The 8 Best Retirement Income Strategies

Retirement involves leaving the workforce and living on a fixed income for an unknown period. You must make sure your nest egg lasts as long as possible to avoid running out of money.

Because everyone’s circumstance is unique, retirement income options will change. Here are eight basic tactics retirees use to get the most out of their savings.

1. The bucket approach

The bucket method divides retirement savings into three buckets according to your needs. Its goal is to balance investment growth and simple access to your assets. You’ll use this bucket for the following several years to cover your emergency fund and large purchases. You should keep these assets liquid in a high-yield savings account to use them as needed without being concerned about market fluctuations.

The second bucket contains funds you want to spend for the next three to ten years. Put these monies into more secure assets, such as bonds or certificates of deposit (CDs). As the funds in your first bucket deplete, you may sell or withdraw money from assets in your second bucket to replace them.

The third bucket contains money you won’t spend for at least a decade. It is best to place this money in stocks and other investments likely to grow in value. Sell some of these assets regularly and reinvest the proceeds in the safer investments you’ve picked for your second bucket.

2. Systematic withdrawals

If you choose the systematic withdrawal strategy, your first year of retirement will be spent withdrawing a fixed percentage of the nest egg and gradually raising this amount every year following to account for inflation. You may have heard of the 4% rule, which states that you should restrict your annual withdrawals to 4% of your nest fund.

It may be helpful in some instances, but it has limits. The 4% rule includes assumptions about how your assets will perform and how long your retirement will last – and these forecasts aren’t always correct. If your assets suffer a significant loss, you may need to reduce your withdrawal rate, but if they perform well, you may be able to increase it. You may use the 4% guideline as a starting point.

3. Annuities

In exchange for guaranteed monthly payments for life, you enter into an annuity contract with an insurance company.

Annuities are classified into two types: 

Immediate annuities: in which you give the insurance company a large sum in exchange for monthly checks that begin immediately. 

Delayed annuities: in which you make payments to the firm, but it does not begin paying you for a number of years.

Annuities, in addition to Social Security, can provide a guaranteed source of retirement income, but they are not suitable for everyone. They may have hefty fees and may not produce as great a return as other investments. They can also be tough to get out of if you’re thinking changes later. Consider all available criteria while evaluating if an annuity is right for you.

4. Increasing Social Security Benefits

Social Security is a guaranteed source of income in retirement. Still, your earnings determine the amount you get during your working years and the age at which you begin claiming benefits. If you wish to get the entire amount based on your work record, you must wait until you reach your age of full retirement (FRA), which, depending on your birth year, is between 66 and 67.

Starting early diminishes your benefit per check. Because of this, if you start at 62, you will only receive 70% of your benefit if your FRA is 67. If your FRA is 66, you will receive 75% of your benefit. However, if you live a relatively long time, delaying benefits may provide you with more money. If you postpone payments, you may be eligible for 124% of your planned benefit at 70. 

5. Earning a living in retirement

During retirement, you may be able to work part-time to supplement your retirement income. This is an intelligent technique if you’re concerned about running out of money too soon, and it may also assist with retirement boredom. If you don’t want to work, you might seek other methods to generate money in retirement, such as buying and renting out houses or investing in a local business.

Remember that you will have to pay taxes on these kinds of income, and if you do not have a consistent paycheck, you must remember to set away this cash yourself. Consider keeping money for taxes in a separate savings account, so you don’t spend it unintentionally.

6. Tax effectiveness

The government taxes various savings differently, and understanding them is critical to keeping more of your money. In a Roth IRA, you can withdraw tax-free when you are at least 59 1/2 years old and have owned your tax-deferred retirement fund for five years. In a conventional IRA, depending on your income, you may have to pay long-term capital gains taxes on your earnings in taxable brokerage accounts.

You may save money on taxes by keeping track of your tax bracket each year and relying more on Roth savings as you near the top of your bracket. If you have a lower-income year, you might use a Roth conversion to convert part of your tax-deferred savings into Roth savings, allowing you to avoid paying taxes on those distributions later. You should also be aware of the required minimum distributions (RMDs) once you reach the age of 72 since failing to withdraw enough yearly may result in a penalty.

7.  Account for medical expenses

Health savings accounts (HSAs) are primarily intended to cover medical bills for people of all ages, but they can also be used for nonmedical needs. If you’re under 65, you’ll have to pay the penalty. Still, once you reach that age, you can utilize the money exactly like a standard IRA, with usual taxes on withdrawals and the extra benefits of tax-free medical distributions and no RMDs.

Only people with high-deductible health insurance plans (deductibles of $1,400 or more for an individual or $2,800 or more for a family in 2020 and 2021) are eligible to contribute to an HSA. In 2020, individuals can donate up to $3,550, and families can contribute up to $7,100. In 2021, these restrictions will increase to $3,600 and $7,200, respectively.

8.  Downsizing

Downsizing lowers your living expenditures, allowing your current funds to stretch further. You may either downsize to a smaller home, relocate to a more inexpensive neighborhood, or do both. If you do not choose to do so, you may be able to offset some of your living expenditures by renting out extra space.

Personal preference is significant here, but you should also examine whether it is financially feasible. If housing prices in your neighborhood have risen since you purchased your home, relocation may not save you any money.

Although not all of the ideas outlined here may appeal to you, using a handful will help your retirement funds last a little longer. By thinking about which ones are right for you, you may make a move into retirement a bit easier.