The average American retires with a net worth of around $210,000. Using a common rule of thumb known as the 4% rule, that typical retiree can plan to spend around $8,400 (4% of that balance) in the first year of retirement and increase spending with the rate of inflation annually.
Add to that the average Social Security retiree benefit of around $1,369 per month ($16,428 per year), and the typical retiree can look forward to the lifestyle that around $24,828 per year can provide. If you'd like more than that out of your golden years, you'll need to figure out a way to bring in more cash. Keep reading to learn five proven ways that you can get more money in your retirement.
No. 1: Claim Social Security later
Your Social Security benefit depends on your age when you claim benefits. You can claim as young as age 62 or as old as age 70, and the longer within that window you wait, the higher your benefit will be. If your full retirement age is 67, starting at age 62 will lower your benefit by 30% from what your otherwise would have earned by starting at age 67. On the flip side, starting at age 70 will increase your benefit by 24% vs. your age 67 amount.
If you have a retirement job or enough saved up to cover your costs of living for a while after you retire, waiting until age 70 to claim Social Security is a straightforward way to increase your retirement income.
No. 2: Plan on your money covering your costs for a shorter time frame
That 4% rule mentioned above assumes you need your money to last through a 30-year retirement. If you're only expecting to your retirement to last 15 years, you can get away with a withdrawal rate somewhere between 6% and 8% and still have a strong chance of seeing your money last.
Even if you expect to have a long retirement, the reality is that -- aside from health-related costs -- most people's spending tends to drop off the older they get. You can plan around a faster draw down earlier in your retirement combined with a lower cost lifestyle as you reach far into your golden years. That way, you're spending your money while you're still young enough to enjoy it, while still receiving your Social Security benefit to keep you out of abject poverty in your final years.
No. 3: Work a retirement job
Even if you're ready to give up the rat race of full-time employment, you'll still have 24 hours in your day and seven days in your week. If you're willing to work part time, or for a non-profit whose mission you agree with, you can fill some of that time with a way to earn some income to cover a portion of your costs of living.
In addition to the income, working keeps you active, gives you social interaction, and puts structure in your day. Even better from a financial perspective, generally speaking, while you're at work, you're not usually spending money, which can help your cash stretch further.
No. 4: Downsize your living arrangements
The house that was appropriate to raise your family in may not be the best choice to meet your needs in retirement. You may be able to get away with a smaller space in a less expensive school district once your kids have graduated. Additionally, features like single-floor living and/or elevator access might become more important to you to help you age in place.
No matter what your driver, selling your home to move somewhere smaller and cheaper can free up cash that you can invest to provide returns to power your retirement. Not only can you free up the money invested in the house, you can also free up some of the ongoing costs of ownership like utilities, taxes, and maintenance if you choose your new digs smartly.
No. 5: Invest in companies that increase their dividends
The best dividend stocks around include those that have the ability to pay and increase their dividends even when the economy isn't exactly firing on all cylinders. As those companies increase their earnings power over time, they have the ability to keep up that trend of increasing their dividends. That provides their owners with a stream of increasing cash flows without forcing those owners to sell their stakes in the business.
If you're a retiree who owns a portfolio of those kinds of stocks, you can give yourself a strong chance of seeing your income increase in retirement, thanks to the power of those growing dividends.