When you're retired, making ends meet can be tough, and it's useful to have as much income as possible at your disposal. Finding new sources of income takes some effort, but making the most of the opportunities you have can go a long way toward helping you cover your living expenses and still have something left over. Below, we go through three ways that you can boost your retirement income and feel more financially secure in your golden years.
A tried-and-true method of generating income in retirement is investing in dividend-paying stocks. Healthy companies will keep paying dividends no matter how the country's economy is doing. And investing a large portion of your nest egg in dividend payers doesn't have to mean sacrificing capital gains, either -- dividend payers are solid performers.
According to Ned Davis Research, from 1972 through 2014, dividend-paying stocks averaged an annual gain of 9.3%, versus just 2.6% for non-dividend payers. Want more? Fidelity data shows that from 1993 through 2014, dividends accounted for about 40% of the 10.3% average annual return of the S&P 500.
So what can you expect, income-wise, from dividends? Well, there are certainly some tempting dividend yields of 8% or 12% out there, but in general, super-high yields can be risky, as they're often tied to stocks that have plunged. There are gobs of healthy, growing companies yielding 3% or more, and plenty yielding 4%-plus. If you can put $200,000 into such stocks in retirement, then you could collect $8,000 or more annually in dividend income -- without selling any shares. Ideally, those shares would also rise in value over time, and the dividend payouts would likely to increase as well.
If you're eager to gobble up some dividends now, companies like Chevron, AT&T, and Ford are worth a closer look. Each has a rating of at least four stars (out of five) in our CAPS community, and each yields at least 4%.
The most obvious way to boost income in retirement is to work at least part-time. However, working part-time can also increase your retirement income in less obvious ways.
Retirees who claim Social Security prior to their full retirement age will have $1 withheld from their Social Security check for every $2 that they earn above an annual income limit. In 2016, that limit is $15,720. However, any money that's withheld increases the Social Security income a retiree receives once they reach their full retirement age. Essentially, this means that some of your Social Security income is being deferred for later on, when you may be physically unable to continue working part-time.
Also, working part-time can boost your retirement income if those earnings are invested in a Roth IRA. In 2016, retirees can contribute up to $6,500 (if over age 50) of their after-tax earned income to a Roth IRA, which allows your savings to grow tax-free.
If you want to get more income in retirement, making the most of Social Security is essential. Social Security is a key source of retirement income for the vast majority of Americans, and there are several ways you can squeeze bigger benefits out of the program.
There are two things you can do that will have the biggest impact on your benefits. First, when determining the amount of your monthly benefit check, Social Security looks at your 35 top-earning years after adjusting for inflation. So if you haven't worked for at least 35 years total, then staying in your job a little longer will boost your monthly benefits.
The other important choice is claiming benefits at the best possible time. Your baseline benefits are what you'll get by retiring at full retirement age, which is 66 for those retiring now. Many people claim early, accepting monthly payments that are 25% smaller than the baseline amount in exchange for getting them sooner. If you wait until age 70, you can get payments that will be 32% larger than at full retirement age. Overall, that's a wide swing of between $0.75 and $1.32 on the dollar. Yet obviously, the earlier you claim, the more of those small checks you get, and so the timing of when you need the money comes into play as well. By being smart about these two decisions, you can enhance your retirement income permanently.