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No Retirement Savings and Nearly Out of Time? Here's How to Compensate

By Maurie Backman – Updated Apr 19, 2018 at 2:45PM

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Countless older workers are about to end their careers without money in the bank. Here's what to do if you're one of them.

Though we're told to prioritize retirement savings during our working years, it's estimated that nearly half of U.S. households have no money set aside for the future. Now, if you're in that camp but still have a number of working years ahead of you, there's plenty of opportunity to catch up. But what if you're well into your 60s without a dime saved?

It's certainly not an ideal scenario, seeing as how you can't live off of Social Security alone. But here are a few things you can do to make up for your lack of savings.

Senior couple looking at paperwork with concerned expressions.

Image source: Getty images.

1. Work a bit longer

So you've reached your full retirement age for Social Security purposes, and you're gearing up to call it quits. Not so fast. Though you may not have any savings, or a salary that enables you to save, if you continue to work a bit longer, you'll have the option to hold off on filing for Social Security, thus boosting your monthly benefits.

For each year you delay benefits past full retirement age, your monthly payments go up by 8% until you turn 70, at which point the incentive to wait runs out. So let's assume your salary is just enough to pay your bills, but nothing more. If your full retirement age is 67 but you hold off on benefits until 70, you'll wind up collecting 124% of the amount you were initially entitled to. And that's a good way to help compensate for absent savings.

2. Work part-time in retirement

Maybe you no longer have the energy or option to continue working a full-time, 40-hour-a-week job. But if you're able to work part-time as a senior, that income, combined with your Social Security benefits, could be enough to get by on.

Best of all, you don't need to take any old job to pay the bills. Retirement is actually a great time to start a business, so if there's something out there you've always wanted to do, here's your opportunity. In fact, seniors 65 and older are more likely to be self-employed than any other age group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. So whether it's consulting or crafts, find something you enjoy doing, and use it as a means of sustaining yourself.

3. Monetize your home

So you're lacking in savings and aren't looking to work part-time when you're older. If you're a homeowner, you're not totally out of luck, since there are several ways you can turn your property into an income stream.

For one thing, you can try finding a full-time tenant and collecting rental income throughout the year. This will work well if you have a finished basement, garage, or other segregated area of your home. Another option is to rent out your home seasonally, which is doable if you live near popular attractions like the beach or a major theme park or ski resort.

If neither option is feasible -- say, you don't have the space to have other people take up residence in your home -- you can look into a reverse mortgage, which will give you a cash payment each month to help cover the bills. Reverse mortgages, however, come with their share of drawbacks, so don't rush into one without doing your research.

Entering retirement without savings is a scary prospect, and one all workers should take steps to avoid. But if that's the situation you're faced with, don't panic just yet. You do have options for generating more income once your full-time career comes to a close. Exercise them wisely, and you just might salvage your retirement after all.

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