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retirementIs your 60th birthday right around the corner? Maybe it just passed?

Either way, your retirement will be here before you know it. Hopefully, you’ve been actively saving for years and this will just be a list of things you’ve already done or have in the pipeline.

As your golden years approach, consider this: The average life expectancy in the U.S. increased dramatically from about 70 in 1967 to about 80 in 2017. Those who reach age 65 also have a one in five chance of living into their 90s.

A longer life is great news. You have time to check more off your bucket list, but it also means you need to plan for a longer retirement.

For example, if you retire at 65, a 30-year retirement is quite possible. But even if you save $1 million for your retirement, you have to make sure to budget it out so it lasts.

Start taking these 11 steps today to make your retirement savings last throughout your golden years.

1. Start Earning Serious Interest on Your Savings

Imagine $28,243 more dollars in your bank account. That’s the interest income you would earn with an additional 1% in interest on a $100,000 deposit over 25 years.

Even if you don’t have that much to put into an account right now, the concept holds true for any amount of savings.

Don’t leave money in a checking account because you think interest rates are too low to make a difference. That is just not true.

A high-interest savings account can earn you nearly 2% interest and you can still have unrestricted access to your savings.

To put that into perspective, the national average savings account rate is 0.08%, according to the FDIC. By choosing an account that offers the highest rate, you can earn a lot more.

Think about it this way: If you have $20,000 sitting in an account earning 0.06% interest, you’d earn about $12 annually. An account with 1.85% interest would earn you $370.50. That’s without any additional deposits and for just one year. After a few years, the returns would really add up.

Or consider this: Say you’re 50 and want to retire at 65. If you open the same high-interest account with the same amount and contribute $1,000 a month, you’d end up with $233,551 — more than $33,000 in interest alone. With the old savings account, you’d only end up with $200,000, with $988 in interest.

Try This: Open a high-yield savings account. Check out the CIT Bank Money Market Account. It offers 1.85% interest and doesn’t charge any service fees. You can open an account with a $100 minimum deposit.

2. Plan Like a Professional

First and foremost, if you want to get an accurate picture of your expenses and retirement needs, we recommend speaking with a financial advisor that specializes in retirement planning.

Their job is to help you manage your personal finances and reach your goals. Dealing with your day-to-day finances is not always a challenge. But getting yourself prepared for retirement is difficult to face alone.

An advisor can offer advice on how to optimize your retirement account contributions, tips for navigating taxes and hidden fees and can help you feel more confident about your retirement plan.

A Voya Financial report found that only about 28% of people consult a financial advisor. While using an advisor may cost money, the report found that 79% of people who use one said they “know how to pursue achieving their retirement goals.” The study also found that 59% of those who use an advisor have calculated how much they need to retire, while 52% had a formal retirement investment plan in place.

Try ThisFind a financial advisor. We’ve made it super easy to get in touch with one. We actually designed a tool to match you with the top financial advisors in your area.

Follow these steps to find an advisor near you:

  1. Answer these few easy questions about your current financial situation.
  2. Our tool matches you with up to three advisors who can provide expertise based on your specific goals. You don’t have to spend hours interviewing dozens of people and firms.
  3. Check out the advisors’ profiles, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future.

3. Eliminate High-Interest Credit Card Debt

Making steep monthly payments on high-interest credit card debt can take a toll on what you’re able to save for retirement. Getting rid of this debt could free up more money you could funnel into your IRA, high-interest savings account or other investments.

One quick way to do this is to take out a personal loan, which probably sounds counter-productive. But it’s one of the speediest ways to rid yourself of credit card debt and could potentially save you thousands in interest payments.

Depending on your credit situation, personal loans typically have lower interest rates and monthly payments than credit cards and you can use them to pay off most or all of your debt in one lump sum. That way, your payments are all merged into a single account with your lender.

For example, you could take out a personal loan with a company like SoFi, which offers loans of up to $100,000 with a fixed-rate APY starting at 6.199% and payment plans of 3-7 years.

4. Save Money on Your Auto & Home Insurance

If downsizing your living situation or changing your vehicle isn’t something you’re in the position to do, there are other ways you can save money without having to move or sell your car.

For instance, consider what you’re paying for your auto and homeowners insurance.

The U.S. average annual cost for homeowners insurance is $1,173, according to the latest numbers from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). If you haven’t gotten an updated quote recently, you could be spending more than you need to.

Similarly, a June 2018 Nerdwallet study found that the average auto insurance premium costs over $1,500 per year, with some states averaging over $3,000.

Try this: Sites like Gabi Insurance make it simple to get a better rate on your home or vehicle. The free platform uses an algorithm to analyze your current insurance policies and find comparable policies with cost comparisons. All you do is link your current insurance account to Gabi.

Gabi reports that users who use the platform to switch insurance plans save an average $720. That’s extra money you could have earning compounded interest in a retirement or investment account.

