If you think you haven’t saved enough for a truly secure retirement, think again. The impossible could become possible with any one of these 10 creative ways to retire.
You see, saving diligently your entire life and then quitting work to play bridge is only one way to get to retirement. And, the odds are that it is not YOUR way.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of different levers that can be used to pull off financial independence in your 50s, 60s and beyond.
Here are 10 ways to retire, even without adequate savings:
1. Take a Mini Retirement or Gap Year
If you are emotionally or psychologically ready for retirement, but your finances are not quite there, you might explore taking a mini retirement – an extended (3-12 month) vacation from work.
Many people nearing retirement age find that an extended break from work is enough to recharge and re-energize. The trick is convincing your employer to let you have this precious time off. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, unpaid sabbatical leave is offered officially by only 12% of employers and only 4% of employers offered paid leave programs.
However, it may be worth exploring your individual situation with a human resources manager.
Quitting your job with the hopes of finding a similar job upon your return is another option. However, many people who take a retirement gap year actually discover an encore career and new passions during their mini retirements.
2. Prioritize What’s Important and Dramatically Scale Down Expenses
Living frugally is never going to be easy street, but it can be extremely rewarding to stay focused only on the things that are truly important to you.
Most financial advisors make the assumption that we need to maintain our lifelong spending habits when we retire. While this IS true for most of us, many people redefine themselves in retirement and can dramatically reduce spending – one of the best ways to retire securely.
Retirement is an excellent time to take stock of what you have and what you want. If you know what is most important to you, you can set goals and figure out a way to achieve your highest priority.
A few tips:
Look Carefully at Your Current Spending: When you have established what is important to you, assess your current budget. Take a really detailed look at everything you spend money on – many people are surprised to learn how much little things that don’t really matter in the long run can add up over the course of a month.
Create Detailed Projections: Use the NewRetirement Planner to create a detailed budget for your projected spending. When you get specific about your needs and how those will vary over time, you may find out that you are much better off than you thought.
Cut Costs: Figure out how to slash both the big (eliminating your car can create sizeable savings) and small costs. Get rid of anything and everything not related to your top priorities.
Assess Lifestyle: Take a look at where you live, who you spend time with and what you do on a daily basis. If these aren’t in line with what is important to you, then make changes that can save you money and help you live a more meaningful life.
Remind Yourself About What is Important: Write down your retirement priorities and refer to them daily.
It may even be helpful to write a list every day about what you want to accomplish and why.
These simple tasks can help you stay on track.
3. Or, Spend More! (Just Not Every Month)
Yes, your heard me right. You could perhaps spend more in retirement and still have a secure future.
You see, a lot of people plan retirement thinking that they will keeping spending the same amount forever into the future as they do now. However, that is probably NOT what is going to happen.
You might need and want to spend more right after you stop working when you are relatively young and want to travel or engage in new hobbies. But, your spending will likely drop off as you get older. (Many people follow a pattern of spending more right after retirement, gradually reducing spending until near longevity when long term care or medical costs balloon your outlay.)
Thinking through the details of your retirement spending and giving yourself some leeway to spend more (maybe just a little bit more) in certain years and less (perhaps much less) at other times might just enable you to retire sooner than you had planned.
The NewRetirement Planner helps you think through detailed budgeting for your future and you can vary your overall spending as well as your spending in individual categories to get to reasonable projections.
4. Think Outside the Box (Rethink Housing)
Many people don’t think much about their home when creating a retirement plan. However, your home is probably your single greatest expense. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the cost of home and home-related expenses accounts for about 43% of spending for those who are 65 to 74. Reducing this cost could be one of the best ways to retire securely.
Furthermore, if you own your home, then it is also probably your most valuable asset and one that could be used to help fund retirement expenses.
Rent Out Your Home or a Room in Your Home: House sharing is becoming more and more common. And, Airbnb has absolutely exploded in popularity. Renting out a room in your existing home (or your whole home when traveling) – either on a permanent or short term basis – can be a great way to help fund retirement because it uses an existing resource to generate money. Learn how to become an AirBnB host here.
Downsize: If reducing housing costs and releasing your home equity interests you, downsizing may be a great option. When you downsize you sell your existing home and buy or rent something less expensive. It can be a smaller home or a residence in another community. Learn more in this complete guide to downsizing.
