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    7 Things You Must Do If Your Social Security Income Is Lower Than Expected

    By Jacob Wade,

    21 days ago
    lorozco3D /

    Social Security is an important financial safety net that tens of millions of Americans rely on every month. But for many, Social Security is not enough to cover their expenses. And some retirees are finding their monthly Social Security check to be a bit lighter than expected.

    If you are about to retire — or have started drawing Social Security already — you might be feeling a bit squeezed. With high inflation and cost of living continuing to rise, you need a plan to handle life’s expenses in addition to your Social Security check.

    Learn More: I’m Retired and I Regret Not Taking Social Security at Age 62 — Here’s Why

    Read Next: The Surprising Way You Can Get Guaranteed Retirement Income for Life

    GOBankingRates spoke with a few financial advisors to get some tips on how to handle a Social Security shortfall. Here are their best tips .

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    Surprised With Your Low Social Security? You’re Not Alone

    Social Security is designed to pay out based on the average of your 35 highest-earning years. But some retirees are still shocked at how low payments are compared with what they were expecting.

    In fact, according to a recent survey by national insurer Nationwide, 36% of Americans are receiving less Social Security than expected.

    This can have a huge impact on retirees who are relying heavily on Social Security benefits in retirement. And while it can feel like it’s too late to fix the problem, there are still a few things you can do to improve your retirement outlook.

    Find Out: 8 States To Move to If You Don’t Want To Pay Taxes on Social Security

    Here’s What You Can Do If Your Social Security Income Is Too Low

    If Social Security isn’t going to pay out as much as you’d like, here are some things you can do about it.

    Part-Time Work

    If you’re at or near retirement age and your Social Security checks are looking small, you might consider working a little bit longer. You might even be able to increase the size of your monthly Social Security checks with some part-time work.

    “The benefits you receive from Social Security are based on your highest 35 years of earnings,” said Ryan Cravitz, RICP, founder of Cravitz Financial . “If you were out of the workforce for a number of years, replacing some $0 earning years with some years where you can make additional income might help increase your benefits. The extra income from working of course can help too.”

    Monetize Your Hobbies

    Retirement is a great time to enjoy hobbies that you never had time for while working full time. Sometimes you can find ways to turn those hobbies into a side business to bring in some extra income.

    “If you have a hobby, you might be able to make some money doing it,” said Zack Swad, CFP, president of Swad Wealth Management . “For example, let’s say you enjoy woodworking. You could make custom cutting boards and sell them on sites like Etsy. Or maybe you like to do landscaping or handiwork. You could list yourself for hire on sites like Taskrabbit. Not only can this provide extra income, but it can give you something productive to do if you have ‘too much’ free time.”

    Rental Income

    While you might not want a side hustle or second job, renting out space on your property or a room in your home can bring in some extra income. You can rent out not only a space for someone to live but also just your yard or garage for people to store cars and other items.

    “If you have extra space or a second home, consider renting it,” Swad said. “Given how high rents are, this could bring in a substantial amount of income to help cover your expenses. If your home is in a desirable area, you could also consider doing short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb. However, make sure you have the appropriate insurance in place to protect yourself.”


    Your home can be one of the largest expenses in retirement, and if you still have a mortgage or are paying high taxes and insurance, you might consider downsizing. If your kids have finally moved out and you’re okay with a smaller place, downsizing can free up some much-needed monthly cash flow.

    “You may no longer need the large home you may have needed earlier in your life,” Swad said. “Consider downsizing to a smaller apartment or house. This can reduce your rent/mortgage along with other expenses, such as maintenance, repairs, utilities, etc.”

    Put Together an “Intentional Spending Plan”

    If you aren’t bringing in as much cash as expected with your Social Security checks, putting together a spending plan (also known as a budget) can help.

    “One exercise I like to do with my clients is something called an ‘Intentional Spending Plan,'” Swad said. “The purpose of this is to get clarity over where your money is going each month. By doing so, you can figure out what expenses are not essential to you having a great life. Ruthlessly eliminate those so you have more to do what you love. To get started, consider getting a budgeting tool, a spreadsheet, or just a pencil and paper and start tracking what you are spending. You may also look back at past credit cards and bank statements to get an idea of what you’re currently spending.”

    Apply for Assistance Programs

    If you don’t have enough income to cover the essentials from Social Security and other retirement income, consider applying for assistance programs. These programs are in place to assist those who need help paying for everyday expenses.

    “If you’re still struggling to make ends meet, you might consider applying for government assistance or local charitable organizations,” Swad said. “For example, you may be eligible for Medicaid, Low-Income Housing Programs, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food from local food banks.”

    Lower Your Bills

    Your fixed expenses may not be fixed, and you can negotiate lower prices or change providers to help lower your bills. This can help your Social Security dollars stretch further.

    “Do you still need your landline phone, for instance?” Cravitz said. “Many seniors have told me they mostly get telemarketers calling them on their landline, so it pays to consider just using your cellphone. Consider changing your cable TV service. Think through what channels you actually watch. Maybe you are paying for a more robust cable TV plan than you need to. You also may want to consider streaming services such YouTube TV, which might be more affordable. Check your insurance costs. Perhaps you are overpaying for homeowners, renters or car insurance. It can pay to shop around.”

    This article originally appeared on : 7 Things You Must Do If Your Social Security Income Is Lower Than Expected

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