It's one thing to wake up midcareer and realize you've been neglecting your retirement thus far. At that point, you still can make lifestyle changes (think cutting back on bills) and start ramping up savings. But what if you're already in your mid- to late-60s, and retirement is right around the corner? At that point, your chances of going from having no savings to amassing a nest egg worth hundreds of thousands of dollars are pretty slim.
But don't despair. Approaching retirement without savings is far from ideal, but here are a few things you can do to avoid being totally cash-strapped as a senior.
1. Delay Social Security until age 70
Your Social Security benefits are calculated based on your 35 highest-paid years of wages, and once you reach full retirement age, you're entitled to those benefits in full. Full retirement age is either 66, 67, or somewhere in between, depending on the year you were born. You are, however, allowed to delay benefits past full retirement age, and for each year you do, you'll increase them by 8%, up until age 70. That, in turn, could help compensate for a lack of retirement savings.
Imagine that you're entitled to $1,400 a month from Social Security at age 67. Waiting until 70 means boosting that figure to $1,736 a month -- for life.
To delay your benefits to 70, you'll probably need to keep working until that point. But as a bonus, doing so could allow you to put some money into an IRA or 401(k). And retiring with $5,000 to $10,000 in savings is better than retiring with no money at all.
2. Get a job
Many people assume that once they leave their careers behind, the option to work ceases to exist. But there are plenty of opportunities to earn money in retirement, whether by monetizing a hobby, starting a business, or getting a part-time job.
The benefits of working once retired are twofold. There's the obvious: You'll earn money to help make your senior living costs more manageable, especially if you have no savings. And just as important, working will give you a no-cost activity to fill your days. If you're retiring with a glaring lack of savings, that's an important part of staying active and avoiding unhealthy levels of boredom.
3. Sell your home
You may not have any money in an IRA or 401(k) as retirement nears. But if you've paid off the mortgage on your home, and that home is worth, say, $400,000, selling it could leave you with a substantial amount of money for your later years. You'll still need a place to live, so the proceeds from that sale may not be all yours to keep. You might, for example, have to spend half that $400,000 on a condo or townhouse. But you can invest the remaining $200,000 and use it as a retirement income stream.
In an ideal world, you'd be nearing retirement with a robust nest egg. But if that's not the case, you can try to boost or create other income sources to avoid financial struggles as a senior.