With fewer and fewer of us able to enjoy traditional pension income, it's more important than ever that we plan for our future financial security and set ourselves up to receive sufficient income when we're no longer working. Here are 10 ways you can boost your retirement income.

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1. Contribute generously to retirement accounts

You can accumulate a lot of money in tax-advantaged retirement accounts such as IRAs and 401(k)s. Traditional (not Roth) IRAs and 401(k)s receive pre-tax contributions. So, if you have taxable income of $75,000 and you contribute $5,000, you get to subtract that from your taxable income and avoid paying taxes on it now (you will ultimately be taxed on it upon withdrawal in retirement, when your tax rate may be lower). If you're in the 25% tax bracket and contribute $10,000 to these accounts, you'll cut your tax bill by $2,500! Roth varieties of these accounts offer no upfront tax break, but if you follow the rules, you can withdraw from them in retirement tax-free. Here's how much you might be able to accumulate over time:

Growing at 8% for

$5,000 Invested Annually

$10,000 Invested Annually

$15,000 Invested Annually

15 years




20 years




25 years



$1.2 million

30 years


$1.2 million

$1.8 million

Calculations by author.

2. Pay off your mortgage before retiring

A good way to have more income in retirement is to have no mortgage payments due every month. It's smart to pay off your mortgage before retiring, if you can. If you're still some years away from retiring, consider making extra payments in order to reduce your balance. It could even make sense to refinance to a 15-year loan if that will help you pay the house off sooner.

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3. Get a reverse mortgage

Another option, though one with some significant drawbacks, is a reverse mortgage. With a reverse mortgage, you essentially borrow money based on your home equity and you don't have to pay it back until you die or stop living in your home. It can deliver a welcome income stream -- and a tax-free one at that, generally -- but it can mean your heirs don't get to inherit your home. Learn more about reverse mortgages if you're interested. You have to qualify for one, you may not get as much income as you'd hoped, and you'll face closing costs, but it's still a good solution for some people.

4. Consider buying an annuity

Buying an annuity is a lot like buying yourself a pension. Stick with fixed annuities (that pay immediately or later), and think twice about variable or indexed annuities -- as those can have steep fees and restrictive terms and limits on growth. For $200,000, a 70-year-old couple might get an immediate fixed annuity that pays around $1,000 per month for as long as at least one of them is alive. A 70-year-old woman who spends $100,000 may get about $577 per month (that's around $6,900 per year), vs. $641 for a 70-year-old man (about $7,700 per year). Women will usually receive less because they tend to live longer than men. A fixed annuity can provide peace of mind, removing stock market moves and the economy's current condition from your worries.

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5. Choose your health insurance strategically

When it comes to your health insurance, spend some time reading up on the topic so you can get the most bang for your buck. Once you're 65, you qualify for Medicare -- and in order to avoid paying a penalty premium every year, you need to not be late signing up. Know that you can choose between original Medicare (Part A and Part B, often with Part D and/or supplemental plans) and Medicare Advantage plans. There are pros and cons to each. For example, original Medicare is accepted across the country by thousands of doctors, whereas Medicare Advantage plans tend to be based in a region, offering access to a certain network of doctors. Medicare Advantage premiums can be lower, plus the plans feature out-of-pocket spending caps.

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6. Invest in stocks and bonds, reap dividends and interest

Investing in stocks and bonds -- and staying invested throughout retirement -- can generate interest and dividend income for you. Remember that even at age 70, you might have another 20 years ahead of you, so it's not crazy to have some of your nest egg in stocks. A $300,000 portfolio of dividend-paying stocks with an average yield of 4% can deliver $12,000 in annual income -- plus the payouts are likely to increase over time as long as the companies remain healthy and growing. Here are some recent yields to give you an idea of what's out there:


Recent Dividend Yield



Verizon Communications


General Motors








Procter & Gamble


General Electric


Johnson & Johnson




Data source: Yahoo! Finance.

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7. Retire a little later

Another good way to increase your income in retirement is to stay at your job for a few more years than you originally planned. That lets you keep adding to your retirement accounts -- and a fatter nest egg can generate more income. It can also keep you on your employer's health insurance plan a bit longer, possibly saving you some money for a few years, and it delays your starting to withdraw funds from your savings to live off of.

8. Keep working -- a little

If you don't want to keep working full time for a few more years, you might start your retirement by only partially withdrawing from the work force. A part-time job, for example, can keep some money flowing in during your early retirement years, boosting your income. It can also be a good way to transition into full retirement, which can be jarring for some people, with the lack of routines and the big drop-off in socializing. Even working 12 hours per week at $10 per hour can generate $120 per week -- $6,240 per year -- in extra retirement income.

9. Think outside the box

There are lots of other ways to boost your retirement income, some of which might not occur to many people. For example, you might rent out a room to a boarder, or just take in occasional guests as an Airbnb host. You might become an online tutor in any subjects you know well, or you might turn a hobby into a profit center, perhaps selling soaps, jewelry, sweaters, or furniture you make. You might move to a smaller, less expensive home, or perhaps even to a less expensive part of the country. If you and your spouse each have a vehicle, consider downsizing to just one, if you can swing it.

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10. Maximize Social Security

Finally, remember that the income many of us are counting on in retirement -- Social Security -- is something you can control, to some degree. The average Social Security retirement benefit was recently $1,350 per month, or about $16,000 per year, with the maximum benefit for those retiring at their full retirement age recently at $2,639 per month -- or about $32,000 annually. You can increase or decrease your benefits by starting to collect Social Security earlier or later than your "full" retirement age, which is 66 or 67 for most of us, and you can make some smart moves by coordinating with your spouse when you each start collecting. (For example, you could start collecting the lower-earner's benefits first while letting the higher-earner's benefits grow larger.)

Putting just a few of the strategies above into use can significantly boost your retirement income.