There's a reason workers are advised to save money for their golden years: Social Security will only replace about 40% of the typical earner's pre-retirement income, and most seniors need about twice that amount to live comfortably.
But what if saving for retirement just isn't in the cards? What if your near-term expenses eat up all of your income, and despite your best efforts, you're just not able to build up a decent nest egg by the time your career comes to a close?
Though entering retirement with little savings (or, worse yet, no savings at all), is clearly far from ideal, if that's the scenario you're facing, don't give up. A few key moves could help make up for your lack of savings and put you in a better position to salvage your golden years rather than struggle through them.
1. Delay your Social Security benefits
We just learned that Social Security generally won't provide enough income to allow for an enjoyable retirement lifestyle. But if you're able to snag higher benefits, it could make for a very different outcome.
You're entitled to collect your full monthly benefit based on your earnings history at full retirement age, which, depending on your year of birth, is either 66, 67, or 66 and a certain number of months. But if you delay your filing past full retirement age, you'll boost your benefits by 8% a year in the process, up until that incentive runs out at age 70.
Now, let's imagine you're about to reach your full retirement age of 66 and are gearing up to claim a $1,500 monthly benefit. If you continue working so you're able to hold off on filing until 70, you'll increase that benefit to $1,980. That's an extra $5,760 per year you'll have available to pay your bills in retirement, which suddenly makes your situation much less bleak.
2. Get a part-time job during retirement
If you worked hard all your life, the idea of continuing to do so in retirement may not hold much appeal. But if you're sitting on very little in the way of savings, you may have to get on board with the idea of earning an income in some capacity once your full-time career comes to a close.
Here's the good news, though -- working in retirement today isn't what it was 10 years ago. Back then, you were largely limited to operating a cash register, answering calls, or doing some type of work that required you to show up to a specific location at a preset time. Nowadays, the gig economy is in full swing and open to seniors, which means you can secure a part-time income during retirement by driving your car for a rideshare service, tutoring, teaching an instrument, caring for pets, or monetizing a hobby, whether it's gardening, cooking, or crafting.
3. Sell a paid-off home
Many seniors manage to enter their golden years mortgage-free. That's a goal worth being proud of, and if you've managed to achieve it (or are on track to do so), then your home could serve as a very important income source once your time in the workforce ends.
Imagine you're sitting on a $360,000 home that's yours outright. If you're able to find a cheap condo or townhome for one-third of that amount, you'll have $240,000 at your disposal to serve as your instant nest egg. From there, you can invest that cash and treat that money like an IRA or 401(k), minus the tax savings. Specifically, you can withdraw the funds you need to cover immediate bills, all the while investing the remainder for added growth.
Kicking off retirement without savings isn't ideal. But sometimes, circumstances turn that unwanted scenario into reality. If that's the situation you're in, don't panic over your absent nest egg. Rather, take steps to compensate for it. The right approach and attitude could really change your financial picture for the better.