Many adults are facing the dire reality that their savings simply aren’t large enough to retire comfortably. Making the decision to retire and living comfortably isn’t as simple as pulling into Millionaire Estates on the board game Life. For most Americans, it’s a stressful time that few have prepared for adequately.
In the past, one million dollars was enough to retire, but in today’s time that number may not be enough due to higher costs of living and the increased lifespan of today’s adults. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that less than a third of all Americans use an employer-sponsored retirement account. On average, working American couples have less than $5,000 saved for retirement. Many factors contribute to this financial situation, including student loans, the costs of caring for older relatives and high living expenses or debts.
What exactly does this mean? Not planning for your retirement and not saving enough means retirement may not be a reality for you. Millions of Americans put off retirement and work longer because they simply don’t have the means to stop working full-time. Although many individuals rely on Social Security alone to survive, this monthly check averaged just $1,360 a month in 2017. And not enough working Americans have retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k) plans.
There are a range of programs for low-income Americans to retire in their current financial state. We’ll highlight some of the best programs and look at several important steps you can take to make the transition to retirement an enjoyable one and worry-free financially. Let’s take a look.
Ways to Get a Handle On Your Finances
1. Find Out if Your Employer Offers Retirement Plans
Some companies with enviable packages have retirement accounts set up for their employees which is a great starting point for most Americans. If this option is available at your place of work, make sure you are maximizing it as best as you can. If your employer matches your contribution up to 5% of your income, for example, be sure to devote 5% of your income to your retirement account. This will ensure that you are stowing away as much money as you can within that plan.
2. Don’t Touch Your Retirement Account
Once you have a retirement account, whether it’s with your company or one that you opened on your own, leave it alone. Many Americans are tempted or feel forced to withdraw from their retirement accounts when they reach a moment of financial hardship, such as when they are looking for money to pay tuition, facing eviction, or dealing with mounting bills, or opening a business. The truth is, this only lessens the amount of interest you will make and sets you back financially in the long run. Before you turn to your retirement for a current financial hardship, make sure you account for all of your options and leave your retirement money in the bank.
3. Save Independently
If you’re lucky enough to work at a company that places money away for your retirement, that’s great and you should count yourself lucky. However, do not make the mistake of relying on this source of income alone when retirement rolls around. The only thing you can truly count on is your own savings to ensure that you have enough money to live. Start by taking stock of where you’d like to retire. Will you be staying in your same home or looking to move to the mountains? Depending on how close you are to retirement this may not be something you know at this time, but thinking about it will help you craft a skeleton so you can set a target goal to save for the month or year.
4. Rethink Your Budget
Sometimes your current budget and financial situation make saving a nearly impossible task. If this is the case, there’s ways to bring more money back into your pocket. Consider reorganizing your budget, cutting unnecessary expenses like cable, or multiple car payments. If you have credit card bills bogging you down, create a plan to lower this cost so you have more expendable income to save. Budgeting is helpful at any point in your life. If you are a young professional just starting out, being fiscally responsible can help you save more in the long run. If retirement is right around the corner, downsizing, moving to a cheaper state, and cutting back will help you save money and live on less, so the amount you need to maintain your lifestyle isn’t as high. Living costs lower naturally when you retire but living more conservatively can help you contain your costs more.
5. Research Thoroughly
Financial planners are great resources for saving you money and planning for the future. Many Americans may choose to speak with a financial advisor or banker, however it’s best to have a firm handle on your goals and financial situation independently first. Sites like Betterment, Weathfront and RETIRETY help you understand how much you have and actually need for retirement so you can assess the best options for your family. For example, investing in stock isn’t smart when you’re a year away from retirement, but it can be a great option when you have 10 or 20 years ahead of you. So get assistance as soon as you can by researching and learning the ends and outs of your retirement planning and financial awareness.
6. Generate Additional Income with Side Hustles
You can make money additional to your full-time time through freelance work, arts or crafts, blog writing, small businesses and more. This is a great way to save money while you are working and to generate income after you retire by making money with less demanding skills and interests that are enjoyable to you. You can even make money by repurposing household items or selling valuable assets such as antiques, homes, artwork or related materials. Many retirees also find a great source of income and enjoyment through part-time work related to their interest. Retirement Jobs offers a great search tool to help you get started.
7. Low Income Programs
One of the largest costs Americans face is medical care, which gets more costly as you age. Medicare is a social program you pay into during your working years and helps you with prescription coverage if you need medication. Your can get help navigating Medicare here. Medicaid helps you afford additional medical care and helps Americans in certain income brackets if they are “aged, blind or disabled.”
Seniors with low incomes are eligible for Food Stamps if they need financial assistance with groceries. Supplemental Security Income is another program that provides monetary aid to older citizens in addition to Social Security. There are also Housing Vouchers for seniors in public housing or other urban areas.
If you are interested in learning more about how to save for retirement or make adjustment if you found that you’re account is running low, visit the following link: Benefits Checkup
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