Activate Retirement Panic Plan

You've been looking a tad piqued ever since tackling the brief but telling financial preparedness worksheet. Feeling antsy about your retirement plans? Oh, you're already retired?

Take a deep cleansing breath. An underdeveloped nest egg isn't the end of your sunny side up retirement. There are three ways to get it cookin' again:

1. Increase your savings
Well, duh. But instead of clipping coupons, think big -- big-ticket items that will make a significant dent in your expenses. Try to get by on less than your pre-retirement spending. Remember, the less income you draw, the lower your tax burden will be. Other savings-boosting strategies to consider:

  • Make your mortgage go away by paying it off before retiring.
  • Look into a reverse mortgage.
  • Move to a small town away from employment centers so the cost of living in general is less.
  • If you are not yet retired, cut your current spending so that you can funnel extra money into your retirement accounts.
  • If you are currently retired, cut on an expense-by-expense basis. Say you spend $200 per month eating out, you need to save $60,000 to fund that $2,400 annual expense indefinitely. Cut that one expense in half and you reduce your requisite nest egg by $30,000. Savings calculators can help you see the light.

2. Increase your returns
No one is advocating day trading, dabbling in risky investments or putting five years of retirement cash on red at the craps table. Instead, consider some more traditional strategies to increase your investment returns:

  • If you are not yet retired, instruct your employer to direct more of your paycheck to your 401(k).

  • Take advantage of the catch-up provisions Uncle Sam allows for those age 50 and older.

  • Read up on other investment vehicles (e.g. annuities, life insurance, reverse mortgages). Such strategies are covered regularly in our Rule Your Retirement service.

  • Change your savings vehicles -- paying close attention to expense ratios, particularly if you own mutual funds.

  • Be that gauche relative and ask about any inheritances or windfalls you can expect from family in the future.

3. Increase your income
We know that you probably retired to get out of the workforce. But if cost-cutting and investment-increasing measures aren't enough, consider the benefits of drawing an income:

  • Postpone your retirement for a few years so you have more of a cushion.
  • If you're already retired, buy some time -- time for your savings to grow and for you to save -- by getting back into the workforce.
  • You don't necessarily have to continue to work in your same profession. And you can also look into part-time or contract-basis work.

It might not be as easy as 1-2-3, but getting your retirement back on track may help revive that youthful glow.

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