10 Financial Tips for a Secure Middle-Class Retirement

10 Financial Tips for a Secure Middle-Class Retirement

Growing limited savings over decades of retirement can be a daunting financial challenge for many middle-class Americans, but strategic planning in key areas like Social Security, health care, and taxes can have a big impact on the sustainability of your income.

Leading financial gurus have provided us with tips on how to get the most of your money as you age.

Consider working longer to Pad Savings

Nearly 60% of retirees regret not working longer to take advantage of their longevity, according to Catherine Tierney, CFA, CFP, and senior retirement strategist at Edward Jones & Co. A larger savings cushion. Many say they should have worked at least 10 years longer.

“Deferring or working in retirement can allow you to earn more income and accumulate more retirement savings,” she said.

Working part-time or phasing into retirement allows many seniors to stay engaged in work and cover expenses while pursuing their goals. “It can provide for a longer and more financially secure retirement,” Tierney said.

Optimizing your Social Security claiming strategy

Dominic James Murray, an independent financial advisor and CEO of Cameron James, said the decision of when to claim Social Security benefits has a significant impact on your monthly income. “Delaying these benefits can lead to a significant increase in monthly income,” he says.

While health or financial hardships may necessitate filing for Social Security benefits early, Murray explains that “for those in good health, the increased benefits from delaying can substantially add up over a longer retirement period,” and advises his clients on optimizing their benefits.

Determine your application age based on your personal health prognosis and life expectancy to maximize your total lifetime payout.

Incorporate an annuity

Murray says annuities can create “an additional lifetime income source for you and your spouse in retirement.” He said retirees should talk to their advisers about whether it would be beneficial to supplement their retirement and Social Security payments with an annuity, especially since rising interest rates are now offering attractive benefits.

Creating multi-tiered income streams is a good way to reduce the risk of running out of cash.

Make Roth Savings a Priority

Murray said Roth retirement accounts can boost your income because withdrawals are generally not taxed. “One dollar contributed to a Roth account will result in more retirement income than one dollar contributed to a traditional retirement account,” he said.

Although Roth contributions don’t minimize your current taxes as much as tax-free accounts, this is a big advantage because withdrawals from Roth accounts are tax-free after you reach retirement age.

Accelerate Savings from a Young Age

Citing a study by Edward Jones, Tierney explained: “On average, retirees start saving for retirement at age 38, but they should have started compounding sooner, she said.” Even small savings can dramatically increase your assets over the years.

“For someone contributing $700 a month and earning 6% annually, starting a decade earlier could more than double the amount they are able to withdraw from their investment portfolio at 65,” Tierney said.

Maintain a cash stockpile

Murray advises keeping an emergency fund in an easily accessible, low-risk savings account to absorb unexpected costs and avoid having to sell investments during an economic downturn. He helps his clients determine the appropriate amount of cash to keep on hand based on factors such as monthly spending and expected expenses. This ensures funds are readily accessible when needed, without compromising long-term investment strategies.

Applying tax-efficient withdrawal strategies

“Implementing a tax-efficient withdrawal strategy can significantly enhance retirement income,” says Murray.

He helps his clients develop asset reduction plans to minimize their annual tax burden, for example by leveraging taxable investment accounts first to capture tax-deferred growth elsewhere. Understanding the special tax treatment of IRAs, 401(k)s, and other accounts is a key factor in optimizing your net income.

Reviewing and downsizing your budget

According to Murray, “managing expenses is an essential aspect of maximizing retirement income.”

He works with his clients to create a budget that reflects their desired retirement lifestyle while identifying potential savings opportunities. Murray adds that downsizing real estate holdings, if necessary, can also reduce current bills while freeing up assets.

Find a professional financial planner

Murray strongly believes that “professional financial advice is crucial for developing a personalized retirement income strategy.”

He said that to effectively optimize investments, taxes, healthcare and Social Security, an individual’s health outlook, expenses, family structure, savings and risk tolerance must be considered. Comprehensive advice from a financial advisor can help maximize income and support retirement goals.

Deferring medical expenses

Finally, Tierney advised deferring financing for medical expenses as much as possible by using retirement savings to fund them.

“Make sure you have a good supplemental policy to pick up where Medicare leaves off,” she said. And Tierney also said reviewing Medicare Advantage plans with drug coverage can help limit expensive gaps in coverage, conserving your hard-earned retirement dollars.

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