Reading up and learning more about retirement strategies for late starters turns up one interesting discovery—all who discuss this topic comment that it’s never too late to make a plan. Perhaps that is true, but with skyrocketing costs in almost every corner of the economy, that is little consolation when you’re past the age of 50. However, we’ll try to make some sense of it all; maybe there is some information that will be of use to people nearing retirement age—or already there.
According to Reuters Money, of course, “It’s never too late.” Americans are finding themselves in a bind now, having to find ways to pay down debt and still enjoy a modest lifestyle. There’s very little room left for savings these days, even when retirement age is looming large on the horizon. The recession has had a huge impact on consumer confidence. Those who thought their portfolios would appreciate and the value of their homes would increase may have found the exact opposite has occurred. Still, says J.B. Orecchia in an interview with Reuters Money, planning and saving is possible even after the age of 55. Orecchia is president and CEO of Oweing.com, a website that helps consumers with tracking debt and creating repayment plans.
It starts with taking stock of your debt and spending habits. This is the best way to get a good idea of where you are and what you’ll have to do to get into a more comfortable position for retirement. Worrying won’t help and isn’t the answer. Facing the task at hand and coming to terms with the realities of retirement are the only ways to handle this situation in a sane, methodical way. You must “understand your debt and your income and how to keep them in balance,” says Orecchia. If it’s going to take some time to rid yourself of debt, delaying retirement may be an option you’ll want to consider. With careful, purposeful planning even at a later age, retirement goals may be met sooner than you may have thought.
The MSN Money Staff advises “don’t despair and don’t panic.” There are many nearing retirement age who are facing similar situations—not enough planning for the future and retirement getting closer—but there are ways to get to retirement with minimal distress involved. If you’re not ready and the time is getting near, MSN Money provides information on how to make a sensible, doable retirement plan that consists of first looking at how much you will receive from Social Security. It’s a start, but it won’t fund much beyond the very basic necessities of living. You may want to consider working longer than you had planned. Of course, the longer you wait to start collecting, the larger the check each month. The figures and guidelines tend to change from time to time, so make sure your estimates reflect the most current information available. The Social Security Administration has a website dedicated to this issue: Retirement Planner.
Other advice includes putting Retirement Savings at the top of any budget so that it is a priority. Reduction in spending is a must. Paying off credit card debt goes without saying. Use senior discounts and coupons wherever possible, especially in the grocery store. All the reductions and tightening of the belt can increase the amount you have each month to put into the retirement savings account. If you are still employed, maximize contributions to retirement plans already in place with your employer. Diversify, and be sure to invest only in safer investments such as bonds and “low-risk mutual funds.”
If funds are really tight and you’re in retirement already, you can find discounts through aarp.org and other Internet sites. Also, using the Eldercare Locator online, there is help available to pay for food and other essentials, such as utilities. Take advantage of the programs you find that will help you save some of your money to maintain your lifestyle during retirement years. You may want to consider the highly touted reverse mortgage, but you need to have paid off your home mortgage and be 62 or older to qualify for one of these. Other options include selling your high-dollar property and downsizing into retirement housing that will help save even more of your money.
As you can see, there are many ways accomplish a retirement strategy after 50 and to safely increase your savings, (and this is not a comprehensive list,) so as to catch up on the planning you never quite got around to years ago. The main point is that it really is better late than never, and in most cases, it’s not an impossible task.