10 ways to retire even if you think you haven’t saved enough

If you think you haven’t saved enough for a truly secure retirement, think again. The impossible can become possible with any of these 10 creative ways to retire.

ways to retire

You see, saving hard all your life and then quitting work to play bridge is only one way to retire. And odds are it’s not your way.

There are hundreds if not thousands of different levers that can be used to achieve financial independence in your fifties, sixties, and beyond.

Here are 10 ways to retire, even without enough savings:

1. Take a mini retirement year or a gap year

If you’re emotionally or psychologically ready to retire, but your finances just aren’t quite there, you can explore taking a mini-retirement — an extended (3 to 12 months) vacation from work.

Many people approaching retirement age find that an extended break from work is enough to recharge and reinvigorate. The trick is convincing your employer to let you take that precious vacation. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, unpaid sabbatical leave is officially offered by only 12% of employers and only 4% of employers offer paid leave programs.

However, it may be helpful to explore your individual situation with the HR manager.

Leaving your job with the hope of finding a similar job upon your return is another option. However, many people who take a retirement gap year actually discover a renewed career and new passion during their mini-retirement.

If this idea interests you, learn more about taking a vacation, mini-retirement year, or gap year. Or, model a gap year in your retirement plan with NewRetirement Planner.

2. Prioritize what’s important and cut expenses drastically

Living frugally will never be easy, but it can be very rewarding to stay focused only on the things that really matter to you.

Most financial advisors assume that we need to maintain spending habits for life when we retire. While this is true of most of us, many people redefine themselves in retirement and can significantly reduce spending—one of the best ways to retire gracefully.

Retirement is an excellent time to take stock of what you have and what you want. If you know what is most important to you, you can set goals and figure out a way to achieve your highest priority.

some advices:

Look carefully at your current spending: When you’ve determined what’s important to you, assess your current budget. Take a really detailed look at everything you spend money on – many people are surprised to learn how much little things that don’t really matter in the long run can add up over the course of a month.

Create detailed forecasts: Use NewRetirement Planner to create a detailed budget for projected spending. When you identify your needs and how they will vary over time, you may discover that you are better off than you thought.

Cut costs: Find out how to cut big costs (getting rid of your car can result in big savings) and small costs. Get rid of anything and everything that isn’t your highest priority.

Lifestyle assessment: Take a look at where you live, who you spend time with and what you do on a daily basis. If these things don’t align with what’s important to you, make changes that can save you money and help you live a more meaningful life.

Remind yourself of what’s important: Write down your retirement priorities and refer to them daily.

It can even be helpful to write a list each day about what you want to achieve and why.

These simple tasks can help you stay on track.

3. Or spend more! (just not every month)


Yes, you heard me correctly. Maybe you can spend more in retirement and still have a secure future.

You see, many people plan for retirement thinking that they will continue to spend the same amount forever in the future as they do now. However, that probably wouldn’t be what would happen.

You may need and want to spend more after you stop working when you’re relatively young and want to travel or take up new hobbies. But your spending will likely decrease as you get older. (Many people follow a more spending pattern immediately after retirement, gradually reducing spending until it approaches longevity when long-term care or medical costs inflate your expenses.)

Thinking about the specifics of your retirement spending and giving yourself some room to spend more (maybe a little more) in certain years and less (maybe a lot less) at other times may enable you to retire sooner than you planned.

The NewRetirement Planner helps you think through a detailed budget for your future and you can change your total spending as well as your spending in individual categories to come up with reasonable expectations.

4. Think outside the box (Rethink Housing)

Many people don’t give much thought to their home when creating a retirement plan. However, your home is probably your single biggest expense. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, the cost of a home and home-related expenses account for about 43% of spending for those ages 65 to 74. Reducing this cost may be one of the best ways to retire safely.

Furthermore, if you own your home, it is also likely your most valuable asset and can be used to help fund your retirement expenses.

Rent out your house or a room in your house: Home sharing is becoming more and more popular. And Airbnb’s popularity has absolutely exploded. Renting a room in your current home (or your entire home when you travel)—either on a permanent or short-term basis—can be a great way to help fund retirement because it uses an existing resource to generate money. Learn how to become an AirBnB host here.

