Most of us know what we need to do to be better prepared for retirement. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it will be easy or even possible to implement our good intentions. Wise retirement moves are hard to make, even when you know they will improve your nest egg. Here are a few things that will boost your retirement finances that might be difficult to accomplish.
Shift to more conservative investments as you approach retirement. The role of bonds in a portfolio is volatility dampening rather than returns. I know that less volatility will make me more comfortable as I get closer to retirement, but it's hard to overcome the fear of adding bonds to my portfolio with interest rates so low. I currently have about 20 percent of my investments allocated to bonds and will need to increase this substantially by retirement. Shifting more of my portfolio to bonds will help me to avoid losing sleep in retirement because of stock market volatility and decrease the risk of my investment portfolio significantly dropping in value. I intend to move to more high quality bonds and keep rebalancing.
Delay Social Security. The higher you can get your guaranteed retirement income sources including Social Security, the less anxiety you will feel during your golden years. That's why one of the best ways to increase portfolio longevity is to delay collecting Social Security. By waiting, your monthly payments will increase and the bigger amount you eventually collect will adjust with inflation for the rest of your life. Since I probably won't need Social Security checks to make ends meet, waiting drastically reduces the chances that I'll run out of money if I end up living a long life. It can be incredibly difficult to resist the checks until you are older, but I will do my best to wait because it's logically one of the best retirement decisions I'll make.
Consider single premium immediate annuities. Another way to create dependable income is to hand over a lump sum to an insurance company in exchange for guaranteed income. Whether you will win out mathematically depends on how long you live, but the guaranteed income also brings peace of mind that far exceeds what a stock and bond portfolio can provide. My biggest concern is whether the insurance company will go bankrupt, so I will spread out the risks by buying these immediate annuities with a few different companies.
Take advantage of income opportunities. Another way to ease your anxiety about retirement is to reduce your annual withdrawal rate by increasing your income. You might be able to take on a part-time job or temporary assignment to make extra income. You may also be able to make money without a formal commitment to a job by selling your stuff, better managing your assets and investments and making use of a cash back credit card and sign up bonuses for new financial accounts. There are plenty of ways to make more money if you have the time to look.
Try to lower your spending by seeking out the best deal. You may be able to improve your retirement cash flow by working on the spending side of the equation in retirement. When I'm no longer tied to a job and raising two young kids, I can travel more during the off-season, spend more time analyzing deals and waste less money on convenience. While not everyone wants to spend their time looking for ways to save money, cutting your expenses will deliver the ultimate prize: freedom. If you spend less each month you can lower your retirement withdrawal rate, which will help your nest egg to last longer. The peace of mind and freedom you gain by having lower expenses can be worth the effort.
David Ning is the founder of MoneyNing.com.
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report