Rescue Your Retirement in 3 Steps -- Even at Age 60

posted on 09-01-2019

Less than a quarter of Americans older than 55 has at least $250,000 in savings and investments, according to the Employment Benefits Research Institute.

I don't want to be a downer on the subject, but if you are in your 60s, chances are your retirement plan could use a little help, too. Especially if you don't want to keep working forever.

Fortunately, you have some great options for helping you play catch up.

1. Save up to the Limit, If You Can

If you have the resources and budget discipline, now is the time to save up as much as possible.

The nice thing about playing catch up is you can significantly lower your taxable income when you take advantage of retirement accounts. And even if you max out your IRS allowed contribution amounts for your tax-advantaged retirement accounts (a great problem to have), you can then put more of your savings in taxable investment accounts to reach your retirement goals.

As of 2018 (post-tax reform), the IRS allows individuals under age 50 to contribute up to $18,500 per year in a 401(k) and $5,500 per year in an IRA and/or Roth IRA. And if you are age 50 or older, you can make additional catch-up contributions to these retirement vehicles -- letting you contribute up to a max of $24,500 per year for 401(k)s and $6,500 per year for IRAs and Roth IRAs.

If you are a business owner, you can contribute even more to a SIMPLE IRA (up to $12,500 with a catch- up limit of $15,500) or a SEP IRA (up to $55,000) for 2018.

2. Decide When You Will Begin Taking Social Security

The longer you wait, the greater your monthly income could be.

You can start taking Social Security at age 62; however, this is not considered "full" retirement age and you'll only get 75% of your potential monthly benefit, according to the Social Security Administration. If you want the maximum Social Security payout, the "full" benefit age is 66 or 67 (depending on if you were born in 1955 or later than 1960, respectively).

If you are having difficulty with your income, it might make sense to begin taking Social Security benefits when you can. Even though you'll have smaller monthly benefits, you'll at least have some income, and you can leave more of your investment nest egg to grow, rather than withdrawing quite as much right now.

For those with larger nest eggs, it makes sense to draw down your tax-advantaged accounts now, reducing their size and waiting to begin taking Social Security benefits. Unless you have a Roth IRA, you will be required to take minimum withdrawals from your tax-advantaged accounts when you reach 70½. Since your required minimum distributions will be based on the size of your nest egg (as well as other factors), reducing your nest egg now can have benefits later.

3. Figure out How You Will Spend Your Time

Many seniors experience declining mental and physical health as a result of social isolation after they quit their day jobs.

It's a good idea to keep active for hobbies, continuing education, volunteer work, travel or even part-time employment, depending on what appeals to you. In many cases, your options are dependent on your resources. If your nest egg is insufficient, some type of employment is probably necessary even during "retirement."

Remember: It's never too late to plan for retirement. If you are in your 60s and don't have a retirement game plan, it's time to put away more money in retirement accounts and make a Social Security plan. If you're still falling short of your goals, find a part-time job you can fall in love with to pick up the slack -- or keep the job throughout "retirement" if you'd like.

By making a few simple life changes, it's not hard to free up hundreds or even thousands of dollars over a year that you could use to build an emergency fund, invest toward your retirement, or pay off debt as you continue your journey toward financial freedom.

Here are Three More Ideas to Help Reach Your Financial Independence:

  1. Free yourself from credit card debt this year. Learn how to pay 0% on your balances for up to 21 months in The 4 Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfers.
  2. Pay off your mortgage to free up an extra $1,000 to $2,000 every month. Check out 3 Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage 15 Years Early.
  3. Shrink and eliminate your car payments. If you're paying 6% APR or more, it's time to know The Top 3 Reasons to Refinance Your Auto Loan.