How to Make Retirement Work When You Have Little Saved


We all know the ideal. Work full-time for 45 years, save, contribute to several retirement accounts, and retire with a couple million dollars. Unfortunately, that ideal is not even remotely possible for some people. So, what do you do when you don’t have a big, fat portfolio in your wallet but it is time to retire? Luckily, you still have options!

Use Your Home Equity

For one, you can supplement your income using your home equity with a reverse mortgage. With a reverse mortgage, you get a portion of your home equity back in a lump sum, or in regular monthly payments until you die or sell your home. At this point, the loan must be repaid in full. The hope is that the house sells for enough to cover the lost equity. The amount you can take from your equity depends on a variety of factors, such as if the home is paid off, the worth of the property, how old you are, interest rates, and federal limits. If your house has appreciated in value and you believe it can be sold for the full price of the original loan at the time of your death, a reverse mortgage is a great option.

Maximize All Your Benefits

Don’t let any possible benefits go unused. This includes lost pension plans, social security payments, and, if you have served in the military, veteran benefits. The VA offers benefits to low-income veterans and their spouses. Also, if you have been working and paying your social security taxes, you should be eligible to start receiving payments at age 62. You must apply to the Social Security Administration, either online, by telephone, or by setting an appointment at your local Social Security Office. Finally, you might have a lost pension plan from a past job. If you think you might have pension money but don’t know how to get it, contact the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

Get a Job

You may think your earning days are over, but there are many industries that are happy to employ experienced, more mature people. Some common jobs for retirees include being a driver, working in retail, finding caretaker positions, substitute teaching, tutoring, college teaching, becoming a realtor, consulting, and doing freelance work. Many of these jobs can be done part time and might even offer some additional benefits.

It can be a huge relief to know that you do have options in retirement. Having a large savings isn’t the only way to make it. The most important thing is to believe in yourself. You have gotten yourself this far; you’ve got what it takes to make it all the way!

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