With times as tough as they've been in recent years, it's never been more important to keep your personal finances in good shape. Yet despite concerns that the personal finance industry has a dark side, the indisputable fact remains that by taking action to manage your money, you can make the best of whatever financial situation you face.
Throughout this week, we'll be taking a close look at particular things you can do to shore up your finances. Each day, we'll focus on a different age group and the issues that affect them the most. Today, let's begin by addressing the growing group of those in retirement.
The special challenges facing retirees Entering retirement is the biggest financial adjustment that most people ever have to make. In an instant, you go from having a stable, secure paycheck to living on nothing but Social Security, perhaps a company pension payment if you're lucky, and whatever you've managed to save over the course of a career. With those fixed resources, you have to figure out how to make ends meet right now while also ensuring your money will last potentially decades into the future.
As tough as that sounds, it's not an impossible task. Here are five ideas you need to follow up on:
Idea 1: Get your Social Security right. Social Security is quickly becoming the most important income source for retirees, so you want to make sure you make the most of it. Although the temptation to take benefits as early as possible can be overwhelming, delaying your Social Security will boost your monthly payments once you do start taking them. If you're married, keep in mind that your choice potentially has an impact on your spouse as well.
Add the impact of your other investments and income sources as well as taxes, and the thought process for choosing the best Social Security option gets complicated fast. But by following tips like these, you can put yourself in the best position to reap maximum benefits for the rest of your life.
Idea 2: Invest for income and growth. Retirees have learned the hard way that getting income can be a challenge. With rates on bank CDs and bonds at low levels, retirees have had to stretch to get the income they need, buying dividend stocks and high-yield bonds over safer income investments. ETFs Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (NYSEARCA:VYM) and Pimco Total Return Bond have become hugely popular in part because of their appeal to income-hungry retirees.