The average American is expected to live to 79, which means that many people are living even longer. And when it comes to planning for retirement, it’s always better to be safe than sorry — which means it’s best to start making small (and large) changes now to make sure your money can last three decades or more in retirement, especially given that the future of Social Security is unclear and some believe that Social Security running out is a real possibility in our lifetimes.
My best piece of advice is to own your home as soon as possible. Although this might mean making financial sacrifices elsewhere in your life, paying off your mortgage quickly will save you in the long term, as housing costs are typically our biggest expense.
To get even more advice on how to make your money work for you, save more, spend less and get financially ready for retirement, I spoke to the experts. Here are 99 more tips for how to make your money last if you plan on living to 100.
Last updated July 23, 2019.
Know How Much You Need To Save
This first step to ensure you won’t be running out of money in retirement is to have a realistic sense of how much you’ll actually need.
“Don’t use guesswork in figuring out your approach to [retirement savings] — know where you stand,” said Keith Bernhardt, vice president of retirement income at Fidelity Investments. “You can get started quickly by exploring calculators that can help you get a sense for spending levels that are reasonable.”
Meet With a Financial Advisor To Come Up With a Long-Term Plan
“It’s easy for a young person (and even a not-so-young person) to forget about retirement, but people are living longer and longer,” said Judith Corprew, executive vice president at Patriot Bank, N.A., in Stamford, Connecticut.
With the current average life expectancy, if you retire at age 65, you can expect to live for close to another two decades. “The earlier you have these conversations with a financial advisor, the easier it will be to create a plan that protects your financial security into old age,” Corprew said.
Find a Financial Accountability Partner
Recruit a family member, partner or friend to be your financial accountability partner, and check in regularly about your spending, saving and budgeting. Having to talk about your behavior with another person can help keep you on track.
Take Micro-Actions To Improve Your Financial Literacy
“Adding in smaller tasks to your existing routine requires minimal effort,” said Anuj Nayar, financial health officer at LendingClub. “Doing things incrementally, like browsing your account statements during your morning coffee or listening to educational podcasts on your commute to work, are simple yet impactful steps that over time can empower you to more actively manage your finances.”
Start Saving as Soon as You Can
“If you begin saving when you start working and continue to add to that investment, the benefits of compound interest will accrue year after year,” said Corprew.
Even if you’ve been in the workforce for a while, it’s never too late to start saving. But start now.
Research Your Savings Options
“The first thing people should do is research savings products from a variety of banks and financial institutions,” said Philipp von Girsewald, CEO, USA, at Deposit Solutions. “Many people just simply deposit their cash in their checking account or set up their savings accounts with the bank that manages their checking account — but there are usually much better options out there. Do your research to ensure you’re selecting the best type of savings product from each category — like high-yield savings or money market funds, for example.”
Diversify Your Savings Strategy
“Want to make sure your money is working as hard as you do? Consider diversifying your cash savings strategy by depositing money across a variety of high-APY products with different maturity dates,” said von Girsewald. “This not only allows you to maximize returns but will ensure you have more flexible access to your liquid assets. You may need this flexibility to address unexpected events. The reality is that one nest egg just isn’t enough.”
Consider spreading your savings across high-yield savings accounts, money market accounts and certificates of deposit.
Automate Your Savings
“Have part of your paycheck deposited directly into a savings account,” said Corprew. “Many people simply have their entire paycheck deposited into a checking account for easy access, but end up spending everything they earn each month with nothing left over. By diverting as much as you can afford into an account you don’t use every day, you can build savings over time.”
Save Any Cash Windfalls
When you get a tax refund, bonus or other cash windfalls, there’s a temptation to “treat yourself.” Avoid this temptation and save it instead — your future self will thank you.
Don't Discount Loose Change
“Keep loose change because it adds up,” said Nayar. “When emptying your pockets or purse of loose change and bills, consider depositing them into a good old-fashioned piggy bank. Having a visual representation of your savings will make you proud, and also provide you extra funds to put toward [savings] goals.”
