Inflation — as high as 17.5% on gas, 12.4% on groceries and 7.5% on rents — is damaging everyone’s finances, not least of whom are retirees and near-retirees.
Here are five steps from Kiplinger’s magazine to fight off inflation’s damage to your retirement savings so that you can retire comfortably.
1.) Conduct an in-depth budget analysis
Review everything you have spent in the last six months, as well as your earnings and any other income.
Break out fixed and variable expenses. Fixed costs are such things as mortgage, utilities, phone, cable and insurance. Variable expenses are for such things as travel, eating out, groceries, entertainment and the like.
This exercise might open your eyes to disproportionate spending and help you set some goals.
Then, when you compare your expenses against your income, you will be able to see if you are running a surplus or a deficit. If your budget is in the red, that should tell you that you need to make adjustments.
If you are in the black, you might want to put that money to good use by paying off debt, creating an emergency savings fund, setting aside a savings account for a rainy day or adding more to your retirement savings.
2.) Have a cash cushion so your investments can keep growing
It is tempting — especially for older, retired or risk-averse investors — to yank money from investments when markets are volatile, but that, investment planners say, is exactly the wrong time to redeem shares. (Even for retirees, who planners are increasingly advising to remain at least somewhat invested in the stock market due to increasing longevity.)
A better strategy, financial planners say, is to have cash on hand for daily bills, so that you remain invested and can ride out bumpy roads.
That should be paired, of course, will a fully diversified portfolio, they add.
3.) Delay claiming Social Security benefits to get a bigger check
While the Social Security Administration lets workers or beneficiaries apply for benefits between the ages of 62 and 70, financial planners nearly all agree it is always better to delay those payments until the oldest possible age in order to get a bigger check.
Of course, if you decide to begin taking Social Security payments until age 67 or age 70, you will either have to remain in the workforce until that time, or put enough money aside to bridge that gap.
4.) Downsize and relocate
If ever the term “live within your means” resonated among people, it possibly resonates the most with the older crowd.
If your children have flown the coop and you have an empty nest, or if you have retired and no longer need to rely on commuting for work to a city or metropolis, consider moving to smaller living quarters in a more affordable region of the country.
In fact, given how harmful inflation has been to people’s budgets over the past year, Kiplinger’s suggests downsizing might even be a consideration for those in mid or late career.
5.) Consider inflation-protected annuities
White inflation-protected annuities will give you a lower payout than traditional annuities, they can be a lifesaver for retirees on a fixed income.
Inflation-protected annuities that will give you guaranteed fixed payments for a set period or for life, and their payments are typically indexed to rises in cost of living.
“We don’t know when inflation will be brought under control, but it’s always an important factor to consider in retirement planning—and something to adjust to when you’re in retirement,” Kiplinger’s concludes. “Be proactive as much as possible, because there are numerous actions you can take to mitigate the effects [of inflation] and not let it upend your retirement plans.”
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