Dear Liz: I’m 67, retired and have $83,000 in a 401(k) that I left with my employer. Should I see a certified financial planner? Based on my current income, I either need a job or I have to start pulling $10,000 from my 401(k) each year, which will clean out my account in eight years.
Answer: You definitely need a job.
You could burn through your nest egg even faster than you expect if the stock market drops or an unexpected expense crops up. And retirement is loaded with surprise expenses, from health care bills to home repairs to long-term care. Even in a best-case scenario, you’re likely to run short of money long before you run out of breath.
A planner could have warned you about this and suggested that a few more years of working, saving and delaying Social Security could have given you a far more comfortable retirement.
It may not be too late.
If you can return to work full time, you could suspend your Social Security benefit. That would allow it to grow by 8% each year until you turn 70. If you’re married and the higher earner, that also would increase the survivor benefit that one of you will have to live on once the other dies.
Even if you can’t work full time, a part-time job could ease the drain on your 401(k). If you’re a homeowner, you also could consider a reverse mortgage that would allow you to turn your home equity into a lifetime stream of monthly checks, a line of credit or a lump sum.
A fee-only advisor — one who is paid only by clients’ fees, rather than by commission — could help you review your options. The Garrett Planning Network offers referrals to fee-only planners who charge by the hour.
Another option for people on a budget: accredited financial counselors or financial fitness coaches. These folks aren’t certified financial planners, but they can help with budgeting, debt management and retirement planning. You can get referrals from the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education.