Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Retirement Plan Gone Awry: What Do I Do Now?

By Olivia Sandham 

Type the word “retirement” into any search engine and you’ll be directed toward hundreds of web pages, articles, and videos presenting advice on how to save and invest for your retirement.  But what if you’ve already been retired for several years, you are already collecting Social Security, and after taking a closer look, you begin to realize that you will soon be outliving your retirement fund?  You may have planned ahead by saving and investing for decades pre-retirement, but somehow it simply hasn’t been enough to cover your expenses post-retirement.  Although this can be an overwhelming realization, there are several options available, many of which do not require financial expertise.  With a little motivation and “Thinking Outside the Box”, you can remain financially secure throughout retirement.

Option 1:  Re-enter the workforce.  Although you may not be as energetic as you once were, consider finding simple work for modest pay.  Think Outside the Box:  This job does not have to be a traditional position.  For example, parents are happy to pay for a reliable person to watch their children, and grown children are happy to pay for a reliable person to help tend to aging parents.  If you work in a more traditional position, you might be entitled to free services or discounts which could work in your favor during retirement as well.

Option 2:  Offer your knowledge or skills.  After decades of working you most likely picked up a few tips and tricks along the way, which someone may be seeking.  Advertise with your local newspaper offering your services as an informal mentor or advisor in fields in which you have some expertise.  Think Outside the Box:  If you don’t have money to spend on a newspaper ad, ask your local shopping markets and retailers if you can post a sign or flyer for free.  And of course, spread the word with your family and friends.

Option 3:  Prioritize your spending.  It’s easier to stay financially viable during retirement if you are paying attention to your expenses.  Look for deals on needed items, lessen finances spent on clothing, entertainment, and travel, and watch out for spending too much on loved ones.  Think Outside the Box:  Some not-so obvious changes in spending patterns that can make a difference during retirement.  These include using liquid forms of payment (cash, check, debit card) rather than racking up interest bills on credit cards, buying generic rather than name brands, and doing any necessary shopping at church/charity stores.  Any of these adjustments can certainly add up in your favor over time.

Option 4:  Turn your assets into cash.  You may own a home, car, valuables, or life insurance policies which could be converted into liquid assets.  Think Outside the Box:  Converting to liquid assets doesn’t always mean the asset has to be sold.  A reverse mortgage may allow you to withdraw equity from your home without having to moveAlso, consider the possibility of renting out a room in your house, or even consider renting your entire house and living with friends or relatives, or in a modest apartment.

Option 5:  Re-invest and re-grow your nest egg.  Once you follow the previous suggestions, you might start to find extra finances available.  Rather than spending or only saving these funds, stay on track with what you have been doing and look into ways to reinvest your small amounts of income.  Just because you are retired does not mean you can’t continue to grow your nest egg.  Think Outside the Box:  Traditional thinking says the older we are, the less risky our investments should be.  However, since you do not have as big of a nest egg as you did years ago, investing with a little more risk tolerance might create more growth.

Option 6:  Get by with a little help from your friends.  It can be tough to ask people for help, since most of us like to feel independent, and having to explain that we fear outliving our savings can seem embarrassing.  However, it is very likely that you have a lot of people in your life that would be happy to help, even for a short period of time.  They can be friends or family.  This is not the time to be stubborn with pride; rather this is the time to be smart and reach out to others.  Think Outside the Box:  Look into retirement resources and services available within your community, such as services provided at your local church or within a nearby retirement community.

Option 7:  Get in touch with an expert.  Expert financial advisors might take a peek into your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses and give you a better picture of what changes you need to make.  Experts may also be able to help you make adjustments in your investments or assets which you may not have otherwise been aware were options for you.  Think Outside the Box:  If you don’t have the funds to seek ongoing expert advice, at the very least try to find a non-profit firm or government agency who would be willing to offer a short analysis for free.  It doesn’t hurt to make a phone call and ask.  And as always, make sure to utilize your network of friends and family to see if they know anyone who might be willing to help.  Good luck!


  1. You can also apply to some work from home jobs where you won't need to work 8 hours straight.

    1. You are absolutely right, that is another option! Thank you for your addition.