Go Teeny Tiny: There is downsizing and then there are tiny homes. If you think that you could live in 500 square feet or less, then a tiny house could simplify your lifestyle and finances. And, did you know that about 40 percent of tiny houses are inhabited by older adults? Is a tiny house the big solution for your retirement plan?
Get a Reverse Mortgage: A reverse mortgage is a loan against your home equity. However, unlike traditional mortgages, you do not have to pay back the money borrowed as long as you are living in the home. If you want to stay in your existing home, a reverse mortgage is an interesting way to eliminate ongoing monthly mortgage payments and get access to cash to use for retirement expenses. More about reverse mortgages.
Hit the Road: A few retirees sell most of their possessions – including the home – and hit the road. Could you imagine living in a motorhome or houseboat and traveling during retirement?
5. Pay Attention to the Big Opportunities
Besides housing, taxes, debt and Social Security are probably the biggest levers you have for making retirement work with inadequate savings.
Debt: Imagine if you could spend the money you are currently using to pay down your debts every month! Being debt free costs a bit up front, but it is key to being financially free in the long run. Paying interests on debt is akin to lighting money on fire. Get rid of your debt as soon as possible.
(However, don’t worry too much if you are carrying a mortgage so long as it is at a low fixed rate interest rate.)
Taxes: Being tax smart with your retirement plans can mean more accurate projections and more money in your accounts. From where you live to income planning, there are many different ways you can reduce your tax burden. The NewRetirement Planner will help you discover opportunities.
Social Security: So, what could you do with an extra $100,000? A lot I’ll bet! Waiting to start Social Security could potentially get you that kind of cash.
The longer you wait to start benefits, the more you will receive monthly and this can add up to a $100,000 extra at your disposal – depending on how long you live.
6. Find Work that Feels Like Play
You don’t want to work – working is not “retirement.” However, maybe you enjoy cooking, woodshop or spending time with dogs. There are more and more ways to make money from these types of hobbies.
If there is something you enjoy doing, you can probably figure out a way to get paid for it.
Explore 50 more passive income ideas!
7. Retire Abroad
The United States, especially certain parts, are extremely expensive places to live. Retiring abroad can offer adventure and a dramatic reduction in cost structure for your retirement.
There are affordable places to live in all corners of the world – places where the climate might be a little warmer, where the cost of housing might be a little (or a lot) less expensive, and the healthcare might be more affordable.
But is it realistic to think you can afford to spend your retirement years living in some exotic locale? Not only is retiring abroad plausible, the number of retirees who have actually done this has more than doubled since 2006. And the kicker? They’re doing it for a lot less money than you might think, some as low as $40 per day!
8. Don’t Set a Date – Transition into Retirement
Once upon a time, long long ago… we set a date and planned a big party for retirement. You went to work one day and then never again.
9. Stay Healthy and Make Good Insurance Choices
Some retirees spend more in their lifetime on out of pocket healthcare costs than they earn in Social Security. You can do a lot to cut those costs by staying healthy and by choosing Supplemental Medicare Coverage carefully.
Shopping around for the best supplemental Medicare plan should be done every year. Plans change. Your health needs change.
10. Have a Detailed Retirement Plan and Make Smart Retirement Decisions
Creating a retirement plan might not seem like one of the most “creative” ways to retire.
However, only 30% of Americans have a long-term financial plan that includes savings and investment goals and a detailed outline for their retirement finances. So, if you have a plan, you are at least unique – if not creative!
And, the good news for planners? The retirees who went through a rigorous planning process to figure out “how to retire” expressed the most satisfaction with retirement.
The NewRetirement Planner makes it easy to create a detailed plan and discover ways to retire securely. Beyond these “creative” ideas – explore how delaying the start of Social Security or optimizing investments can give you a better future. Start by entering some basic information and get some initial feedback on where you stand.
Then you can add a lot more detail and really get an accurate estimate for how much you need.
Best of all, you can try an infinite number of scenarios. See how downsizing, a retirement job, or reducing expenses will impact your finances. Forbes Magazine calls this system “a new approach to retirement planning.”