Build an Emergency Fund
“Before you do anything, you need to get an emergency fund in place [with] three to six months of expenses saved,” said Chris Hogan, financial expert, podcast host and author of “Everyday Millionaires.” “This way, you’re prepared in case something happens — it’s not if life will happen, it’s when! And I want you to be able to keep the household running without draining your account.”
Keep Your Emergency Fund Separate From Your Checking Account
“For your emergency fund, I recommend opening a simple money market account that offers basic privileges like check-writing and ATM access,” said Hogan. “That way, you can easily access it if there’s an emergency.”
Track Your Spending
“Tracking what you’re spending and actually seeing where it’s going will help you make better decisions with your money,” said Cory Chapman, CEO of EFC Wealth Management. “Let’s say you add up all of the miscellaneous purchases in a month and realize you spent $500. Now that you have insight into where that money is going, you can make a change.”
Spend Less Than You Earn
“You have to spend less than you earn,” said J.D. Roth, founder of Get Rich Slowly. “Yes, that sounds elementary, but it’s a fundamental truth.”
Chhavi, a personal finance blogger at Mrs. Daaku Studio, is living by this rule herself.
“My husband and I are following this and we see our savings grow each year,” she said. “It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Create a Monthly Budget and Stick To It
Make sure you know exactly how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out. Stick to a budget to make sure expenses are staying in a reasonable range that allows you to save and invest a portion of your income every month.
Make Sure Savings Is Part of Your Budget
“If you’re serious about winning with money, you have to make saving a priority in life — not the last thing you do when everything else is paid for,” said Hogan. “In order to do that, you need to create a monthly budget that includes a line item for savings. You may need to cut back on some extras so you can save for future expenses. If you don’t prioritize and budget for savings, you’ll never have anything in savings.”
Try the 50/30/20 Budget
Under this budgeting rule, “50% of net income is for fixed expenses, such as [a] mortgage, car payments and utilities; 20% is for your savings goals, including short- or long-term goals such as an emergency fund, vacations, home or retirement; and 30% is for variable expenses or the ‘fun stuff’ — shopping, gifts, clothes, etc.,” said Brittney Castro, founder of Financially Wise Women. “If you review your financials with this breakdown and are unsatisfied with the numbers, this is when you cut back on your spending in certain areas or get creative on how to bring in more money so that the breakdown works for you. Have fun with it. I know plenty of people that have a side-hustle so they can take that extra vacation or have extra play money.”
Use Credit Cards as Little as Possible
“Mindfulness of your money is a large component to getting financially healthy, and nothing will make you more mindful of your money than [spending with] cold, hard cash,” said Leanna Johannes, senior wealth strategist at PNC Wealth Management.
If You Do Use a Credit Card, Use a Cash-Back Card
“A credit card that offers cash back on your spending is effectively making those expenses cost less,” said Johannes.
Leave Yourself a Financial Love Note
Encourage yourself to think twice before swiping by attaching a Post-it to your most-used credit card with a note to ask yourself, “Do I really need this?”
Pay Off Your Credit Card in Full Each Month
Interest charges can really take a dent out of your savings, so don’t let charges spill over to the next month.
Differentiate Between 'Wants' and 'Needs'
“Focus on your needs, not just your wants, and try to keep the big picture in mind,” said Yaniv Masjedi, CMO at Nextiva. “A fancy car or house now won’t be worth it if you’ll be scraping by later. Try to get clear with yourself on the things you need to be happy and save the rest.”
When You Splurge On a 'Want,' Put the Same Amount Into Savings
Can’t resist the ice cream shop or that new pair of shoes in the store window? It’s perfectly OK to splurge sometimes, but every time you do, put the same amount you spent on the splurge into your savings account. If you can’t afford to splurge and save the same amount, that’s a sign you should skip the splurge.
Think About Purchases in Terms of Hours Worked
You might be less likely to spend if you think of how much work it took to make that purchase. If you want to buy a $100 pair of designer jeans and you make $20 an hour, consider whether those jeans are really worth five hours of work, or if there’s a better way to spend that hard-earned cash.
