Without retirement savings, there's a good chance you'll struggle to keep up with your basic living expenses once your career comes to a close. And if you're thinking of living on Social Security alone, think again -- those benefits will only replace about 40% of your pre-retirement income if you're an average earner, and most seniors need about double that sum to live comfortably.
But new data from GoBankingRates shows that over 12% of Americans 65 and over have less than $1,000 socked away in an IRA or 401(k). The same holds true for over 8% of workers between the ages of 60 and 64.
If you're in your 60s without much of a nest egg, your opportunities to catch up are pretty limited. But that doesn't mean you need to resign yourself to a cash-strapped retirement. Instead, you can make the following moves to improve your financial picture.
1. Cut back on spending in a very big way
Depending on how far along in your 60s you are, you may have another five years or so left in the workforce. And if you're willing to slash your spending during that time to bank as much money as possible, you'll have more financial flexibility once you retire. For example, socking away $1,000 a month during that time frame, and investing it an average annual 4% return, which is somewhat conservative, will leave you with $65,000 in retirement savings. Compared to $0, that's looking up.
Of course, you will need to consider some pretty extreme choices to free up that amount of money, especially if you're used to saving nothing. That could mean spending far less on entertainment, giving up travel, or even downsizing your home if moving is feasible. But the more of an effort you make, the more savings you stand to accumulate.
2. Make plans to work longer
If you're without savings in your 60s, you may need to get on board with the idea of working longer than expected. And doing so can help you in a couple of regards.
First, spending an extra few years in the workforce will make it possible for you to save even more. In the above example, saving $1,000 a month for five years at an average annual 4% return resulted in $65,000 in savings. But if you do the same for seven years instead of five, you'll end up with $95,000. Make it eight years, and you're looking at just over $110,000.
Working longer might also serve another important purpose -- allowing you to hold off on claiming Social Security. You're entitled to your full monthly Social Security benefit once you reach full retirement age, which, depending on your year of birth, is 66, 67, or somewhere in between. But for each year you delay benefits past full retirement age, up until age 70, they'll increase by 8%, and that boost will remain in effect for the rest of your life. And while you shouldn't plan to live on Social Security alone, you should try to increase your monthly benefits if you expect them to be your primary source of retirement income.
Now you may be willing to extend your time in the workforce, but don't get complacent on the job, because the last thing you want is to be forced out of employment before you're ready. Instead, keep your skills current, and continue to network so that if your job is compromised, you have options for finding work again quickly.
3. Get a second job
When you're in your 60s and hold down a full-time job, doing work on the side might seem impossible (or at least undesirable). But here's the reality: If you're without a nest egg, you may have no choice but to obtain part-time work once you retire, and if you establish a side gig prior to leaving your main career behind, it could make that transition much easier. Furthermore, if you hold down a second gig while also working full-time, you'll have the opportunity to save all of your earnings from it in your IRA or 401(k).
There's no getting around it: Reaching your 60s with no retirement savings is a pretty bad situation to be in. But rather than assume all is lost, concentrate on the above moves instead. You may find that individually or collectively, they save you from a cash-strapped existence during your golden years.