Downsizing: If reducing your housing costs and releasing your equity works for you, downsizing might be a great option. When you downsize you are selling your existing home and buying or renting something less expensive. It could be a smaller home or a residence in another community. Learn more in this complete guide to downsizing.

Going too small: There is downsizing and then there are tiny houses. If you think you can live in 500 square feet or less, a tiny home can simplify your lifestyle and finances. And did you know that about 40 percent of small homes are occupied by elderly people? Is a Tiny House the Big Solution to Your Retirement Plan?

Getting a reverse mortgage: A reverse mortgage is a loan against your home equity. However, unlike traditional mortgages, you don’t have to pay back the money borrowed as long as you live in the home. If you want to stay in your current home, a reverse mortgage is an interesting way to get rid of ongoing monthly mortgage payments and have cash to use for retirement expenses. More about reverse mortgages.

Hit the road: A few retirees have sold most of their possessions – including the house – and hit the road. Can you imagine living in a motorhome or houseboat and traveling during retirement?

5. Watch for big opportunities

Besides housing, taxes, debt, and Social Security are probably your biggest levers for doing retirement with inadequate savings.

religion: Imagine if you could spend the money you currently use to pay down your debt each month! Being debt-free does cost you a bit upfront, but it’s essential to being financially free in the long run. Paying interest on debt is like setting money on fire. Get rid of your debts as soon as possible.

Here are 7 reasons why you should pay off every penny before you retire…

(However, don’t worry too much if you’re carrying a mortgage as long as it’s at a low fixed interest rate.)

taxes: Being tax savvy with your retirement plans can mean more accurate forecasts and more money in your accounts. From where you live to income planning, there are many different ways you can reduce your tax burden. Our NewRetirement Planner will help you spot opportunities.

Social security: So, what can you do with that extra $100,000? I bet a lot! Waiting for Social Security to kick in could get you that kind of money.

The longer you wait for benefits to start, the more you’ll receive per month and that can add up to an additional $100,000 at your disposal – depending on how long you live.

6. Find work that resembles play

You don’t want to work – work is not a “retirement”. However, maybe you enjoy cooking, woodshop, or spending time with dogs. There are more and more ways to make money from these types of hobbies.

If it’s something you enjoy doing, chances are you can find a way to make money for it.

Explore 50 more passive income ideas!

7. Retire abroad

The United States, especially certain parts, are very expensive places to live. Retiring abroad can provide adventure and a significant reduction in the cost structure of your retirement.

There are affordable places to live all over the world—places where the climate may be a little warmer, where housing may cost a little (or a lot) less, and health care may be more affordable.

But is it realistic to think that you will be able to spend your retirement years in an exotic place? Not only is it sensible to retire abroad, but the number of retirees who actually do so has doubled since 2006. What about the Riker? They do it for a lot less money than you might think, some as low as $40 a day!


8. Don’t schedule a transition into retirement

Once upon a time, a long time ago… we made a date and planned a big retirement party. She went to work one day and then never came back.

These days, more of us have a different view of our retirement date. Today’s retirees transition into retirement by either working part-time for a few years or finding a retirement job.

9. Stay healthy and make good insurance choices

Some retirees spend more in their lifetime on out-of-pocket health care costs than they earn in Social Security. You can do a lot to lower these costs by staying healthy and choosing complementary Medicare coverage carefully.

Shopping for the best supplemental Medicare plan should be done every year. Plans change. Your health needs to change.

Here are 12 ways to save on healthcare costs in retirement.

10. Create a detailed retirement plan and make smart retirement decisions

Creating a retirement plan may not seem like one of the most “creative” ways to retire.

However, only 30% of Americans have a long-term financial plan that includes savings, investment goals, and an outline for their retirement funds. So if you have a plan, you are at least unique – if not creative!

What’s the good news for planners? Retirees who underwent a rigorous “how to retire” planning process reported greater satisfaction with retirement.

NewRetirement Planner makes it easy to create a detailed plan and discover ways to retire safely. Beyond these “creative” ideas—find out how delaying starting Social Security or optimizing investments can give you a better future. Start by entering some basic information and getting some initial feedback on where you stand.

Then you can add more details and get an accurate estimate of how much you need.

Best of all, you can try out an infinite number of scenarios. See how downsizing, a retirement job, or cutting expenses will affect your finances. Forbes calls this system “a new approach to retirement planning.”

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