“Life is about the experiences we have, not the material possessions we keep. If you plan to live to 100, ‘frugal’ should be your middle name,” said Logan Allec, CPA, owner of personal finance site Money Done Right. “As you reach your golden years, you may be tempted to let loose on those wallet strings but remember this: You can have plenty of fun without draining your bank account dry as you get older.”
Go Small on the Big Things
“Focus on the big items in your monthly budget — your house and car choices make a big impact on how long your money will last,” said GP, personal finance expert and founder of EntirelyMoney.com. “For example, choosing to drive a slightly older but reliable used car will keep a lot more money in your pocket than a brand new leased SUV costing you $700 or more a month.”
Reevaluate Your Morning Latte
“Saving $4 per day that would have gone to buying a latte is $120 per month right there,” said David Thomas, founder and CEO of Equitas Capital Advisors, LLC.
Stop Buying Bottled Water
Instead of buying bottled water, invest in a water filter and a reusable bottle. These small investments will save you money in the long run.
Bring Your Own Lunch to Work
“There are so many ways to reduce the amount you spend each month, [including] preparing lunch at home rather than buying takeout at work,” said Corprew.
Bring Your Own Food to Other Places
Many popular attractions allow you to bring your own food, including Disney World and the San Diego Zoo. These places often have overpriced concessions, so you can save a lot by packing meals for the family.
When You Do Go Out To Eat, Order Water
Restaurants greatly mark up drinks, especially alcohol. Stick to water when you go out to eat, and indulge in a bottle of wine when you get home instead.
If You Do Want To Get Drinks Out, Go To Happy Hour
Many restaurants offer happy hour specials outside of the traditional 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. schedule. Check for all-night or weekend happy hours to save on drinks and food, even if you work past the typical end time.
Cancel Subscriptions You Don't Need
Look at all the monthly charges you have on autopay for subscription streaming services, magazines, etc. Evaluate whether you are actually using all of these subscriptions, and cancel the ones you really don’t need.
Renegotiate Cable and Phone Bills
Renegotiating your cable or phone plan, switching to a lower-tier plan or switching providers can save you hundreds.
“Many of my clients have found this to save them $150 to $200 a month, and they never miss the 500 channels they never watched,” said Trey Peterson, a financial professional with Guardian Wealth Strategies.
Or Better Yet, Cancel Your Cable All Together
“Traditional TV services like satellite and digital cable can easily top $150,” said Hogan. “That’s a lot of money in your budget, especially when you realize how much time you don’t spend in front of the TV. Cut the digital cord and opt for a streaming service or a cheap antenna. That extra money can make a huge difference in your retirement fund.”
Shop Around for Insurance
If you’ve been with the same auto or home insurance provider for a while, it’s time to do some comparison shopping. You might be able to find better rates with a new company.
Leverage 'Found Money'
“Whether you cancel the subscription service you never use or negotiate a lower car payment, you can move that money directly into a retirement or investing account,” said Matt Gellene, consumer banking and investments field advisor and national performance executive at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. “By repurposing this ‘found money,’ it can get you closer to your retirement goal with no sacrifice.”
Choosing generic items over name-brand items at the supermarket is one way to keep expenses in check, said Corprew.
“These small amounts of money here and there add up over time,” she said.
Buy Refurbished Goods
Refurbished electronics are often returned for trivial reasons, and are tested by the manufacturer before being resold. Buying a refurbished TV or smartphone can save you big bucks off the sticker price.
Comparison Shop for Prescriptions
Drug prices can vary from one retailer to the next. Check for prices at different pharmacies, as well as warehouse stores and big-box retailers like Target, to find the best price.
Comparison Shop for Gas
Most of us drive every day, which inevitably means we are regularly spending money at the pump. Use the GasBuddy app to find the lowest gas prices near you.
Keep Your Tires Well Inflated
Another way to save on gas is to keep your tires properly inflated, which improves your gas mileage.
