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Delay Social Security benefits

While this represents one of the easiest ways to boost retirement income, many Americans ignore it. But when you delay Social Security benefits until your Full Retirement Age (FRA), the amount of cash available to you increases every year; monthly benefits jump 8% annually until age 70.

So wait, if you can. The Social Security setup provides a literal example of how patience reaps rewards.

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Maximize retirement contributions

The closer you get to retirement, the more you should contribute to tax-advantaged retirement accounts.

It’s that simple.

Fortunately, the IRS allows you to make catch-up contributions once you hit 50. This means you can start contributing even more to your 401(k), Roth IRA, and (at age 55) Health Savings Accounts (HSA).

The increased limits as of 2023 are significant: an additional $7,500 allowed beyond the standard limits for a 401(k), $1,000 to a Roth IRA, $3,500 to a simple IRA, and $1,000 to a HSA.

Reduce expenses, pay off debt

Can you cut it — literally? A sound retirement based on the $100,000-at-50 scenario will hinge on cutting expenses and debt. The headwinds created by unsecured debt, especially high interest credit cards, make a hurricane pale by comparison.

If you only make minimum payments on a $10,000 balance, for example, you’re throwing most of your money away. Based on a $199-a-month payment on that balance, and a 21% APR, it will take you 10 years to pay it off. And guess what? You’ve spent $14,000 on interest on top of the $10,000. Research balance transfer offers that can help you save on interest charges and pay off that card much faster.

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Work longer, full- or part-time

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 25.8% of all Americans 65 to 74 continued to participate in the workforce as of 2021. If that sounds like an invitation to continued drudgery, no one said you have to continue a pressure-packed job in retirement. A transition to something far less stressful can help you continue the income flow without the negatives of a rat-race life.

You can also create more savings working full-time, part-time or on a passion project that can yield an income stream (from making crafts, to writing a book, to getting sponsors for a podcast). Is work a life sentence? At retirement age, it can be much more like the writer Khalil Gibran put it: “love made visible.”

Invest wisely

A diversified portfolio allows retirement savings to grow while minimizing risk, according to a study by J.P. Morgan Asset Management. And while there are huge advantages to starting at 30 or 40, 50 can still work out if you pick and choose investments wisely as hedges against inflation.

Fee-only fiduciary advisers have committed to putting your financial interests first, as opposed to selling you expensive products that make them money. And if you take the extra step of seeking out someone a trusted friend or family member uses, you’ll have added reassurance.

Yes, putting your financial details out there can make you feel vulnerable — especially if, at 50, you feel disappointed in your unsuccessful attempts to tee up your retirement. Take heart: Advisers aren’t there to judge you, but to use sound judgment in turning around your financial picture.

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Meet Your Retirement Goals Effortlessly

The road to retirement may seem long, but with WiserAdvisor, you can find a trusted partner to guide you every step of the way

WiserAdvisor matches you with vetted financial advisors that offer personalized advice to help you to make the right choices, invest wisely, and secure the retirement you've always dreamed of. Start planning early, and get your retirement mapped out today.

About the Author

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Amy Legate-Wolfe

Freelance contributor

Amy Legate-Wolfe is an experienced personal finance writer and journalist. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Toronto, a Freelance Writing Certificate in Journalism from the University of Toronto Schools, and a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University. Amy has worked for Huffington Post, CTVNews.ca, CBC, Motley Fool Canada, and Financial Post. She is skilled at analyzing trends and creating content for digital and print platforms. In her free time, Amy enjoys reading and watching British dramas on BritBox. She is a mother and dog-mom to a Wheaten Terrier.

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Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.