Four Strategies to Help You in Retirement
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January 20, 2017
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Four Strategies to Help You in Retirement

If you’re nearing retirement, you may be starting to think about ways to conserve your income and ensure your next egg lasts. Below are four strategies recommended by retirement expert, Steve Vernon. Over the last forty years, Vernon has worked as a consulting actuary assisting employers and workers with retirement issues. He has written five books on retirement planning. He has been a columnist at CBS MoneyWatch, and has performed research for the Stanford Center on Longevity. Vernon is in his 60’s now, and applies the strategies listed below to his own life.

Do Work You Enjoy

Do work that makes you happy.  For some, this means helping people or simply doing something that keeps you in contact with people you like. It doesn’t necessarily have to be what you did during your career when you were raising children and paying for college. However, earning enough to cover basic living expenses can make a big difference, and may allow you to delay collecting social security. It can also allow you to avoid dipping into your retirement accounts too soon, and letting them continue to grow until you’re required to start taking minimum distributions at age 70 ½.

Implement a Sound Retirement Income Strategy

Retirement can easily last anywhere from twenty to thirty years.  Therefore, an important part of any retirement plan is to have as many sources of guaranteed monthly income as possible. Guaranteed income could come from sources like pensions and social security, and can be used to cover basic living expenses like housing, food, transportation, utilities, and insurance. It’s also a good idea to use online planning tools and calculators. For example, a social security planner can help you identify the best strategy for you and your spouse to claim benefits. Some seniors find that a low-cost fixed monthly annuity is a good way to supplement their income. Vernon keeps the rest of his savings invested in his former employer’s 401(k), and then uses a conservative systematic withdrawal strategy to pay for discretionary expenses like travel, gifts, and hobbies.

Control Living Expenses

Careful budgeting can help you meet your needs while still living a comfortable lifestyle. Downsizing to a smaller, more manageable home is one way to reduce expenses. For example, by downsizing to a townhome, you can eliminate garden and structural maintenance expenses. Another way to manage living expenses is by keeping your cars if they’re in good condition, rather than replacing them on a regular basis. According to Vernon, “When we buy things, we’re aware they might need to last for the rest of our lives. We do our research before purchasing, and whenever possible, we wait for sales to make major purchases.”

Protect Against Unexpected Medical Expenses

Maintaining continuous health insurance is important. If something unexpected was to happen, and you were between insurance plans, the result could be financially devastating. Therefore, if you haven’t yet reached the age when you’re eligible for Medicare, and you’re no longer under your employer sponsored health plan, you may want to consider buying insurance through your state’s exchange. Something else you may want to think about is making arrangements for long-term care should the need arise in the future. Long-term care can be very expensive and can put a strain on your finances. As a result, Vernon says that he and his wife are keeping their home equity in reserve for this potential risk. Many seniors access their home equity through a reverse mortgage to help cover medical and other expenses. For those that are unfamiliar with this product, A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), commonly known as a reverse mortgage, is a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured loan.  A reverse mortgage enables seniors to access a portion of their home’s equity to obtain tax free2 funds without having to make monthly mortgage payments.3

If you’d like to learn more about how a reverse mortgage could help you, please use our Reverse Mortgage Calculator or call 800-218-1415.


1 6 Retirement Strategies from a Local Pro –, by Steve Vernon, 11/2/16

2 Consult your financial advisor and appropriate government agencies for any effect on taxes or government benefits.

3 You must live in the home as your primary residence, continue to pay required property taxes, homeowners insurance and maintain the home according to Federal Housing Administration requirements.

Author:  Meredith Manz