Before paying full price for anything, search Groupon and other coupon sites, and search for online promo codes.
Sign Up for Email Offers
Many retailers will offer you a discount or freebie just for signing up for their emails, and they’ll continue to send you other discounts and special offers throughout the year. If there are restaurants or retailers you frequently spend at, signing up for their emails can help you save.
Always Shop For the Holidays After the Holiday
Holiday decor always goes on sale immediately following the holiday. Shop ahead for the next year rather than paying full price for this merchandise right before the occasion.
Shop Using Retailer Apps
Many retailers, including Target and Walgreens, offer discounts through their apps that can help you save on your next purchase.
Take Advantage Of New Customer Specials
Many businesses that offer personal care and wellness services, like hair salons and chiropractors, will give a discount to new clients as a way to incentivize you to give them a try. Look for these deals on their websites or Yelp, and you can save on your next appointment.
Don't Make Impulse Purchases
“Before checking out when grocery shopping, reassess what is in the cart and remove items that are not a need,” said Anand Talwar, deposits and consumer strategy executive at Ally Bank. “When online shopping, don’t purchase in the moment. Leave the item in the online cart, wait a day and reassess.”
Remove Online Payment Information
Kenzi Wood, a blogger at personal finance site Picky Pinchers, racked up a $1,000 Amazon bill due to the ease of purchasing.
“I was guilty of blowing money on useless trinkets on Amazon,” she said. “I adjusted my browser settings so I didn’t save my login or payment information. The extra inconvenience of logging in and finding my card was enough of a deterrent [from making impulse buys].”
Avoid Shipping Fees
Many retailers offer free shipping year-round, while others have a “buy online, pick up in-store” option. Opt to shop at online retailers that offer these perks to save on shipping fees.
Take Advantage Of Tax-Free Shopping Days
Many states offer tax-free shopping days around the back-to-school season, which is a great time to stock up on clothes for the whole family. When you don’t have to pay a sales tax, your money will stretch a lot further.
Shop With Discounted Gift Cards
You can find discounted gift cards at warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco, as well as through sites including Gift Card Granny, Raise and Cardpool. Buy gift cards for the retailers you shop at most, and you’ll automatically be saving money on your next purchase when you shop with them.
Don't Use Out-of-Network ATMs
The fees charged by out-of-network ATMs are small, but they can add up over time. It’s always better to go the extra step to visit your own bank or get cash back at the nearest grocery store or pharmacy chain.
Avoid Other Banking Fees
Not maintaining an account minimum or bouncing a check are easy ways to be hit with unnecessary bank fees. Be mindful of your account balances to avoid these charges, which can add up if they happen regularly.
Unplug Your Unused Electronics
Unused electronics that stay plugged in throughout the day can be adding on to your electric bill. Unplug as many appliances as you can when they are not in use to save more money.
Get Creative With Family Activities
“Free home family entertainment can be a wonderful thing to reduce spending and bring a family together,” said Thomas.
This can mean a game night, at-home movie night or another crowd-pleasing activity.
Spend More Time at the Library
Save money on books and movie rentals by borrowing them for free at your local library.
Have a 'No Spend Day' Once a Week
If you plan your meals ahead, you can easily designate one day a week during which you don’t spend any money.
Make Better Use of Your Free Time
“One trick I always like to tell people is to find more time,” said Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, founder of Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance website. “The average person watches over 30 hours of TV a week, and that could easily be put towards making more money, finding ways to save money and so on.”
Have Multiple Income Streams
“If you knew you would live until 100, then I’d suggest you get started creating multiple streams of income today,” said Jerry Brown, owner of Peerless Money Mentor. “Depending on your current age and spending habits, you will probably need to build a substantial portfolio. Having multiple streams of income would help you accomplish that if you invest a sizable portion of the extra income.”
Turn Hobbies Into a Side Gig
“The worst thing you can do when it comes to saving for retirement and having enough money is to think it’s too late to get started,” said John Rampton, CEO at Calendar. “The fact is that you can still save enough in your 30s and 40s to last you until you are 100. Find ways to reduce your spending while increasing what you put in the bank, even if it means turning hobbies into side gigs that pay for retirement.”
