Nearly half of workers say they're worried they won't have enough savings to live comfortably in retirement, according to a Gallup poll.
Running out of money is a serious concern for many retirees, especially considering that many workers don't have access to a pension and Social Security benefits alone generally aren't enough to pay the bills. However, if your savings are lacking, there are a few unexpected sources of retirement income that can pad your bank account.
1. Investing in dividend stocks
Dividend stocks are investments that pay out a portion of their earnings each month or quarter to their shareholders. These are typically large, well-established companies that have long, profitable track records, and they can afford to give back some of those profits regularly.
Exactly how much you can collect in dividend payments depends on the companies you invest in as well as how those businesses are performing. Not all companies pay dividends, and those that do don't always pay them out consistently. For the most reliable dividend payments, consider focusing on the Dividend Aristocrats, which are companies that have increased their dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years.
Of course, be sure you're still diversifying your portfolio properly in retirement. Throwing all your savings into just one or two stocks can be incredibly risky, so if you choose to invest in dividend stocks, make sure that the rest of your money is divided across a variety of other investments as well.
2. Paying off debt
Debt can be incredibly expensive, and paying it off can free up extra cash in your budget. This is particularly true if you're loaded down with high-interest debt (such as credit card debt) because this type of debt can sometimes charge interest rates of 20% per year or more.
As you're paying off debt, start by tackling the debt with the highest interest rate first. Even if this type of debt doesn't have the highest balance, the high interest rate can result in racking up loads of interest charges. Once your highest-interest debt is paid off, continue working your way down the list until you're debt-free.
3. Downsizing to a smaller home
If you're an empty-nester in retirement, you may find that you have more house than you actually need. Downsizing to a smaller home can not only make upkeep more manageable, but it can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per month on your mortgage payment as well.
In addition, a smaller home can save you money on everything from utilities to homeowners insurance to general maintenance. All of these savings add up, and over time, you could potentially save thousands simply by downsizing.
4. Relocating to a more affordable area
Similarly, moving to a city or neighborhood that's more affordable can also help you save more money. Depending on where you move, you may not even need to downsize your home in order to reduce your mortgage payment.
Before you start packing your bags, though, be sure you've considered all the costs you'll face in your prospective new home. For example, if the general cost of living is significantly lower in your new city but income and property taxes are sky high, you might not save as much as you think.
It's also important to think beyond just dollars and cents to ensure you'll be happy in your new home. Moving to a smaller town might be more affordable, for instance, but if you know you'll miss the hustle and bustle of a big city, the savings may not be worth it.
Retirement can be incredibly expensive. But even if you're falling behind on your savings, you can still find ways to enjoy your senior years comfortably by finding creative new sources of income.