It's Not Too Late! How To Salvage Your Retirement Nest Egg

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If you are between the ages of 55 and 65, then your mind is probably filled with thoughts and plans for retirement. If you’ve recently come to the realization that your retirement nest egg isn’t quite as large as you’d hoped, or your retirement plans fell short of your expectations, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make up at least a little ground.

Unfortunately, we live in a country that believes we must sacrifice the best years of our lives in an office and then dumps us to survive on our own once we reach old age. If we die or become homeless because we couldn’t save enough money due to illness, misfortune, or the greed of others, that’s on us. However, so close to retirement age, there’s not much you can do to change this system and you have to play the game the way it’s been laid out.

This article, therefore, will not address the causes of why your nest egg might be too small or how to fix the system and is intended for those who are planning to retire within the next five or ten years.

Why Are We Talking About This?

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You can still have a happy retirement.

As retirement approaches, the pressure to get your finances mounts, yet the effectiveness of any changes you make will diminish over time. But that doesn’t mean you should do nothing. There is always something you can do to better prepare for retirement, and we found some of the best tips for people in your situation.

#1 Adjust Your Retirement Plan

Mature woman wearing swim goggles at swimming pool. Fit active senior woman enjoying retirement in swimming pool and looking at camera. Happy senior healthy old woman enjoying active lifestyle.
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You can make your nest egg stretch further if you try.

Your retirement plan includes several factors: where you will live, who you will live with, how much Social Security you will be paid when you plan on retiring, and much more. One of the best ways to stretch your retirement savings is to change your living arrangements. Renting a basement apartment from a relative can save you thousands of dollars a month in mortgage payments and utility bills.

If you want to live in your own home, consider moving to a more affordable area.

Consider less traditional living arrangements like having roommates, or even changing your retirement plan every few years. Don’t accept the default retirement plan. Look at each part of your plan (if you actually have one), and decide which parts you can adjust or change to make your savings stretch a bit further. You might not be able to live the retirement dream you always wanted, and that’s just a reality you’re going to have to accept if you want your nest egg to last as long as you end up living.

#2 Eliminate Debt

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A happy couple in retirement.

Unpaid debt is a constant strain on your nest egg. Even though you can afford to service the debt through retirement, paying it off early means you save money in the long term and have more of your retirement funds to spend on other things.

If you have expensive assets or loans that you pay interest on, try your best to pay more than the minimum payment to eliminate that debt faster.

Do you have multiple cars that you don’t need? Maybe it’s time to sell one and share a single car.

Make a list of all the debts you have and have an honest conversation with your partner about which ones you can eliminate entirely, and what steps you can take to eliminate the others faster.

#3 Hire a Financial Expert

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A couple working on their retirement plan.

Sometimes your situation might be too complicated for you to handle yourself. Depending on your personal situation and the number of accounts you have, a financial expert might be the only one who can help you salvage your retirement nest egg.

This service will come at a cost, obviously, but it will pay off if you are able to find solutions to your financial problems that you couldn’t have figured out yourself.

A financial expert will fine-tune a financial plan that is specific to you and your situation. You can’t do that on your own or on basic online financial platforms. A really good financial expert will make recommendations on what to sell, what to buy, and what to do with your money to make sure you have the largest nest egg by the time you retire.

#4 Maximize Your Retirement Contributions

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A couple in retirement.

If you have an employer-sponsored 401(k), you should maximize your personal contributions and your employer match (if they offer it) if you can afford it. Not only will this grow your nest egg the fastest way possible, but it will also save you money on taxes.

Your employer match is also free money (in a certain kind of way) that you are missing out on if you don’t maximize your match.

However, don’t sacrifice your current life, health, and safety in order to save the biggest amount in your 401(k). If you can’t afford your current lifestyle or are already struggling to make ends meet, then you should wait to increase your retirement contributions.

#5 Create a Budget

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You can even retire in Utah.

If you don’t have a budget to save for your retirement, or a budget for what you’re going to spend during retirement, stop reading now and make one.

You’ll never know how close you are to your financial goals, or how far away, or how much work lies before you until you make a budget. Small changes to your budget can make big differences down the line. Subscription fees, forgotten services on auto-renew, and expensive purchases can add up over time. A budget is the only way to keep track of all of them.

There are many online resources to help you create this budget, and if you hired a financial advisor, they would be the best person to create one for you, crafting your budget to best achieve your financial and retirement goals.

#6 Avoid Risky Investments

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Behold a happy retirement.

Typically, managed retirement accounts will invest your money into high-risk assets early in your life and gradually reinvest those funds into lower-risk assets as you approach retirement age. This practice balances the earning potential of high-risk assets with the stability and safety of low-risk but safer assets like bonds.

If your nest egg isn’t as big as you’d like, or you haven’t quite met your retirement goals, you might feel the temptation to start investing in more risky stocks and companies with the hope that you can make up for lost time with some lucky bets. Do not do this. Whatever investments you have right now should slowly be transitioned to safer investment options over time

Remember: nobody beats the market on a consistent basis. If you think you have a guaranteed way to beat the market or outperform everybody else, you probably don’t.

#7 Open an Additional Retirement Account

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Retirement can still be an adventure.

You can maximize your retirement benefits by opening either a Roth IRA or a Traditional IRA.

You can have as many IRA accounts as you want, but typically people only have one in addition to their 401(k), and financial institutions will only allow you to have one of each.

Whether you should open a Roth or Traditional IRA depends a lot on your financial goals and how you think taxes will change compared to current rates. This decision-making should be made with the advice of a financial advisor or with more information than can be covered in this article, but here is a short introduction.

A Roth IRA allows account holders to deposit after-tax money and any withdrawals and any growth are tax-free.

A Traditional IRA allows account holders to deposit pre-tax money, and defer any taxes until retirement where they pay taxes on any withdrawals.

So, if you anticipate qualifying for a lower tax bracket during retirement, it might be best to opt for a Traditional IRA. On the other hand, if you think your taxes might increase down the line, then a Roth IRA will help you avoid those higher taxes.

The limit on how much you can contribute is separate from your 401(k) contribution limit, so you can save even more money for retirement. However, there is a shared limit between Roth and Traditional accounts.

If you don’t have an IRA account yet and have the money you want to set aside for retirement, this can be one of the best decisions you can make, even if you only have a few years left before retirement.

#8 Consider Lifestyle Changes

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A couple enjoying their retirement.

Small lifestyle changes can help you stretch even small nest eggs over longer retirements.

If you are quickly approaching retirement and you are coming to the realization that your nest egg won’t sustain your preferred lifestyle, then it might be time to scale down your lifestyle or forego some comforts and luxuries.

Do you only buy the most expensive foods, and expensive wines, and eat out at restaurants on a regular basis? It’s time to start buying cheaper alternatives and making more food at home.

Do you pay for expensive club memberships or drive expensive cars? It’s time to live a humbler life.

You’ll be surprised by how much you can increase the size of your savings by making more humble and wiser financial choices and not trying to be so fancy.

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