Start a Business
“One of the surest ways to make your money last to 100 is to build a business that can last generations,” said Catherine Alford, co-founder of TrendyMoney.com. “If you build a business, grow it, train a team and always maintain a partial ownership stake in the business, you can create passive income that will last you long after you’ve retired. Whether you own a family business or are a serial entrepreneur, this is a great way to ensure constant cash flow even if you’re not physically running the operation.”
Have Some Type of Guaranteed Income for Life
If you don’t start a business, consider other ways to create a lifelong income stream.
“Cover your basic expenses in retirement with some form of guaranteed lifetime income,” said Tom Hegna, author, speaker and retirement expert. “No retirement plan is complete until then.”
Some passive income ideas include renting a spare room, your bike or car; real estate crowdfunding; and buying an ATM or billboard.
Sell Stuff You Don't Need
Yearly spring cleaning can freshen up your home and fatten up your wallet. Use this time to go through closets and drawers to find clothes, electronics and other items that you no longer use, and resell them online or at a consignment shop.
Pay Off High Interest Debts ASAP
“Paying off high-interest credit card debt should be a top priority,” said Robert Johnson, professor of finance at Heider College of Business, Creighton University. “Credit card debt can be debilitating and can prevent people from improving their financial position.”
Find a Job That Offers Subsidized Healthcare in Retirement
“Healthcare costs are high and will become more expensive as you grow older,” said Allan Liwanag from The Practical Saver. “Find a company that can subsidize your healthcare plan. For example, when you are active duty in the U.S. military and retire after 20 years, the federal government will allow you to take your healthcare plan, known as Tricare, into retirement. When you take the healthcare benefits into consideration, you’ll be able to make your money last because you’re not dedicating much of your money towards healthcare costs.”
Put Money in a Health Savings Account
Not everyone will be able to find a job that offers healthcare in retirement, but there are other things you can do now to help with the costs of healthcare later on, such as opening an HSA.
“As healthcare costs continue to soar, funding the price of healthcare can be a major financial strain, particularly later in life. Fortunately, a Health Savings Account (HSA) is becoming an increasingly valuable savings tool for health-related expenses,” said Surya Kolluri, head of thought leadership at Bank of America’s Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions business. “Offered to those in a high-deductible health plan, HSAs are so powerful due to their triple tax advantage: not only are your contributions and withdrawals tax-deductible, you can invest your contributions with the potential to grow tax-free over time. And unlike other ‘use it or lose it’ vehicles, HSAs can be used to fund qualified healthcare expenses both today and well into your later years. As we prepare for the 100-year life, HSAs can be invaluable in helping us plan for lifelong health costs while reducing the risk we dip into other savings for major or unplanned health expenses. It’s a tool that truly lasts you for life.”
Take Advantage Of Employee Benefits
“In addition to health insurance, many employers offer subsidies for transportation, gym memberships and other common expenses,” said Corprew. “These could save you money by avoiding paying the cost out of pocket.”
Contribute To a 401(k) — or IRA — as Soon as Possible
“Any contributions you make will compound over time, so getting money in now will likely mean you’ll have a much bigger nest egg down the road,” said Mark McKee, president and COO of OnPay. “You should have the ability to set up automatic contributions from your bank account. Even a few dollars a month can have a big impact.”
Take Advantage Of Employer Matching Contributions
“If your employer offers a 401(k), make sure you take advantage of any matching funds, which can effectively double the investments you make instantly,” said McKee.
Aim To Contribute 10% of Your Salary to Retirement Funds
“Ten percent is usually a good benchmark of what you should be saving,” said Brian Pirri, CFP, principal at New England Investment & Retirement Group.
Increase Your Contributions Yearly
“Create a plan and continually find ways to annually increase what you put toward your net worth,” said Rampton.
