Envisioning Your Life with Social Security - dummies

Envisioning Your Life with Social Security

By Jonathan Peterson

Copyright © 2018 by AARP. All rights reserved.

Social Security is just one part of your financial well-being. It is not meant to replace most of your pre-retirement income. (It covers roughly 40 percent for typical earners — less for the more affluent.) It was never meant to pay for an upscale lifestyle on its own.

You can get a sense of your future benefits by reviewing a recent Social Security statement, if you have one, or by checking out Social Security’s online tools and plugging in your information.

The future may seem hazy (especially when you’re scrambling just to get through the day), but basic questions are clear. You can begin to imagine the next phase of your life by considering the following:

  • Where will you live? Many people want to stay put. Maybe that makes sense for you. Consider how important your community roots are, the costs of your region, and whether you have family support nearby. If you want to relocate, you can’t wait forever.
  • How long will you live? The longer you survive, the more resources you need.
  • How long will you work? For many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, the answer is “longer than expected.” If you have the option to continue working, a few extra years of work can provide a big boost to retirement security.
  • What are your spending needs? Do you expect to spend more for some things (say, travel and healthcare) and less for others (such as work-related expenses)?

If you believe you need more money in retirement than you’ve saved, try to make changes while there’s time, such as saving more or working longer. If your options are limited, try to bring your spending priorities into line with financial reality sooner rather than later.