A fast-approaching retirement may be one of life's most stressful experiences. You wonder if you've done enough to save. You worry you'll outlive your wealth. You might even decide that retirement simply isn't an option for you.
Fortunately, whether your targeted retirement date is next week or next year, you still have time to strengthen your finances. Small changes late in the game may not add zeros to your savings balance. But they could ease your stress level and improve the longevity of your savings.
Here are four last-minute retirement moves that are well worth the effort.
1. Consider a 401(k) rollover
Some 401(k)s are better than others. If your 401(k) has high administrative fees, subpar investment options, or unworkable withdrawal limitations, you might benefit from rolling those funds into an IRA once you retire. To make this determination, complete these three steps:
- Do some quick research into low-fee IRAs and compare those costs to your 401(k) administrative fees. Even a small percentage difference can siphon away thousands from your savings over the course of your retirement.
- Review the investment options in your 401(k), including the fund expense ratios. Decide if the options are suitable to support your investing needs for the rest of your life. The best practice is to adjust your investments to be more conservative as you age. You need a good mix of low-expense options to make that happen.
- Ask your 401(k) plan administrator about retirement withdrawals. Can you pull money whenever you need to, or do you have to set up a regular withdrawal schedule? Can you request which funds are liquidated for your withdrawals? Make sure the terms are agreeable to you.
2. Downsize to save
Lowering your living expenses benefits your retirement in two ways. One, you free up cash for higher last-minute retirement contributions. And two, you reduce the income you'll need from your savings going forward. That reduction could add months or even years to the lifespan of your savings.
3. Add to your emergency fund
A healthy cash savings balance can also extend the life of your retirement portfolio. When something bad happens, like a car accident or illness, your cash account is your first line of defense.
If you can withdraw the money you need from your emergency fund, you don't have to liquidate from your retirement portfolio. Liquidations reduce your earnings power. You probably can't avoid liquidating in retirement, but a nice cash balance helps you minimize that activity.
Target a cash balance that's at least enough to cover six months of living expenses, plus your major insurance deductibles.
4. Increase your passive income
Passive income is your best financial friend in retirement. Investments that throw off cash can fund your living expenses and reduce your reliance on liquidations. If you can live entirely off your passive income sources, including Social Security, you can keep your savings balance mostly intact -- at least until you start taking RMDs at age 72.
Review your retirement portfolio with an eye for increasing your income-producing assets. Bond funds, reliable dividend-paying stocks, and REITs are options. You might use a mix of all three to suit your income needs and risk tolerance.
Last-minute retirement moves
Winning at retirement takes decades of planning, but it's never too late to improve your position. Even small tweaks could be worth tens of thousands of dollars over time. Reducing your account fees and living expenses are two examples.
You can also extend the longevity of your savings by adding to your cash balance and increasing your holdings of income-producing assets. Because, let's face it, enjoying retirement will be far easier when you're less worried about outliving your savings.