Regularly Rebalance Your 401(k) To Make Sure It Matches Your Risk Tolerance
“You must always be making sure that the overall risk of your portfolio matches your risk tolerance,” said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Strategic Wealth Advisors Group. “If they do not match, then you will need to either decrease or increase the risk of your portfolio. It’s not worth losing sleep or stressing yourself out over — that’s why you rebalance your portfolio and monitor it more often as you get closer to retirement.”
Practice Dollar-Cost Averaging
“Dollar-cost averaging is an investment strategy that involves purchasing a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment on some sort of regular schedule, regardless of market conditions,” said Johnson. “In your 401(k), [that means] purchasing a fixed amount of a mutual fund or ETF every month or every pay period.”
Contribute To a Roth 401(k) in Addition To a Traditional 401(k)
“If a Roth 401(k) option is available, that’s a great way for young, lower-income workers that anticipate being in a higher tax bracket later on to save,” said Pirri.
Choose Low-Fee Investments for Your Retirement Accounts
“Choose funds with the lowest expense ratios,” said Dejan Ilijevski, president of Sabela Capital Markets. “The funds with the lowest costs tend to be index funds, which are also generally the best option when investing. Research has shown that disciplined investing with a globally diverse portfolio of index mutual funds has in the long-run outperformed — net of fees — more expensive, speculative strategies and actively managed mutual funds. Look for ‘index’ in the fund name, like ‘Total Stock Market Index Fund.’ If they are available in your 401(k), Vanguard funds are a great option.”
Ask For What You Deserve at Work
If it’s been a while since you got a raise and you think you deserve one, set up a meeting with your manager to discuss a possible pay bump. If you don’t, you could be stuck making the same earnings for years — which means your finances will be stuck too. The worst you could hear is “no.”
Invest Your Raise Instead of Spending It
When you get a raise at work, “act as if you didn’t receive the raise — that is, continue to live the same lifestyle you led before receiving a raise and invest the difference,” said Johnson. “The most common mistake is that people let their spending increase commensurate with their new salary. For instance, people move into a bigger apartment or buy a more expensive car to reward themselves for receiving the raise.”
Invest In Stocks
“I do not know what the next 100 years will hold, but I do know that one of the best ways to combat inflation for the last 100 years has been in the stock market,” said Joseph Conroy, a financial consultant at Synergy Financial Group. “We often hear that as we get older we should be more conservative and own bonds. The problem is when there is increased longevity, we need the returns of stocks in order for our portfolios to outlive us. The right balanced approach — and a portfolio that still maintains a strong stock allocation — is one of the best ways to battle inflation and future healthcare costs.”
Invest In Annuities
“Annuities are an important part of a comprehensive retirement plan [that] too often get a bad rap,” said Johnson. “They can provide guaranteed income and peace of mind to the retiree. Having an annuity cover your basic living expenses is a terrific cornerstone to a retirement income plan. In particular, a longevity annuity is a stream of payments that starts when an individual reaches a certain advanced age, say 85. Those payments continue until the individual passes away. If you have a longevity annuity, you have a secure source of income late in your life. If you purchase it early enough in life, this guaranteed income can come at a reasonable cost.”
Invest In Asset Classes That Are Adjusted for Inflation
“Even if inflation remains at its more muted current level and averages only 2% per year, the prices of everything you need in retirement will almost double every 30 years,” said Lawrence Solomon, a client advisor at Mercer Advisors. “Healthcare costs will typically go up 5% or more annually, meaning they will double every 14 years, or double at least three times if you retire at 65 and live to age 100. To hedge against inflation, in addition to stocks, consider allocating some of your assets in ‘real return’ asset classes, like real estate, hard assets or Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS), which are adjusted for inflation every year.”
Kyle, the founder of Financial Wolves, recommends real estate investing in particular.
“Generally speaking, if you can invest in profitable, income-producing real estate, your money should last into perpetuity and is completely inflation-protected,” he said. “Real estate investing is one of the few investment opportunities that provide income and capital appreciation over the long-term.”
