Retirement tends to be a more expensive period of life than many people anticipate. Between essential expenses like housing, food, and transportation and the ever-rising cost of healthcare, many seniors end up needing more income than they initially expect to.
Furthermore, many people make the mistake of saving minimally for retirement and falling back on Social Security, instead. But those benefits generally will not make for a comfortable lifestyle by themselves, which is why it's important to supplement them with income from other sources.
But recent data from Principal indicates that 41% of workers worry they haven't saved enough money to allow for a comfortable retirement. If you're in that boat, here are some essential moves to make now.
1. Boost your IRA or 401(k) contribution rate
Maybe you're currently contributing $4,000 a year to your IRA, or $8,000 to your 401(k). If you feel you're behind on savings, do your best to start ramping up -- even if that means putting an extra $20 a month into your retirement plan for now.
The more extra money you're able to pump into your savings, the better. To that end, look at your budget and pick some expenses you're willing to cut back on.
The sacrifice there won't necessarily be easy. But think about it this way -- would you rather take more modest vacations over the next few years or retire and be stuck staying home all the time because you can't afford entertainment?
2. Invest your savings aggressively
The money in your IRA or 401(k) shouldn't just sit in cash. Rather, it's important that you invest that money so it grows into a larger sum over time -- especially if you're behind on savings.
If you have an IRA, it pays to load up on stocks, as those will generally lend to higher levels of growth than bonds. If you have a 401(k), broad market index funds are a good option to look at (since you generally can't buy individual stocks in a 401(k) plan).
3. Extend your career if you only have a limited catch-up window
If you're in your 30s or 40s and feel you're short on retirement savings, you may still have many decades to play catch-up. But if you're in your late 50s or early 60s, the situation may be a bit tougher. In that case, extending your career by a few years is an option worth looking at.
When you delay retirement even by a year or so, you do a few important things. First, you won't be tapping your nest egg right away. Next, you'll give yourself a chance to keep funding your nest egg. And finally, you'll potentially open the door to delaying your Social Security claim, thereby locking in a higher monthly benefit that could result in a nice overall income boost.
It's important to secure a nice amount of income for your senior years so you don't have to struggle after a lifetime of hard work. If you're concerned about an income shortfall, take these key steps to improve your financial outlook -- and retire with more confidence.