According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 48% of people over age 55 have no money saved for retirement. That’s a scary high number which makes you wonder how that many people got to 55 without putting any money aside. I’m willing to bet that some of that number is based on some sort of financial catastrophe like a divorce or a major medical situation. Another portion of that stat is going to be folks working hard, raising a family and just not having enough to set any extra aside.
Regardless of how someone got into this position, there are ways to help get yourself back on track.
Don’t pay attention to the so-called experts saying you need $3-$6 million saved for retirement. For years the target number was $1 million but recently, depending on who you are listening to, the number has gotten bigger and bigger. These are intimidating numbers and really unnecessary for the average person.
It’s not about how much money you have saved for retirement it’s about income. Granted, if you have a large amount of savings, investments and retirement accounts, you can turn all of those into income. With real estate, there are income producing properties and there are non-income producing properties.
Now let’s say you have no savings or real estate; how do you create income?
A) Get a side hustle. Do you have a hobby that you can turn into an income stream? Create an online business. For example, let’s say your passion is writing. There are people out there who are writing a couple of e-books a month and over time, they start making a pretty decent income stream. For ideas read this article from Enterpreneur.com: 50 Ideas for a Lucrative Side Hustle.
B) Get a part-time job. You might be working 9-5 during the week and when the weekend comes, you’re exhausted. However, this is the time to play catch-up so if you can pick up some extra work to eliminate your debt or start socking away as much as you can towards retirement this would be a great strategy.
C) Evaluate your skill set and offer it up. There is big money in consulting so do you have skills that can help others? There are websites like Fiverr and Upwork where you can offer your skills and get paid to do freelance work on your own terms.
Adjust your planned lifestyle in retirement. Perhaps your dream is to have an oceanfront condo in Florida but now in order to accomplish that you may have to continue to work until you’re 68 years old. I’ve always said that when it comes to retirement, you may have to either increase your income or decrease your expenses to make your lifestyle happen. Adjusting your lifestyle in retirement is a real possibility when it comes to retiring sooner rather than later on a limited budget. Florida might still be in the cards for you but now it’s a condo three rows from the beach instead of beach front. It’s up to you to determine whether it benefits you to continue to work until you are 68 to get oceanfront or perhaps retire at 65 with a little twist to your plans.
Delaying social security might be a big benefit for you. The longer you delay turning on social security, the bigger the check you receive will be. Continue to work your full-time job or a part-time job to be able to turn your income on at full retirement age verse 62. Delaying it now and letting your social security build may allow you to retire in a few years and not have to continue to work at a part-time job.
Now is the time to become more disciplined at saving and investing money than ever before. You have some catching up to do and now is the time to do a diagnostic on your financial picture. Where can you save in your monthly budget? Do you have any debt and how fast can you eliminate it? Can you downsize your home? Can you increase your income? It’s time to evaluate every aspect of your financial life to see where you can cut expenses and save as aggressively as possible. If you’re mindful and disciplined, you’ll be amazed at how much money you can save in a 3 to 5-year period. It’s time to get serious about your finances. Seek out help if you need. I’m available as I’m an advice-only financial advisor who coaches and counsels people all over the country.
Not having enough money saved for retirement isn’t hopeless although it might feel that way. You can’t afford to be wasteful. Now is the time to get serious, get a plan and put yourself in a position to succeed. Your future self will thank you.
About the author: Eric Gaddy is an advice-only ( fiduciary) financial advisor, with 26 years of experience. He is the author of Retire Early: What Are You Waiting For? and host of the Personal Finance Unfiltered podcast. Learn more or contact Eric at https://dialintoretirement.com/.
Note: this article originally appeared at Retirement Made Simple and is re-published with author’s permission.
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