home. The bank pays you in a lump sum instead of you paying for your house mortgage. Your loan will be paid back once you sell your home or the bank claims the house after you move out or die. If you avail of a reverse mortgage, you can easily convert your house equity into cash to fund your retirement dreams. This is a very suitable option for single retirees or couples without children because if they die, they cannot pass the house down to their heirs.
- Ask Your Kids for Help. With the American’s obsession with self-reliance, turning to your kids for help may be horrifying. But surveys say it’s just you; most adult children don’t feel that way when it comes to their parents seeking their help. According to a study conducted by Fidelity Investments, 9 out of 10 parents consider becoming financially dependent on their children as unacceptable. On the other hand, 7 out of 10 adult children do not think the same. Bringing up the issue of your zero retirement savings to your children may be embarrassing and painful but you need to do it earlier than later. This way, you’ll know whether they can be relied upon or not and they’ll have time to arrange their finances to accommodate your financial needs while at the same time, saving also for their retirement. Besides, when it gets bad, families always help each other out.
- Rely on Public Benefits. Having social security alone can keep you away from the poverty line. But if you can also avail of other public benefits the government is offering for seniors, do so. Once you turn 60, know your benefits and whether you qualify for subsidized housing, medical cost, utility costs and food benefits.National Council on Aging has a website that enables anyone to check around 2,000 state and local programs in their database that may help retirees lessen their expenses. Benefits include medical assistance, income assistance, health care, food and nutrition, housing and utilities, tax relief, veteran benefits, employment, long-term care assistance, legal services, interpreter assistance, and free transportation programs.You can check out if you are eligible to avail these programs at benefitscheckup.org.
- Reevaluate your Debt. Check if your personal loans, credit cards, and medical bills cut your monthly gross income in half. If it does, you have to be informed of debt relief options by an expert or a lawyer in bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy should be considered your last choice. It is a very arduous process which requires you to either make a repayment plan or liquidate all your assets to pay your debts.
Luckily, retirement accounts are safe when it comes to filing bankruptcy. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), most employer-sponsored retirement plans such as 403(b), 401(k), and profit sharing plans are usually exempted from being taken by creditors to cover your debts. So if you are planning to file for bankruptcy, hold off checking out your retirement funds. Consult an expert about it to know more about your options.