Longer lives, fewer pensions and limited savings are a combination that has plenty of people worried when they look ahead to their retirement years.
With nearly 60 percent of Americans saying that running out of money is their No. 1 concern, many of them are scrambling to figure out how they can make their money last the duration of a retirement that could drag on for 20 to 30 years or more.
“Of course, one way is that you can take a part-time job after your retire, or you could just vow to spend less,” says John Hagensen, founder and managing director of Keystone Wealth Partners (www.Keystonewealthpartners.com) and author of Unleash Your Investments.
“But those aren’t options a lot of people find very attractive.”
In truth, there are no easy solutions, but Hagensen says there are steps you can take that can help boost your retirement bottom line.
A few of those include:
- Treat your nest egg with generosity. As you save for retirement, contribute generously to your retirement accounts. If you max out your contributions to your accounts, instead of just contributing the minimum, you’ll have significantly more stashed away when you reach retirement. That translates into more income.
- Retire later than planned. “Obviously, if you can’t stand your job, this is not ideal,” Hagensen says. “But putting off retirement for a few more years is not a bad option if you enjoy your work. That gives you additional time to save more and fewer years in retirement in which you’ll need to draw off your savings.”
- Maximize your Social Security benefits. When and how you decide to start drawing Social Security can make a significant difference in your benefits. “Various factors can come into play when making Social Security decisions, such as how your income taxes might be affected,” Hagensen says. “It’s also worth noting that for every year you delay taking Social Security benefits, your yearly income increases by about 7 percent. If you delay past your full benefits age, which is 66 or 67 for most people, then your benefits actually grow by 8 percent a year, up until you reach age 70.”
- Consider adding a fixed annuity in your retirement. “The key word here is ‘consider,’ “Hagensen says. Annuities are not right for everyone, and one of the reasons they often get a bad rap is that they are sold to people without any strategic plan or without any consideration about whether they are right for an individual’s situation. “Sometimes I see people who have 60 or 70 or 80 percent of their retirement portfolio in an annuity,” he says. “Annuities should be used as just a small percentage within your portfolio to create stability and a foundation.”
Hagensen cautions that all the financial planning in the world doesn’t mean a lot if people don’t stick to the plan.
“And unfortunately, the data show us that they rarely do,” he says. “Emotions kick in and they make decisions based on those emotions. But if you can be disciplined and follow through on what you know are the better decisions, then you have a great chance of increasing the amount of money you will have in retirement.”