If you’re getting close to retirement age and you have minimal to no savings in a 401k or IRA, what should you do? Having few assets is one of the biggest retirement killers out there because Social Security payments aren’t enough for many Americans to live on – especially with average life expectancies rising each year – but if you’re in your 50s or early 60s and want to retire at some point, what can you possibly do?
While it could be anxiety-inducing to come upon your retirement years with little savings to finally quit your job, remember that you’re not alone. Millions of Americans struggle with saving for retirement, so this isn’t something to be ashamed of. Instead, redirect your nervous energy into productive planning for retirement to make up for lost time.
What to Do When You Have No Retirement Savings
Here are some ideas for ensuring your golden years are truly golden, even if you don’t have much savings to live off of by the time you reach retirement age:
Start Investing in a Retirement Account
It’s never too late to start saving for retirement, so even if you’re 60-67 years old, you can still invest in a 401K and/or traditional or Roth IRA. To accomplish this, obviously you’ll have to continue working – whether your current job suffices or you downsize to a part-time gig – but the benefit of investing in a retirement account even when you’re of retirement age is that your money will grow much more quickly thanks to interest.
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Another benefit is that anyone over 50 years of age can contribute an extra $6,000 per year to their retirement accounts (e.g., 401k, 403b, or Thrift Savings Plan), which means you can max it out with $24,000 per year (compared to the $18,000 maximum for workers under 50 years old). You can also contribute $6,500 per year to an IRA if you’re over 50 (under 50 = $5,500 maximum annually).
Downsize Your Home
Whether you own your current residence, are still making mortgage payments, or you’re renting a multi-bedroom condo or apartment, one way to trim your big expenses and make your retirement income go further is by downsizing your home. For some folks, this involves selling the family home – do you really need 3-4 bedrooms with the kids moved out? – and possibly relocating to an area with a lower cost-of-living.
For others, this might involve searching for more affordable housing and rent out your bigger home to earn a stable monthly income as a landlord (or simply avoid letting mortgage payments eat into your retirement savings). While it may seem stressful and expensive to move to a new home, you could save quite a bit of money in the long run by downsizing your lifestyle.
Renting out a room or your entire home (when you go on vacation) could be a great alternative to selling your home. Airbnb is a great platform for finding people who want to rent a room from you because you can decide whether or not to accept requests, how much to charge per night (or week or month), and decide how much you want to charge for a cleaning fee. You can choose to rent out a room or two (this is perfect for anyone with an extra bedroom that’s already furnished for guests) and interact with guests as much or as little as you want.
There are millions of people who have either traveled using Airbnb accommodations or made money by renting out their rooms and homes through Airbnb, so rest assured, it is a well-known and secure platform to easily make money with by offering travelers a comfy place to stay. Some people have even become full-time landlords with Airbnb, so it’s certainly possible to make decent money this way!
Get a Part-Time Job
If you prefer maintaining your privacy, then instead of renting out a room you could downsize your current job. Anyone who loves their current job but has no retirement savings should continue working for as long as possible – your Social Security payments will be much higher if you hold off until age 70 or so – but if you want more free time without sacrificing a regular income entirely, a part-time job would be an excellent option.
This is particularly advantageous for seniors because you qualify for Medicare as of age 65, so full-time job benefits of health insurance and a 401k may not outweigh your desire for fewer working hours if you already have Medicare and regularly contribute to an IRA.
You don’t need to get a part-time job if you would prefer working from home, of course. You could choose to work as an independent contractor doing something you already enjoy as a hobby – arts and crafts, transcribing data, writing and editing, designing graphics, driving people around with Lyft or Uber, etc. – so don’t resign yourself to an average part-time job to build a retirement savings after age 50 when there are so many awesome options available to you.
Retirement: You’ll Get There!
Whether you’re approaching retirement age and still making mortgage payments with no retirement savings or you’re already of retirement age and Social Security isn’t paying you enough to survive, there are many ways to overcome these hurdles without sacrificing your quality of life during retirement. By downsizing your home and finding creative new ways to supplement your income, you’ll still be able to enjoy your retirement years even if you didn’t have enough money to quit working altogether when you first hit your 60s.
What do you think? What should you do if you have no retirement savings by the time you reach your 50s or even 60s?