Invest In a Rental Property
“With rental properties, you get a steady stream of income through rent payments and the value of your property grows over time,” said Andy Hill of MarriageKidsandMoney.com. “When you hold your property for the long haul — say until you’re 100 — your real estate investment will have grown significantly and your rental income will have as well. If you don’t want to manage the properties as you grow older, allocate about 8% to 12% of the value of the home in a good property management company and enjoy your ‘forever money’ stress-free.”
Invest In Alternative Assets
“There’s an entire universe of alternative assets where the smart money has been investing for decades,” said Saul Cohen, CEO of Round. “[These include] things like leveraged loans, collateralized loan obligations or asset-backed securities — many of which can be found in some mutual funds managed by prestigious fund managers.”
Invest In 'Safe' Accounts Too
“Have a portion of investable monies in ‘safe,’ ‘never lose’ accounts, like CDs, government bonds, etc., so when the market takes a beating, at least a chunk of your life savings is not going backward,” said Wayne Maslyk, president and CEO at Great Lakes Benefits and Wealth Management.
Overall, Take a Balanced Approach to Investing
“Rather than one extreme or the other, we take a balanced approach in order to meet our clients’ spending needs now and in the future, by recommending diversified stock and bond portfolios to achieve the maximum total return possible given their risk tolerance,” said Daniel Kopp, a financial planner and founder of the fee-only RIA Wise Stewardship Financial Planning.
Don't Withdraw Your Money When the Market Is Down
“Sometimes, markets misbehave and we go through crashes that dramatically reduce your account balance,” said Justin Pritchard, a fee-only certified financial planner in Montrose, Colorado, and founder of Approach Financial, Inc. “When the markets are down, it’s best to minimize withdrawals because your portfolio takes a bigger hit when you sell assets during a market weakness.”
Live Off the Dividends of Your Investments
“It can take longer to build up, but having a residual amount coming in every month from secure dividend-yielding stocks can help take the pressure off of your nest egg,” said Andrew Daniels of Family Money Plan. “Think of it like eating the eggs instead of killing the golden goose. If you can combine this with living frugally, then you may never need to touch your nest egg, only the dividends and interest it produces.”
If You Don't Have Much Discretionary Income, Start With Micro-Investing
Not everyone can afford to invest in real estate or pricey stocks — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be investing.
“Try micro-investing through apps like Stash or Acorns,” said Tony Drake, chief executive officer at Drake & Associates. “Any time you can get more money into your investment accounts, it is a good thing. The earlier you can start saving for retirement, the better. These tech tools are a simple way to get money into your accounts, and it can add up to a bigger amount than many people realize.”
Added Jon Bradshaw, CTO at Appointment, “Using the many types of available investment apps that take your spare change and automatically deposit it into designated savings or an investment account can make a huge difference in what you can save toward what you need when you are older.”
Invest In Your Physical and Mental Health
“It might seem counter-intuitive to spend money in order to save in the long term, but investing in your own health is immensely important,” said Tom Blake of ThisOnlineWorld.com. “It doesn’t matter if you sign up for a fitness class, purchase a new pair of running shoes, or even attend therapy; prioritizing your mental and physical health is one of the best ways to keep fit and to fend off illnesses and the expensive medical bills that can be associated.”
Peter Koch of DollarSanity.com agreed.
“Health is the most important investment you can make,” he said. “Start investing in your health as soon as possible and spare yourself from medical expenses in the future.”
But Think Twice Before Signing Up for a Gym Membership
Many gym memberships go unused, and this can end up becoming a wasteful monthly expense. If you know you will actually stick to a regular gym routine, it’s worth the investment, but if you know you will really only go once or twice a month — or never — it’s probably not worth the monthly payment. There are always free ways to work out, such as heading outside for a walk, run, hike or bike ride, or following along with YouTube workouts at home.
Invest In Energy-Efficient Appliances
The upfront costs might be high, but you’re sure to save money over the life of the appliance thanks to the decrease in your electric bill.
