If you’re worried that Social Security won’t get you through retirement comfortably, you’re probably right. In fact, Social Security alone is barely enough to get most retirees above the poverty level. The average Social Security retirement benefit as of April 2023 is about $1,786 a month or $21,431 a year — only slightly higher than the U.S. poverty line of $19,720 for a household of two.
The situation could get even worse in 2033, when Social Security’s Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) Trust Fund is expected to run out of money. When that happens, the program will be solely reliant on payroll taxes for funding — and those taxes only cover about 77% of current benefits.
Social Security works fine as a supplement to your retirement income, but it’s not intended to be the primary source. Instead of focusing all your energy on Social Security benefits, make these six money moves to help you better prepare for retirement if you leave the workforce after 2033.
An annuity is a way to supplement your retirement income by converting an investment from a pool of capital to an income stream that lasts for your lifetime. If you die prematurely, the insurance company keeps the remainder of the payments. But if you outlive your anticipated lifespan, the insurance company will continue paying you for the rest of your life. The upshot is you never outlive your income.
With this strategy, you divide your retirement savings into three buckets based on when you’ll need to access the funds, according to Motley Fool. The idea is to balance long-term investment growth with liquidity. The first bucket is money you plan to spend within the next couple of years on living expenses, major purchases or an emergency fund. Keep these funds where you can access them immediately, such as a high-yield savings account.
The second bucket is for money you plan to use within the following three to 10 years. Since you don’t need to access it immediately, you can put it into bonds or certificates of deposit. The third bucket is for money you want to leave alone for a decade or more. These funds should be invested in stocks, real estate or other assets with high growth potential.
Sell Your Car
Sure, it sounds radical — how can you live in the United States without a car? In truth, it’s much easier now than it used to be because of rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. If you live in the right city, you might also have access to numerous mass-transit options and bike lanes.
Transportation is the second-highest expense for most households, according to the Money Crashers website. It cited AAA data showing that the average car costs nearly $9,300 a year when you add up insurance, gas, maintenance, parking and other expenses. Putting that money into retirement savings instead will help you build wealth through investments and compounding interest.
Get a Side Gig
Side gigs are often thought of as a way to earn extra spending money or help cover bills, but they can also play an important role in retirement income and savings. Once you’re retired, a side hustle can supplement your income — especially when you reach full retirement age, when outside income no longer impacts your Social Security benefits. Even before you’re retired you can put your side-gig earnings into retirement accounts such as a solo 401(k), SEP-IRA, traditional IRA or Roth IRA.
Health Savings Account
HSAs can be used to cover medical expenses at all ages, but you can also use them for nonmedical expenses, Motley Fool noted. You will have to pay a penalty if you do this before age 65, but after that you can use the funds just as you would with a traditional IRA. You’ll have to pay taxes on withdrawals, but with the advantage of tax-free medical withdrawals and no required minimum distribution.
Invest in a REIT
Real estate investment trusts are an attractive way for retirees and others to generate income because they give you exposure to real estate investments without having to buy a property yourself. You have two basic options with REITs: those that are publicly traded and those that are non-traded, according to U.S. Bank.
Publicly-traded REITs are listed on major stock exchanges, so you can buy and sell them like stocks. These REITs often focus on specific types of properties such as residential real estate, office properties and warehouse/industrial space. As U.S. Bank noted, publicly-traded REITs can provide a source of regular income that can contribute to your long-term retirement savings.
With a non-traded REIT, you invest in a professionally managed portfolio of commercial real estate. Non-traded REITs hold investments in a range of assets, including vacation properties, apartment buildings, hotels, data centers, healthcare facilities, office buildings and retail centers. Just keep in mind that this is a non-liquid asset that investors typically hold for the term of the trust until it is liquidated by the management team.
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