An elderly couple, a man and a woman, look intently at a laptop screen while sitting at a table with a cup of coffee, discussing their retirement finances.

What Now? Salvaging Your Retirement finances

Realizing that your retirement finances are not on track can be a daunting revelation. Whether due to insufficient savings, poor investment choices, or unforeseen expenses, many find themselves facing a less-than-ideal financial situation as they approach or enter retirement. But all is not lost. There are several steps you can take to regain control of your retirement finances and work towards a more secure future.

Assess Your Current Financial Situation

The first step in correcting course is understanding exactly where you stand. This means taking a comprehensive look at all your financial resources including savings, investments, debts, and expected retirement income sources such as Social Security or pensions.

  • Calculate Your Net Worth: This includes all your assets minus any liabilities. Knowing your net worth gives you a clear picture of your current financial status.
  • Review Your Spending: It’s crucial to know where your money goes each month. Track your spending over a few months to identify areas where you can cut back.
  • Evaluate Your Investments: Check if your investments are aligned with your retirement goals. It might be time to reassess your risk tolerance and investment strategy.

Revisit Your Retirement Goals

Your retirement goals might need to be adjusted based on your current financial situation. Perhaps you planned to retire at 60, but you might need to extend this to 65 or later to enhance your financial stability.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Be honest about what you can achieve with your current and projected financial resources.
  • Consider Partial Retirement: If possible, you might consider working part-time or taking on freelance work during retirement to supplement your income.

Optimize Your Retirement Income

Maximizing your income during retirement is crucial to managing your finances effectively.

  • Delay Social Security: Delaying your Social Security benefits can significantly increase your monthly checks. If you can afford to wait, this can be a beneficial strategy.
  • Explore Annuities: An annuity can provide a steady income stream in retirement, which can be particularly useful if you’re worried about outliving your savings.
  • Downsize Your Lifestyle: Sometimes, living a more modest lifestyle in retirement can make your funds stretch further. Consider downsizing your home or cutting unnecessary expenses.

Manage Your Debts Wisely

High levels of debt can cripple your retirement finances. It’s important to tackle this issue head-on.

  • Prioritize High-Interest Debt: Pay off high-interest debts such as credit card balances as quickly as possible.
  • Refinance Your Mortgage: If you have a mortgage, refinancing to a lower interest rate can reduce your monthly payments and free up cash.
  • Consolidate Your Debts: Debt consolidation can reduce your interest rates and help you manage payments more effectively.

Invest Smartly

If you’ve made poor investment choices in the past, it’s not too late to turn things around. However, it’s advisable to proceed with caution and possibly seek professional advice.

  • Diversify Your Portfolio: Ensure your investments are spread across different asset classes to mitigate risk.
  • Consider Lower-Risk Investments: As you approach or are in retirement, consider shifting towards more conservative investments to preserve capital.
  • Stay Informed: Keep yourself updated about your investments and the market conditions. Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to investing.

Seek Professional Help

There’s no shame in seeking help from a financial advisor. A professional can offer you tailored advice and help you develop a comprehensive plan to get your retirement finances back on track.

  • Choose a Reputable Advisor: Look for credentials such as CFP (Certified Financial Planner) or CPA (Certified Public Accountant).
  • Understand the Costs: Be clear about how your financial advisor is compensated to avoid any conflicts of interest.


If you find that you’ve screwed up your retirement finances, it’s important to not despair. By taking concrete steps to assess your situation, adjust your goals, optimize your income, manage your debts, and invest wisely, you can work towards a more secure financial future. Remember, it’s never too late to make changes that can significantly improve your retirement outlook.

Tom Rooney

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