Saving enough money to retire comfortably isn't easy, and most workers are falling short of their financial goals. In fact, the average American is expected to outlive their savings by around eight to 10 years, according to a report from the World Economic Forum.
The older you get, the harder it becomes to catch up on your savings. If you're just a few short years away from retirement with little to nothing saved, it will be tough to sock away hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you retire. However, even if your savings are slim, there are a few things you can do to boost your retirement income.
1. Move to a more affordable city
The general cost of living in your area will dramatically affect how far your savings will go, and when you're living on a fixed income in retirement, these costs can take a big bite out of your budget.
Moving to a new city or state is a big decision, but it's also one of the easiest ways to immediately start saving hundreds of dollars or more every month. You could save money on everything from your mortgage or rent to groceries to transportation and more. And if you can move to an area where you'll be able to walk most places, you may even be able to sell your car and pocket thousands of dollars.
Before you start packing your bags, though, it is important to think through your decision and do your homework. Be sure to look at all aspects of living in a new city to gauge how affordable it is. For example, think about how much you'll be paying in taxes -- including income taxes, property taxes, and taxes on Social Security benefits. Also, consider what healthcare looks like in your prospective new city. Smaller towns tend to be more affordable, but you might not have access to the latest and greatest healthcare options. If you have health conditions and visit the doctor regularly, that could be an issue.
If you've decided to move and have a new city in mind, take a test run to make sure you actually enjoy living there. Spend at least a couple of weeks in your prospective new town and try your best to live like a local. Think about whether you feel safe there, whether you could see yourself making friends and blending in with the community, and whether there are enough activities to keep you busy. And, of course, consider how much money you'll be saving. If it makes financial sense to move, you could enjoy a much more comfortable retirement at a fraction of the cost.
2. Delay claiming Social Security benefits
The size of your monthly Social Security checks depends on the age at which you begin claiming them. If you claim at your full retirement age (FRA) -- which is either age 66, 66 and a few months, or 67 -- you'll receive the full benefit amount you're theoretically entitled to. Claim earlier than that, and your benefits will be reduced. But if you delay claiming benefits past your FRA, you'll receive bigger checks each month.
There's not necessarily a right answer as to when is the best age to claim benefits, as it depends on your unique situation. But one instance where it may make sense to delay benefits is if you're struggling to build a healthy retirement fund.
If you have a FRA of 67 and you claim at age 70, you'll receive your full benefit amount plus an additional 24% every month for the rest of your life. That extra cash can be particularly helpful if your personal savings run dry a few years into retirement and you end up depending on your benefits to make ends meet.
3. Pick up a part-time job
This one may sound obvious, but working part-time in retirement can help more than you think. In fact, more older Americans are choosing to go the route of "unretirement," or working on and off throughout their golden years. Rather than stopping work entirely at retirement age, these "unretirees" might take a few years off work, go back to work for a year or two to build up some extra savings, then take another extended vacation.
This way of life can be financially beneficial for those who don't have much in savings, because you can still enjoy the perks of retirement without having to worry as much about whether your money will last the rest of your life.
Working part-time in retirement also doesn't have to be just about the money. It can be an opportunity to explore a new industry you've always been curious about, for example. Or it can be a good way to occupy your abundance of free time, make new friends, and simply get out of the house. Hobbies and other retirement activities can be expensive, but if you can find a part-time job you love, you can have fun and earn a little extra cash at the same time.
If you're falling behind on your savings, that doesn't mean you're doomed to a miserable retirement. While it is important to save as much as you can before you retire, taking advantage of a few ways to increase your income throughout your golden years will help you afford a comfortable and secure retirement.