6 ways to make your retirement savings last

Meghan Streit

Created date

September 25th, 2012

Thanks to advances in medical care and a focus on maintaining good health, many of us can expect to live into our 90s and beyond.

However, many of today's retirees designed their savings plans when life expectancies were much lower. As a result, an increasing number of people fear that they will outlive their savings. If you re one of them, you re not alone, and read on for six strategies to preserve and grow your nest egg so you can enjoy your retirement to the fullest for many years to come. Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to stretching your savings, so always consult with your financial advisor about whether one of these strategies could work for you.

  1. Invest.
    Conventional wisdom says you should de-risk your portfolio as you age. Jeff Reeves, editor of InvestorPlace.com, agrees, but he says some level of risk can help boost savings and generate income for retirees. I think there are some very responsible risks retired people can take, Reeves says. Dividend-paying stocks, for example, can provide a steady stream of income. Reeves recommends the S&P 500 Dividend, which are stocks like Walgreen Co. that have followed a policy of increasing dividends every year for at least 25 consecutive years. He also points retired investors to Triple A bond funds that invest in very fiscally responsible municipalities. Reeves says those bonds are relatively safe but generate higher returns than CDs.

  2. Downsize.
    Housing is usually the biggest expense in anyone's budget. That is why Steve Gaito, director of My Retirement Education Center (myretirement-edu.com), a North Carolina-based organization that offers classes about preparing for retirement, recommends moving to a smaller home. He reminds people who want to hang on to the family home: It s a whole lot cheaper to rent a hotel room for a few weeks at Christmas than to maintain a large house.

  3. Delay.
    If you wait to claim social security, you ll get larger payments for the rest of your life. Gaito says not to worry about the system failing. As long as government has the ability to tax, they have the ability to write those checks.

  4. Work.
    If you re going to be retired for 30 years, you may grow tired of golf and bridge. Gaito says a part-time job can be a great way to bring in some extra cash and explore a new interest.

  5. Reverse.
    In certain situations, Gaito says a reverse mortgage could provide a safety net in retirement. There is a traditional [reverse mortgage] that acts like an annuity, he says. And then, there is a smart reverse mortgage that acts like an equity line.

  6. Insure.
    Pamela Yellen, author of Bank on Yourself: The Life-Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future, recommends dividend-paying whole life insurance policies for retirees who want the peace of mind of a guaranteed payment. Some insurance agents are reluctant to sell the policies because they yield less commission, so look for an agent who puts your interests first, Yellen says.