1. Find another job.
You did it! You retired! You would like nothing more than to relax, plan a trip, take a nap. The beginning of retirement means the beginning of living off what you have accumulated, right?
Not so fast. We are living longer, living healthier and living in a retirement culture that puts us out to pasture while we likely have another 25 to 30 good years ahead of us. Basically your retirement saving account is going to have to stretch a good long while. And it may not.
Your best chance to earn more money in retirement is immediately after you leave the workforce. Your skills are still current; your network and contacts still up-to-date. Your best prospects for earning a little extra cash is now, not later.
Just don’t expect smashing results. Almost 75 percent of Americans over 50 say they expect to work during retirement — but only 27 percent actually do, says the EBRI.
2. Embrace your new lifestyle, which will be substantially downsized in every aspect.
Don’t beat yourself up about how you didn’t save enough or shouldn’t have remodeled the kitchen.
Maybe the recession threw you off your financial course, maybe you woke up late to the idea of saving. In any case, fishing coins out of the sofa cushions may be your best option to accumulate anything more, so accept it and move on.
If you haven’t already, downsize today. Not just your housing expenses — although those are your biggest bills — but rethink your lifestyle. Restaurant meals? Replace them with pot lucks. Vacations? Stay with friends or relatives. Two cars? Give up one and try Uber for when you need two.
You have what you have and that’s all you have. Your only choice at this point is to whine about it or accept it. You did your best, now make your best lemonade. Be happy that you’re here to see another sunrise.
3. Don’t take Social Security if you can help it.
Waiting to claim Social Security will earn you a larger benefit check up until age 70. You can claim benefits at 62, but in most cases, you shouldn’t. For some reason, even retirees who have plenty of other assets think they should grab Social Security as soon as they can. A National Bureau of Economic Research study of people with IRA assets found that 34 percent of early claimers had enough savings to wait two years and 26 percent could have held out for four years. If they had waited just two years, their checks for life would have been 15.6 percent larger. Claiming at 70 instead of 66 will result in a 32 percent jump. Rule of thumb: When it comes to Social Security, all good things come to those who wait.
4. Force yourself to understand Social Security and Medicare.
Arguably, this is something that you should have done before leaving your job. In any case, don’t waste another minute because what you don’t know can and will hurt you.
Both Social Security and Medicare are convoluted, full of loopholes and will make you believe that nothing could be this intentionally complicated unless subterfuge was involved. Dive in anyway. Sometimes the best way to figure out which Social Security claiming strategy will yield you the most money is to ask someone — someone who doesn’t work there. Financial planners can be your best friend. At least a good one can.
5. Keep in touch and keep active.
Boredom and loneliness are the Black Plague of retirement. Get involved, volunteer, keep busy. The fastest way to fill up your calendar page with medical appointments is to not have anything else on it. Social media can help you stay connected, so don’t be afraid to use it.
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