Planners always encourage their clients to save as much as possible for retirement. But what if some clients can't save enough? These clients may decide that part of their plan is to just work – and save -- longer.

Clients cannot contribute past age 70½ to a traditional IRA, so they could consider converting to a Roth IRA if they still earn income to contribute past that age and if they earn below the maximum threshold for their filing status, says Steve Williams, vice president, national head of financial planning at U.S. BMO Private Bank in Chicago. Moreover, Roth IRAs have no required minimum distributions at age 70½.

Kevin J. Meehan, regional president at Wealth Enhancement in Itasca, Ill., says that clients working longer could also consider having two IRAs – a traditional IRA that they could start drawing from at age 70½ or earlier and a Roth IRA to offset taxes.

Catherine Seeber, a principal at Wescott Financial Advisory Group in Philadelphia, says clients should also consider not significantly reducing equities in exchange for increasing bonds in their portfolios, particularly if they are going to work many more years.


Clients should also commit to spending less and reducing debt much earlier in life, so they can better handle "surprises" in their twilight years, such as the death of their spouse, disability and dependent family members, Seeber adds.

Clients should determine the financial implications if they ultimately could not work for health reasons or if they could not keep their job or find work elsewhere, says Ronsey Chawla, a financial advisor at Per Stirling Capital Management in Austin, Texas. They also need to plan for potentially increasing out-of-pocket medical costs.

"Only then can one start pulling potential levers that may include exploring career options, modifying the savings strategy, downsizing, choosing a city with a lower cost of living or eliminating key liabilities altogether," Chawla says. "Perhaps, a reverse mortgage might be an effective solution to those with equity in the house to provide for unplanned expenses, unexpected health care costs or longevity."

If someone ultimately cannot work, they could also consider selling their multi-bedroom family home and moving to a condo or renting an apartment – and perhaps even sharing expenses with a roommate, says Mary Voll Miller, another Per Stirling financial advisor.

"A 50-year-old, 5,000 square-foot home with extensive maintenance, utility and real estate tax expenses can prove to be a heavy burden for a retiree on a fixed income," Miller says.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer in Running Springs, Calif. She has contributed to American Banker, Risk & Insurance and Human Resource Executive.

This story is part of a 30-day series on Social Security and retirement income strategies.

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