Smart Retirees Do These 10 Things to Never Work Again

Find out how these retirees cracked the code to leisure and fulfillment.

An old couple on a hammock
Updated June 6, 2024
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The first step toward a successful, comfortable retirement is to grow your wealth through investments and savings. 

The second step takes place on the first day of your retirement as you make spending decisions that will determine how long the money you’ve saved will last.

Now that you’re no longer working and are living on a fixed income, it’s important to manage your spending habits and make wise decisions about where to put your money. 

Whether you’re getting ready to retire or have already left the workforce for good, learn the 10 best ways to protect your savings after retiring.

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Stick with stocks

peopleimages.com/Adobe Senior couple looking at paperwork

By the time you retire, you should be lowering your stock allocation in your investment portfolio to make it less risky than when you were working and had decades to make up for any losses.

Bonds are a less risky investment, but they also provide lower returns. It will help keep some of your retirement assets in stocks even after you leave the workforce. 

With a mix of stocks and bonds, you’ll have a safer investment and the opportunity to continue to build wealth through retirement.

Withdraw no more than 4% a year

JackF/Adobe Man using an ATM

Not sure how much money you’ll need to take out of your savings the year you retire? The 4% rule is a financial guideline that advises retirees to withdraw no more than 4% of their savings in their first year of retirement. 

Every year after your first year, you’ll adjust the amount to account for inflation while continuing to withdraw no more than 4%.

According to the initial study of 50 years of stock market data that produced the 4% rule, spending no more than this amount can help your savings last 30 years or more.

Consider withdrawing less than 4% when possible

Syda Productions/Adobe Senior woman with paperwork

Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to withdraw a full 4% from your investments each year. If you can get by without the entire amount, consider withdrawing less to extend your savings further.

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Separate your wants from your needs

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When you have a steady stream of income, it can be easier to justify spending money on things you want but don’t necessarily need. After all, you can always pick up an extra shift to cover the cost, right?

But now that your income is limited, it’s crucial to start differentiating purchases you want to make from the purchase you need to make — at least, it is if you want your savings to last for decades, not years.

Know when it pays to spend money

tiero/Adobe plumber

On the other hand, it’s just as crucial to understand when it’s worth spending more now to avoid bigger costs down the line.

Home maintenance, which can include paying for minor issues before they can turn into major problems, are generally good investments to make even in retirement.

Maintenance costs are expensive enough, though, that you need to budget for them ahead of time. The same is usually true of car maintenance and repair.

Push back your Social Security benefits date

Tamani Chithambo/peopleimages.com/Adobe Older woman on phone

Today’s seniors can opt to start receiving their Social Security benefits once they turn 62. However, if you delay accepting benefits until you reach age 70, you’ll receive a much higher payment than you would have eight years earlier.

Why bother delaying benefits? Since most people tend to spend more on medical expenses as they age, it could help your budget to have a higher amount deposited to your checking account in the later years of your retirement.

Plus, waiting to receive benefits ensures you can’t spend money in your 60s that you might need for greater expenses in your 70s.

Eliminate high-interest debt

Shisu_ka/Adobe Person looking at credit cards

While you don’t necessarily need to crush your debt once and for all before retiring (more about that later), getting rid of as much high-interest credit card debt as soon as possible should be a top priority.

The longer you live with debt, the more interest accrues over time — and the more you pay compared to the original sum you spent. Pre-retirement, that means you’ll have less money to save. Post-retirement, it means more of your savings get eaten up.

Consider paying off other forms of debt

Andy Dean/Adobe Older couple in front of house

Paying off a fixed-rate mortgage isn’t necessarily as critical as paying off a high-interest credit card. If you can comfortably afford your current payment and are locked into a low rate, don’t worry about pulling money out of savings just to pay off your mortgage.

But if you can pay off your mortgage, you might consider doing so. Since housing is usually your largest expense, paying it off early can free up a lot of cash.

Resist funding your children’s lives

Syda Productions/Adobe Adult child with mother

It can be hard to say no when your children ask for financial help, even if they are grown adults. 

But you’re on a fixed income now, so if you want to avoid returning to the workforce if your savings run out, you’ll need to establish firm financial boundaries with your kids.

It could help to be frank with your kids about your retirement plans, including your plans for long-term care, so the whole family has the same understanding about what they can and can’t expect from you financially when you’re retired.

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Talk to a financial advisor

InsideCreativeHouse/Adobe Senior couple talking to financial advisor

Not sure how you’re going to make your savings last? A financial advisor can offer personalized, expert advice to help you craft a detailed spending plan for your retirement.

While meeting with a financial advisor can be a one-and-done deal, it might help to find a financial advisor you can work with for the long term. 

On top of helping you plan for the near future, a financial advisor can help you review and resolve any budget problems that arise, offer advice on your investment allocation, and evaluate your insurance needs.

Bottom line

Monkey Business/Adobe Senior couple sitting on sofa

Now that you’ve finally arrived at retirement, ensuring your retirement savings fund lasts for the rest of your life is up to you.

While you can’t control every factor that could impact your finances, such as the global economy or an unexpected medical emergency, these steps can keep you financially healthy and extend your savings for as long as possible.

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Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith has spent a decade writing for and about small businesses. She specializes in all things finance and has written for publications like G2 and SmallBizDaily. When she's not writing for work at her desk, you can usually find her writing for pleasure near large bodies of water.