Let's face it: Most Americans haven't done an excellent job of saving for retirement. If your current financial situation in retirement isn't shaping up to be as great as you'd like it to be, there are several ways to boost your retirement income. Here are three ways that you could potentially add a steady flow of cash into your pocket after you retire.
Maximize your Social Security benefits
Although it's not the best move for everyone, one surefire way to boost your retirement income is to delay Social Security. By choosing to wait until age 70 as opposed to 66, you can permanently increase your retirement benefit by 32%. And you'll have four extra years of earned income to factor into the Social Security formula. However, there are some less-obvious ways to maximize your Social Security.
One common example is with spousal benefits. If your spouse's benefit is less than half of your full retirement benefit, a Social Security spousal benefit can make up the difference.
Just like normal retirement benefits, spousal benefits can be reduced if they are claimed before your spouse's full retirement age. However, there is no such thing as delayed retirement credits for spouses. In other words, spousal benefits don't get any bigger if you wait. Since one of the eligibility criteria for spousal benefits says that the primary beneficiary must be collecting their own benefit, it generally doesn't pay to delay Social Security past your spouse's full retirement age, if they're eligible for a benefit.
You can read a more thorough description of this and other Social Security strategies here.
Work part time
Perhaps the most obvious way to boost your retirement income is to work after you retire, on a part-time basis.
There are tons of options available, and just to name a few:
- Seasonal work: Retail stores have a great need for help around the holidays. And, if you prefer not to work in a store, companies like Amazon.com are hiring thousands of seasonal employees to help with their increased business.
- Teach/tutor: Teaching or tutoring part-time (or even full-time) can be a rewarding second career for retirees.
- Drive: Companies like Uber and Lyft have created new options for part-time work. Not only will you get paid for driving your own car around, but this can be a great way to interact with people on a daily basis.
Studies have shown that maintaining part-time employment after retiring can be great for your health and overall well-being, so if you could use the extra money, this could be an option worth considering.
Get a reverse mortgage
A reverse mortgage can be a valuable tool for retirees over the age of 62 who own their homes.
Essentially, a reverse mortgage involves a lender making payments to you in exchange for equity in your home -- the exact opposite of how a traditional mortgage works. Payments can be made as a lump sum, a series of monthly payments, as a line of credit, or some combination of the three.
The advantages of a reverse mortgage are that you can get additional retirement income without having to make any loan payments, and relatively easy qualification since the "loan" is backed by your home equity.
There are some downsides to reverse mortgages to be aware of. For one thing, they can be expensive. According to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, a $100,000 reverse mortgage can come with more than $8,000 in various closing costs. In addition, your home equity can erode rather quickly over time as interest builds up. For example, a $100,000 lump sum reverse mortgage at 5% interest can result in a $432,000 balance after 30 years. You can check out an excellent reverse mortgage calculator here to see how much you might be able to borrow, and how much it might cost you.
Fortunately, a reverse mortgage doesn't need to be paid back until you die or sell your home. And a reverse mortgage is a non-recourse loan, meaning that the lender can only collect as much as your house sells for – they can't go after your other assets to settle the debt.
Just a starting point
These are a few of the most widely applicable ways to boost your retirement income, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. This is especially true if you're not quite at retirement age yet. The point is that with some smart planning, you might be surprised at how much additional retirement income you can create.