Americans are living longer these days. The Social Security Administration estimates that one in four 65-year-olds today will live past age 90, while one in 10 will live past age 95. But rather than celebrate these projected milestones, many near-retirees are, in fact, bemoaning them.
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In a recent Transamerica study, 43% of workers 50 and older stated that their single greatest retirement fear is outliving their savings. And in a similar Allianz study, 60% of baby boomers admitted to being more fearful of running out of money in retirement than actually dying.
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Given that the typical American is far behind on retirement savings, a growing number of seniors will inevitably find themselves searching for ways to generate added cash upon leaving their full-time jobs. With that in mind, here are a few income-producing options to explore.
1. Boost your Social Security benefits
Though your Social Security benefits themselves are based on how much you earned during your working years, the age at which you claim them can impact your eventual payout. If you file for Social Security at your full retirement age -- which for today's workers is 66, 67, or somewhere in between -- you'll get to collect your monthly benefits in full. But if you hold off on taking benefits, you'll get an annual 8% boost for every year you delay, up until age 70.
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Imagine your full retirement age is 66, at which point you'd be eligible for $1,600 a month in benefits. Wait until 70 and you'll increase those payments to $2,112.
Now one thing to keep in mind is that this strategy really only works if you expect to live long enough to collect enough payments to make waiting worthwhile. Remember, though holding off on Social Security will allow you to boost those payments, it also means collecting fewer payments during your lifetime. In our example, at age 82.5, you'd wind up with the same amount of lifetime benefits whether you started collecting $1,600 a month at age 66 or $2,112 at age 70. If you think you'll live beyond your breakeven age, then waiting on Social Security is a great way to get your hands on additional retirement income. But if you have a known health issue or a family history of dying on the younger side, be aware that this strategy may not pay off.
2. Sell your home
Second to healthcare, housing is generally the average retiree's greatest expense. But if you sell your home and downsize to a smaller property, you can lower your costs and take in some additional income at the same time.
It's estimated that 30% of homeowners 65 and older still have a mortgage, but even those who pay off their homes prior to retirement still face a number of costs. First, there are property taxes, which have historically proven to rise over time, even during periods when home values drop. Then there's maintenance to consider. The typical homeowner spends 1% to 4% of his or her home's value on annual upkeep, and if you have an aging property, you're likely to hit the higher end of that range. Downsizing to a smaller space can help keep these costs to a minimum, and if you're among the 70% of seniors who are entering retirement mortgage-free, you'll get to pocket the proceeds from the sale of your home and use them as you see fit.
3. Work part-time
The Pew Research Center reports that more older Americans are working now than ever before. As of May 2016, almost 19% of seniors 65 and older were employed in some capacity, compared to just under 13% back in 2000. If you're looking for a way to boost your retirement income, working part-time is a surefire way to achieve that goal.
But don't just apply for any old desk job or resign yourself to a series of uninspired shifts at your local retail establishment. If you find something you're passionate about and actually enjoy doing, working part-time can be a great way to not only earn money but occupy some of your newfound free time. You might think about starting a business or consulting independently in your former field. And if you really want a job that helps you feel young, consider nannying for a working family in your neighborhood. There are a host of options for working during retirement, so it's really just a matter of finding the right fit for you.
You deserve a retirement devoid of financial stress. If you're willing to wait on Social Security, unload your home, and work part-time, you can increase your retirement income without having to sacrifice the comfortable lifestyle you've been anticipating.
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