Is it Too Late? Can I Live on Social Security?
First it is important to determine how much income you will need to live comfortably in retirement before we can evaluate if you will have enough. Carefully track your current spending and regular expenses and write them down. Don’t forget about bills that may not be paid every month, such as car insurance, car taxes, real estate taxes, holiday gifts, etc. You can find budget sheets on many sites on the internet to help assure you are not missing anything. Once you are comfortable that the list is accurate, prepare a second budget outlining what you will need in retirement. For example, not only will you not have the income from employment but you may also have 40 hours a week or more of time on your hands that you now spend at work. How will you spend that time and what will it cost? You may need to increase certain expenses such as entertainment, and decrease others such as the cost to travel to and from work. Once you are comfortable with the amount you will need, it is time to see where that income will come from. First go to the web site for social security and determine the amount you can expect to receive at the age you plan to retire. Then research current and past employer retirement plan statements if any, or if necessary contact the benefits department of each employer to see what pension or other benefits you may be eligible for. After adding your social security benefit to any retirement plan benefits you are eligible for, subtract that amount from the income needed for your comfortable retirement. If the number matches or if the income exceeds the need, you are all set! If it does not, then there are a few options on what to do next.
- Carefully comb your current budget to see what you can reduce to allow you to save money toward retirement. If you do not make the adjustment now, you may be forced to adjust it later when you can no longer work due to health or other issues you cannot control.
- Consider a part-time job to supplement your current income. All earnings should be saved towards retirement. 3) Adjust your planned retirement age to a more realistic one. Remember, you cannot control what happened in the past. But you do have control over what you do from now until retirement. What you do with your finances from this day forward will determine the retirement you will be able to have for the rest of your life. And, you will not have a chance to do it over.