What started out as a health crisis has rapidly become a financial crisis too. Retirees are among the hardest hit because they're living off fixed incomes and many saw the value of their savings plummet amid the market downturn. Now they face some tough decisions about how they will ensure their financial security in this recession.
Rejoining the workforce is one option, but it doesn't appeal to everyone. Those at a higher risk for COVID-19 may not feel comfortable exposing themselves to others who may have the illness, and even retirees who want to work may not be able to find a job with so many businesses shuttered or closed for good.
Fortunately, there are ways to get your retirement plan back on track without going back to work. Here are four options to consider:
1. Reduce your spending
If your retirement plan is marginally off track, you might be able to correct it by eliminating unnecessary purchases. You've probably already done this to some extent during the lockdown, but it's a good habit to keep up. Limit the amount you spend on dining out, entertainment, and travel. Ask yourself before every purchase whether you actually need to buy that item or if you just want it.
You should look for ways to reduce your essential expenses too. Use coupons, credit card rewards, take advantage or wait for sales, and ask about senior discounts. Every bit helps because it'll reduce how much you must withdraw from your retirement savings while lowering your tax bill for the year, giving your remaining savings more time to recover from the recession.
2. Rethink your plans for retirement
Some people plan to travel in retirement or spend more time on their hobbies. While certainly enjoyable, this can also be expensive. If you're concerned about running out of money prematurely and you're unwilling or unable to return to work, altering your retirement plans may help you cut costs further.
Consider shortening or skipping planned vacations and avoid big-ticket purchases unless they're absolutely necessary. Retirement will be less expensive without these costly purchases in your budget, and you can use the money you were planning to spend on trips to cover your basic expenses.
3. Consider a side hustle that doesn't require a lot of work
Most people think of side hustles as part-time jobs, but this isn't always the case. If you have a spare room or property, you can rent it out to others for a source of supplementary income every month. If you live in a city, you might also be able to rent out your vehicle or parking space. Things like dog-walking and house-sitting can also bring in extra cash without feeling like traditional work.
Think about what skills you possess or what jobs you might like to do and how to market yourself. Word of mouth and social media can be a good starting point. Keep in mind that you'll owe taxes on the money you're earning this way, so set aside some of your earnings every month. Use this form if you're unsure how much you should be paying in estimated taxes.
4. See if you qualify for Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provides monthly payments to low-income individuals who are blind, disabled, or older than 65. Not everyone qualifies, and how much you'll receive depends on your wages, taxable retirement withdrawals, Social Security benefits, and where you live. Contact your local Social Security Administration office to learn if you're eligible.
If you are, these monthly payments will help cover your expenses so you can leave the funds in your retirement account longer. Hopefully, this will give them more time to recover from the recession and rise in value before you need to begin withdrawals.
When you're living on a fixed income, every dollar matters. These strategies may not all appeal to you, but try the ones that do to see what difference they can make.