Ideally, you should retire with access to income outside of Social Security. That's because those benefits will only replace a small percentage of your wages, and you may need extra money to cover your living costs, from housing to food to healthcare.

Plus, you might just plain want more money so you can enjoy retirement rather than spend the bulk of it sitting at home because you can't afford to travel or pursue hobbies. So either way, coming in with a solid nest egg is a great idea.

But even if you manage to save nicely for retirement, you might still appreciate collecting as much money from Social Security as you can. One mistake, however, could cause you to lose out on a large chunk of your benefits.

A person sitting on a couch holding their face.

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This move could slash your benefits by 30%

The monthly Social Security benefit you're eligible to collect in retirement will depend on your personal wage history. And you'll be entitled to that benefit in full once your full retirement age (FRA) arrives.

FRA hinges on your year of birth. If you were born in 1960 or later, however, your FRA is 67.

You can claim Social Security as early as age 62. And doing so has an obvious upside -- getting your money sooner.

But if you file for Social Security at age 62 when your FRA doesn't arrive until 67, you'll slash your monthly benefit by 30% -- for life. And that could prove problematic once you realize how expensive retirement actually is.

See, many people assume that their living costs will drop dramatically once they retire. But yours may not drop all that much.

Sure, you won't have a retirement savings plan to fund. And you won't be paying to commute to a job you no longer have. You might even manage to shed your mortgage payments in time for retirement, leaving you with just property taxes, insurance, and upkeep to fund.

But as you get older, your healthcare costs have the potential to skyrocket, especially given the number of common services Medicare doesn't cover, like dental care and eye exams. And also, staying busy can cost money. And when you no longer have a job to report to, staying busy is key, because boredom, aside from being, well, boring, can be harmful to your mental health.

That's why slashing your Social Security benefits by filing for them as early as possible may not be your best bet. If you're thinking of signing up for benefits at age 62, recognize how much of a hit you'll be taking to your benefits, and make sure you can afford it without compromising the lifestyle you want.

Even if waiting until FRA to claim Social Security doesn't seem viable for you, that doesn't mean you have to sign up for benefits at the earliest age you can. Waiting until age 64 or 65 could still give you access to your money sooner while helping you avoid a more significant hit.