Millions of Americans are worried about running out of money in retirement. Are you one of them? According to a recent survey, 23% of Americans say that outliving their nest egg is their biggest retirement concern.1 This stress is certainly understandable, particularly given recent changes in Social Security rules and rising healthcare costs.
There are, however, strategies you can use to help make your money last during retirement and enjoy the golden years you’ve been dreaming of.
Thinking of your retirement as having three phases is a tactic that can be useful when it comes to planning how to spend your funds.
For many, the first period of retirement can be considered the freedom phase. During this time, the newly retired spend their days traveling, rekindling old hobbies, engaging in new activities and generally enjoying the parts of life they didn’t have time for when they were working. The second phase of retirement is known as the waiting-room phase. This time is marked by more visits to the doctor, growing healthcare expenses and the start of an overall lifestyle slowdown. The third period of retirement is typically thought of as the spiritual phase. These years are a time of winding down, spending most days at home, visiting with loved ones and enjoying memories.
Just as you spend a different amount of money at age 25 versus age 45, you’ll spend a different amount of money in your freedom phase than you will in your waiting-room phase or your spiritual phase.
As you plan for retirement, be sure to budget your funds accordingly — you won’t want to spend all of your savings during your freedom phase and forget about the healthcare costs that will arise during the waiting-room phase or the expenses you’ll incur during the spiritual phase.
Optimizing Social Security and other sources of income, such as a pension, is another key strategy that will help you maximize your money during retirement.
There’s no magic formula for this — for some, collecting Social Security as soon as they’re eligible is the best option and for others, delaying Social Security withdrawals makes more sense. Since this aspect of retirement budgeting is so situation-specific, talking with an advisor can go a long way in helping you decide what the best course of action may be.
Continuing to pay attention to the details of your retirement funds is also critical when it comes to making your money last.
Be mindful of the Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) deadline of Dec. 31 each year.
If you’re 70½ or older and don’t take your RMD from all of your IRAs and old 401(k)s, you’ll have to pay a 50% penalty on what should have been withdrawn. If you turned 70½ in 2015, you have until April 1, 2016 to take your first RMD — but you do that, you’ll also need to take your second RMD by Dec. 31, 2016, which could increase your taxable income for the year. In addition to staying on top of the RMD deadlines, remain invested as a retiree — you’ll need the extra growth potential that continuing to invest in a mix of stocks and bonds will provide you. Once again, there’s no single formula that works for everyone when it comes to this, so an advisor can be very helpful when it comes to determining what approach is right for you.
Your retirement years can be some of the best of your life, so be sure you’re managing your money to make the most of them.