How to Create Retirement Income

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At Advanced Retirement Strategies, we can’t tell you how often we hear our clients in the Salt Lake City area discuss their fear of running out of money in retirement, which is why we’ve compiled this list of strategies for how to create retirement income.

Thankfully, successful retirement involves more than just socking away cash and spending as little as possible. After all, retirement means a halting of full-time work, not a halting of earning income. With a few tricks and tips, you can give yourself a leg up in retirement through social security, investing, and even a little side work here and there. Here’s how to get started.

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Be Strategic with Social Security

Social security is the lifeblood of many retirees, but not everyone takes full advantage of the rules of the program. For starters, you want to work at least 35 full years in order to receive the maximum potential benefit. The Social Security Administration calculates benefits based on your 35 highest earning years of employment, so if you only work for 32 years, you’ll have your maximum benefit slashed. If you’re about to retire, pause to reflect on how many years you’ve worked and how much you earned during those years. An online social security calculator can be helpful in this process.

The saying ‘good things come to those who wait’ definitely applies to Social Security, too. You can begin taking social security benefits as early as age 62, but there’s a catch – you’ll get about 30% less than you would if you waited until full retirement age (which is either 65, 66, or 67 depending on your year of birth). If you wait until you reach full retirement age, you’ll receive 100% of your potential benefit. Of course, waiting even longer can bring your benefits over 100%.  For example, if your Full Retirement Age is 67 but you wait until age 70 to begin taking benefits, you’ll receive 136% of your maximum benefit – an extra 12% for each extra year you waited.

Additionally, social security can net extra benefits for married couples if you understand the system. If you’re married to a higher earner, consider collecting benefits on their salary first and then switching to your own benefits once you reach age 70.

Optimize Your Investments

 Prudent investing is one of the keys to a happy retirement. Putting money away in a tax-sheltered account like a 401(k) or IRA is a great way to reap the benefits of the stock market without Uncle Sam hitting you too hard when you eventually ring the register and cash in your investments.

But tax savings aren’t the only reason to optimize your investments, especially if you want to continue investing after retirement. One method of investment optimization is the bucket strategy, where investments fit into different ‘buckets’ based on risk and the timeline of use. This strategy uses strategic asset allocation and a deliberate withdrawal rate to maintain and create retirement income.

Commonly, retirement funds are divided into three buckets:

Bucket 1: Short-Term Investments and Savings

The first bucket is the short-term bucket, where funds can be easily tapped and the risk of loss is low or non-existent. This bucket holds your guaranteed retirement income sources and enough cash to cover any unexpected expenses or gaps between your guaranteed income and desired income.

A high-interest savings account is a common vehicle here. Although the interest rates on savings accounts often struggle to match inflation, retirees will use these funds in the near-future, so inflation is of lesser concern.

Other examples for this short-term bucket would be money market mutual funds or a Certificate of Deposit ladder, where you buy CDs at different intervals to prevent all short-term funds from being locked up. The short-term bucket should be liquid and low risk and you want to have at least a couple years worth of money in it at all times.

Bucket 2: Intermediate Term Investments

The second bucket should take more risk than the first bucket. Over time (usually every three to six years), you’ll use much of the profits earned here to refill the first bucket.

Your second bucket should comprise medium risk assets, like bonds, low risk ETFs or mutual funds, and (possibly, depending on your risk tolerance) blue chip dividend paying stocks. These assets produce returns greater than inflation, which is why they’re used to help restock the first bucket. These investments do carry some risk, but this bucket is unlikely to see wild gyrations.

Bucket 3: Longer Term Investments

If your personal risk tolerance prevents you from adding stocks to the second bucket, then the third bucket is where you’ll be placing all your stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs. Bucket 3 is the risk taking bucket, where high growth assets like stocks can be utilized to maximize market returns. Bucket 3 can be a wild ride at times – individual stocks and ETFs are prone to market gyrations. But since you won’t need to access this bucket in the near future, you have the flexibility to outwait any dips in the market and target a higher rate of return.

Continue to Earn During Retirement

Retirement doesn’t have to mean a complete cessation of work. When you retire, it means your time is now malleable. You can use your days however you see fit. And if you want to learn new ways to earn extra cash and foster a feeling of productivity while still living the retired lifestyle, you’ll have no shortage of choices.

Freelance Work

Job boards like Upwork, Fiverr, and Moonlight.com have contract work available for many different disciplines and skill sets.

Consulting

Retiring from work doesn’t mean losing the knowledge and experience that made you a valuable employee in the first place. Consulting work allows you to leverage your work experience without committing to a full-time schedule.

Side Gigs

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, GrubHub, and AirBNB have made it easy for anyone with a smartphone to harness a part-time side gig. It’s certainly not a new career, but working a few hours per week driving for Uber or delivering for DoorDash can put some extra cash in your pocket while maintaining time flexibility.

Real Estate / Passive Income

‘Let your money work for you’ is one of the oldest lines in personal finance, but with each passing decade it continues to ring true. In this instance, creating passive income from rental properties or something like an Etsy or Shopify store can greatly enhance your retirement income without the hassle of working long hours. One of the most popular passive income strategies is starting a blog – something anyone with a wealth of life experiences could excel at.

Conclusion

Running out of money in retirement is a visceral fear for many people. Even if you max out your 401(k) and cut down unnecessary spending, there’s still the threat of the unknown hanging over your retirement years. Developing a retirement income plan can transform your retirement into the stress-free golden years you’ve dreamed about.

The team at Advanced Retirement Strategies has decades of combined experience helping clients transition into and through retirement. Using sound investment strategies, extensive social security knowledge, and calculated tax strategies, Advanced Retirement Strategies provides resources and services to residents of Utah who are eager to make the most of their retirement years.

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