Most workers expect to retire around the age of 65. At that point, they’ll be ready to let their minds and bodies relax a little after decades of labor.

Although this is their goal, too many employees fail to prepare properly for the day they can retire. Many have no savings earmarked for retirement and very little general savings in their bank accounts.

“Nearly half of families have no retirement account savings at all,” the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) reported. The report also showed that about one in three people has less than $1,000 in savings.

Young people should take this information and use it as motivation to open a retirement account and spend the rest of their working life saving. When you reach retirement age, it’s a little late to read the writing on the wall.

Whether you can’t work or you’re simply ready to retire, there are ways to survive for the rest of your life without savings. Individuals depend on Social Security, children, and other benefits to help them weather the remaining years of their lives.

If that’s the case for you, here are some things you can do to maximize those benefits.

Delay Taking Social Security

Most people are eligible to receive social security benefits at the age of 62 if they have no retirement. However, if you’re still an able-bodied worker, consider postponing it for 10 more years. You’ll get a significantly higher payout if you wait until you’re older to cash in benefits.

If you’ve already filed for your social security benefits, it might not be too late to withdraw. You can file a withdrawal application within 12 months of your application so that you can wait a little longer to receive your benefits.

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Work Until You’re Out of Debt

If possible, don’t release your Social Security benefits until after you’ve eliminated high-interest debts, such as credit card balances and personal loans. Direct any extra money during the last years of your working life toward payment of debts, so you only have to focus on living expenses when you collect Social Security.

“Mortgages are often the biggest payment that people make on a monthly basis,” says Steven Thalheimer, a financial planner in Missisippi. “If you don’t have one, you have greater flexibility with your cash flow should something unexpected crop up.”

Invest

Not every investment is long term. There are short-term investment strategies that can help you develop a better income, even when you’re entering the later years of your life.

“Short-term investments, also known as temporary investments, are investments made with the expectation of a limited timeline — typically one to three years or less,” explains Michael Keenan of GoBankingRates.

“Unlike long-term investments, which can yield a greater return over time, short-term investments are typically lower-risk investments with a predictable, smaller return and highly liquid assets, such as a high-yield savings account.”

Some of the most common short-term investment options include:

  • High-interest savings accounts
  • Money market mutual funds
  • Certificates of Deposit (CD)
  • Short-term bonds
  • Peer-to-peer lending

You might also consider real estate, which uses leverage (someone else’s money) to make the bulk of your investment rather than your own. It can yield either monthly profits or a lump sum that will make retirement easier.

Downsize

Your expansive family home, fine car, and other luxuries might have served you well when you were working, but now that you’re retiring with little savings, you’ll have to make some sacrifices.

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Downsize some of your larger, more expensive possessions, like your home. You can derive a lot of money from the equity you’ve built into your home and use it to purchase a smaller property or rent.

Retiring on a miniscule income is a challenge for millions of Americans, but it doesn’t have to prevent you from living a nice life. You have options for maximizing your earning capacity and minimizing your expenses … for a fuller life that’s not run entirely by your tight budget.

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