Modify or Purchase a Home That's Aging Friendly
Julie Rains, writer and publisher at Investing to Thrive, recommends buying a home that can accommodate you as you age — such as one with hallways wide enough to fit a wheelchair — or modifying your home so that it can accommodate you in your golden years.
This can allow you to stay at home in retirement, rather than go to an expensive facility, she said.
Have a Plan for Long-Term Care
“Take a holistic and honest look at expenses in retirement, including long-term care,” said Mark Struthers, CFA, CFP, founder and financial advisor at Sona Financial.
“While your insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are fairly predictable, long-term care can be a wildcard,” said Roger Young, senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price. “Whether you self-insure for that risk or purchase insurance, you need to plan for the possibility that you’ll need long-term care.”
Don't Dip Into Your Retirement Savings Early
“I see a lot of people making this big mistake in their 40s,” said Keith Ellis Jr., co-founder of SHP Financial in Plymouth, Massachusetts. “They dip into their retirement savings to help out their adult children, or perhaps to support aging parents. I know you want to help out your family, but consider this: you don’t want your children to have to take care of you down the road.”
Extend the Usefulness of Your Employer-Provided Pension Plan
“If you are lucky enough to receive a pension from your employer, it might make sense to delay drawing on this income stream should payments then increase as you wait,” said Riley Adams, a licensed CPA in the state of Louisiana and founder of Young and the Invested. “In my experience having a company-provided pension, the future payments would be discounted by up to 2% per year if you retire before 65. Should you retire at 65, the nationally-recognized retirement age, you would receive a full, 100% payout as opposed to 80% were you to retire at 55.”
Avoid Retiring Too Soon
“If you want your money to last until you’re 100, you may have to delay your official retirement just a bit longer than expected — but that doesn’t mean you have to work full-time for the rest of your life,” said Allec. “Consider an age at which you can comfortably leave your current career for a more relaxed part-time job.”
Delay Claiming Social Security To Maximize Benefits
“Recently, the Social Security retirement age changed to 66 and 2 months for people born in 1955, and will gradually rise to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. These ages are the minimum age at which you can choose to begin receiving Social Security retirement benefits,” said Gellene. “However, for each year you postpone taking this benefit (until age 70), your monthly check will be larger. By age 66, you’ll probably want to have determined your strategy — whether to start collecting Social Security, to keep working or to work and receive benefits, depending on your personal situation. You can also choose to defer Social Security even if you are not working. If you continue to work and take Social Security, there are income limits that could reduce your benefits until you reach full retirement age.”
Have a Withdrawal Strategy
“Your retirement withdrawal strategy will have a huge impact on how long your money lasts,” said Brandon Renfro, a professor and financial planner in Hallsville, Texas. “Having a plan to vary your withdrawals can help a lot. Making small adjustments when your withdrawal rate edges too high can shield your portfolio during years when your investments decline since selling in a down market has an especially bad effect on your portfolio’s lifespan.”
Brenton Harrison, a financial advisor in Nashville, Tennessee, suggests this approach: “For many Americans, the bulk of their retirement assets are in traditional retirement accounts that haven’t been taxed, such as 401(k)s or IRAs. At age 70 1/2, these accounts are subject to Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs), which increase each year regardless of whether you need the money you’re withdrawing. The government’s goal is for you to withdraw money so they can tax it, and taking larger and larger distributions can be harmful to your accounts’ longevity. Diversifying where your assets are held, through accounts such as Roth retirement accounts, nonqualified accounts and even real estate, can help ensure that taxes don’t compromise your retirement plans.”
Turn Longevity Into an Asset
“Americans are living longer than ever before, and funding a long life takes thought and planning. The foundation of saving and wealth-building needs to support the 100-year life. Luckily, time is on our side,” said Kolluri. “Start a retirement plan as early as you can, take advantage of tax-efficient retirement plan options such as 401(k)s that provide the opportunity to grow with compound interest, work longer if possible, and maximize Social Security and pension benefits. Time can be your most valuable asset.”
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Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.
Last updated July 23, 2019.