Retirement without savings: 10 ideas for income

by | May 5, 2023

It’s growing more and more common in the United States: individuals facing retirement, without savings. 

The fact is: things just aren’t like they used to be. While the cost of living pushes the need for financial security into retirement even higher, many are facing a stark reality. That they’ll have no savings in retirement to support themselves. 

But how many retirees in the United States actually have no savings? What happens if you don’t have enough money in your savings to retire? And what can you actually do if you’re 60 with no retirement savings?

We’ve answered all these questions and more. To help put you back in control of your retirement savings with all the facts on your side. 

How many retirees in the United States have no savings?

If you ask most Americans how much they’ll need for a cushy retirement, most will throw out a big number like $1 million (or more!). But, in reality, most workers are drastically far from that goal. In fact, a significant amount of individuals are nearing retirement without a dollar in their savings. 

In an article from Clever, it was found that in 2023, 37% of retirees reported having no retirement savings, up from 30% in 2022. It’s a pretty shocking statistic to see (and, if you’d like to learn some more harrowing facts, check out our State of Retirement blog here). But we’re really not as surprised as we should be with the state of the economy currently. 

What happens if you don’t have enough money in your savings to retire?

So, what actually happens if you don’t save for retirement? Obviously, it’s a pretty dire set up, and we shouldn’t have to tell you that. But if you’re wondering exactly what your future will look like if you’re currently without a nest egg? Here’s the basics:

To stop working, you’ll need an income that’s pretty close if not matches the income you earn pre-retirement. For example, if you earned $100k a year? You’ll need up to $80k per year to maintain your lifestyle after you leave the workforce. 

But, without savings or a pension plan, you’ll need to either continue earning money. Or, cut way back on your spending.

So what actually happens if you don't have enough money saved to retire? There's a few possibilities

It’s a big reason why the retirement age is delayed year by year. Many are simply not in a financial situation to actually be able to step away from the workforce. And for those complaining that too many “Boomers” are clogging up the workforce, it’s really not their fault. 

For people who do enter retirement without any saved cash, and aren’t capable of earning additional income? Their main source of income will be Social Security. Though this can be a nice fallback, the reality is that average Social Security payment is little more than $1,690, which is not nearly enough for most retirees to cover their expenses. 

In the past, individuals relied on corporate pension plans to fund (or partially fund) their retirements. However, these plans are becoming rarer and rarer and, while some government jobs still offer these pensions, the earnings for these jobs often have no Social Security taxes withheld, which essentially puts you into a “one or the other” situation – even if you can access this pension. 

What to do if you’re 60 with no retirement savings?

The real question is: what can you do about it?

If you’re 60 with no retirement savings, there’s a couple things you can do to safeguard your financial security in retirement. It’s all about proper planning and reevaluating your retirement plan to align with the current state of the world today. 

– Take stock of your retirement assets

If you're 60 and approaching retirement without savings, take stock of your retirement assets - what you need and what you can sell for income

The first thing you can do before launching into a whole existential crisis is to carefully evaluate your existing assets. This includes cash savings, yes, but also your employer pension funds, annuities and retirement accounts like 401(k)s. It’s a good idea to also assess physical assets, like home(s), cars, antiques, collectibles, land, or anything else you can possibly sell to generate retirement income. It could even be something as simple as your flat-screen, high def, smart TV!

– Reduce your spending and streamline your budget

If you’re approaching 60 with little retirement savings, it’s a good idea to sit down and go over a detailed budget to help you keep your head above water. It’ll also help you get a real idea of how much you’ll actually need in retirement: instead of hearing that “$1 mil” rumor, thinking “there’s no way” and giving up entirely.

f you're 60 and approaching retirement with no savings, it's a good idea to figure out your retirement plan and take stock of your spending

You may want to sell physical possessions and downsize your home, you can also follow these cost-cutting measures to help you improve your financial stability in retirement:

  • Sell your car and use ride-sharing services, public transportation, or even take up walking (or biking!) short distances to eliminate car payments and insurance bills
  • Raise your deductible on your homeowner’s insurance policy to lower premium costs 
  • Take advantage of senior discounts wherever possible. We know, some of you are thinking it’s “embarrassing” to go in with your seniors card for a cheap McDonald’s meal. But what’s more embarrassing? Having no financial security in the later years of your life!
  • Discontinue any landline telephones and swap your cell phone plan out for the most affordable one
  • Assess what you currently buy in terms of clothing, skin care, and even food, and see whether you can opt for generic labels, as opposed to name-brand merchandise
  • Make inexpensive home improvements that will increase your energy efficiency and reduce utility bills. Or … start unplugging those devices when they’re off!

– Pay down debt

Headed into retirement with a lot of debt on your side? Be strategic about paying it off ASAP! If you follow the second step – to start streamlining your budget – there’s a chance you can save a decent amount a week. Even just $5 a week toward each debt can make a massive difference in the long run. 

We’d like to emphasize that you’ll need to split your income between retirement savings AND debt pay off. It may be tempting to funnel everything toward your debt, but it’s always a good idea to have some money on your side for financial emergencies. 

If you can find the perfect balance of paying off debt and saving, you’ll be able to see a much more secure retirement. 

– Focus on building income streams (even if they’re just side hustles!)

Even if you’re retiring without substantial savings, Social Security will probably be your primary source of retirement income. 

And, honestly, it’s not as rare as you’d think. In the 2023 article from Clever, it was recorded that the most common source of retirement income among retirees was Social Security, with 79% of those surveyed citing it as a source of income. 

But it’s a good idea to consider earning supplemental income by working part-time, picking up a side hustle, or starting your own funnel. Just be aware that working while claiming Social Security can result in your benefits being temporarily reduced if your earnings exceed the allowed thresholds – but considering the state of retirement today, we highly recommend increasing your income streams. Even if you lose out on Social Security occasionally, if you’re raking in cash that can offer financial stability, you’re not at a real loss.

If you want to avoid retirement without savings, there's a number of income streams you can take advantage of to build security

Here’s a list of income streams you can build to achieve financial security in retirement:

But there are endless ways to make money for retirement and build your next egg. All you have to do is think about your skills, and figure out a way to make cash off it. You’d be surprised how much you can actually make from minimal effort and stress… 

If you want ideas? Explore our full range of blogs about how to Earn Money today. 

The reality is, many are looking toward a retirement without savings. It’s a common problem in the United States, but there are ways to stabilize your financial security, even if you’re well into your 60s. Earn Money in Retirement is here to help you create a retirement filled with purpose, that proves that retirement doesn’t have to mean the end. Explore our full range of tips and tricks, how to’s, and advice here.