The adjustment period
Even if you have a smart plan for retirement, there’s still an adjustment period where leaving the labor force means far less money coming in and more going out. And let’s face it, pre-retirement habits and assumptions can be difficult to change.
If money from government sources and investments represents the upside, then spending habits — with an emphasis on “habits” — are the other. And the two must exist in balance.
Look over your budget before retirement, not after. Where and what do you spend on? What’s your projected cash inflow? Which cuts make sense, especially if they don’t impact your quality of life?
Review everything from subscriptions you stopped using long ago to exorbitant rates for wireless and mobile phone usage. Such moves can bolster your savings cushion when you’re ready to move ahead.
Prioritize your expenses
Want to travel? It’s a delicious luxury but it’s incredibly expensive when you factor in food, lodging, flights and frequency of trips. Want to renovate your home or buy a seaside getaway? Interest rates on first and second mortgages these days are through the roof.
Want to stay healthy? Treadmills and gym memberships cost money — though certainly, prevention is a big bargain compared to a lengthy hospital stay.
Before you break open the coffers and live it up, get a sense of your “nice to haves” versus your “need to haves.” If visiting family you miss comes far ahead of a two-week trip to Paris as priorities go, allow your wallet to follow your heart.
Keep adding to your savings
Once it’s time to retire, many folks throw the savings plan out the window of the cruise ship or dream home. That’s the wrong way to go. Saving not only offers a buffer but also a means to make even more aspirations possible.
If you once put 10% of each paycheck aside, you could now aim for 10% of each Social Security check. Even just 5% is better than nothing, especially if you invest it wisely. Yes, the stock market is down these days, but as billionaire Warren Buffett advises, it’s also the ideal time to buy stocks that are undervalued and overly punished by nervous investors.
Read more: Here's how much the average American 60-year-old holds in retirement savings — how does your nest egg compare?
Have a Social Security strategy
If you take your Social Security starting at age 62, you’ll miss out on additional funds you’d reap at a later retirement age, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).
If you wait until you hit 66, the SSA calculates that you’d reap $1,000 instead of $750. Further, you could receive delayed retirement credits should you wait until full retirement age, which stops when you reach 70.
To be certain, eliminating debt and dealing with health issues might not make deferment possible. But otherwise, it’s ideal.
A golden option for your golden years
Still a few years away from retirement? With the economy in such a volatile state amid high inflation and stock market uncertainty, your 401(k) or IRA — and your retirement itself — could be at risk.
You could try to adjust your retirement accounts for better protection, but there’s a lesser-known alternative that could pay off big.
A Gold IRA is a type of individual retirement account that allows you to invest in gold and other precious metals in physical forms, such as coins, instead of stocks, mutual funds and other traditional investments.
It’s a great alternative because unlike the U.S. dollar, which has lost 98% of its purchasing power since 1971, gold’s purchasing power remains more stable over time.
Opting for a Gold IRA gives you the opportunity to both diversify your portfolio and stabilize your finances — and gold tends to yield less risk than other alternative investments.
If you want to open a Gold IRA, there are reputable services that’ll let you roll over your current 401(k) or IRA into this new account. To qualify, you need to be over 59 years old and have at least $70,000 to transfer.
Put it all together
It’s understandable, but often regrettable, that new retirees feel an urgency to pack all their living into a do-it-now package. Not only does that make it harder to savor the moment — it also creates an undue stress to do it all, no matter the cost or stress.
No retiree needs to live under that kind of pressure. Financially, emotionally, even spiritually: Pacing yourself makes room for gratitude and decreases the odds that you’ll wind up spent before your time.
You should be checking in with experts like your doctor, lawyer or home contractor to help with many aspects of your life and retirement. Just as you take all those answers for granted, nothing replaces a capable financial adviser. As you prep for your first year of retirement, yearly visits should be a given, especially in periods of market volatility.
If you don't have one yet, researching and calling multiple financial planners can be a time-consuming hassle, but there are ways you can easily browse vetted advisers online that fit your needs.
If you're unsure of how to safeguard your savings during a recession, the time to find a financial adviser is now.