5. Don’t Overpay On Your Taxes

Some common retirement tax mistakes include overpaying taxes on Social Security benefits, paying investment surtaxes, overpaying capital gains taxes, paying higher medicare premiums and paying penalties on 401(k) or other retirement account distributions.

As you withdraw money from your 401(k) and other retirement accounts, you will need to pay taxes on some or all of that money. You can lower the tax hit by withdrawing money from certain accounts in an informed way.

For example, money you withdraw from a Roth IRA is not taxable income. Money you withdraw from a 401(k) is taxable. Depending on how much you spend each month and the makeup of your savings, your tax situation could look quite different.

What is the best way to draw money from your accounts? The answer will vary by person, and this is another area where a financial advisor can really help you. In the years before retirement, they can explain how to allocate your savings so that you’re set up for retirement. Once you retire, an advisor can show you how to use that savings in a tax-efficient way.

Try This: Use this free service to find a financial advisor with tax expertise. Even if you ultimately decide not to engage a financial advisor, it can still be useful to speak with one to get a sense for their value.

6. Plan for Healthcare Expenses

Studies show the average 65-year-old couple will need $220,000 to cover health care expenses in retirement.

But most people dramatically underestimate their healthcare expenses and overestimate the help they will get from Medicare. Top economist Paul Frostin estimates that Medicare will only cover 51% of healthcare expenses for retirees.

Many people approach retirement thinking they will have far lower expenses in their golden years. While the average retiree has 25% lower expenses than non-retirees, some spending categories do actually increase. In particular, healthcare expenses jump up by more than 40%. So as you plan for retirement, you cannot overlook your medical bills.

Try This: Estimate your healthcare expenses ahead of time. This calculator from AARP is a good starting point.

7. Downsize… Even if You’ve Paid Off Your Mortgage

Housing is one of the largest expenses for retirees. Even if you’ve fully paid off a mortgage, you can still have significant housing costs (think property taxes, insurance and maintenance).

Downsizing is one way to reduce those costs.

Many people buy their homes during the middle of their lives. That could be a time when you have children living with you or when you simply want a larger space where you can enjoy your life. As you get older and the kids move, a smaller space could be enough for you with your new lifestyle. It could also save you significant money.

The national average housing costs per year in retirement are $8,819, according to our own internal study using Bureau of Labor Statistic data. Multiply that by 30 years and you’ll spend an average $264,570.

Try This: Explore downsizing options and home values in your neighborhood. There are hefty transaction fees in selling your current home and buying another so we recommend targeting a home that is approximately 40% lower in price than your current home.

8. Refinance Your Mortgage

Are you still paying off your mortgage? You should consider refinancing.

This can lower your interest rate and save you money over the course of paying off your mortgage. In the current economy, where interest rates are still quite low, refinancing is a particularly useful tool for homeowners.

Refinancing a mortgage to a longer term can also help you free up money for you to use elsewhere. For example, let’s say you have 10 years remaining to pay off your mortgage and you refinance to a 15-year loan with a lower interest rate. Your new mortgage will be longer, but will also have lower monthly payments. That frees up money each month for you to put toward other expenses.

Try This: There are a number of factors to consider with refinancing, so make sure to do your homework. Start by using a simple mortgage refinancing calculator to see if it makes sense, mathematically, to consider refinancing.

9. Move to a Low Tax State

One way to lower your tax bill in retirement is to move to an area with lower tax rates. This will not affect federal taxes, but it can greatly lower your state and local costs.

Consider some examples of how moving may benefit you. The difference between the average property tax bill in New Jersey and the average property tax bill in Alabama is more than $7,000.

The average state and local sales tax in Louisiana is almost 10%, but four states (Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon) have neither state nor local sales taxes.

The average costs of housing, food, transportation and medicine also vary by thousands of dollars in different states. The average Washington, D.C. resident pays 50% more for food than the average Mississippi resident.

Try This: Consider which state is the most retirement friendly. Even if you aren’t willing to relocate across the country, moving a few hours away to get over the state border could pay off in a big way.

10. Maximize Social Security Income

Social Security benefits are a major source of income for the average retiree. You can help yourself in retirement by getting yourself the maximum benefit possible.

To do that, you will need to work a bit longer and retire slightly later. Because the Social Security Administration pays your distributions based on your average salary over 35 years, it is ideal to work at least that long. If you don’t participate in the labor force that many years, you will decrease your payment.

It is possible to receive Social Security benefits starting at age 62, but that will decrease the size of your benefit by 20% to 30% of its maximum size. You can increase your benefit by working longer and waiting until after 65 to elect your benefits. Each year you work over age 65 (up to 70) can increase your benefit by as much as 8%.

Waiting to file for Social Security isn’t possible for everyone, but it will help you maximize your retirement income.

Try This: If your financial situation is relatively straightforward our Social Security Calculatorwill provide an accurate estimate on how election age may affect your Social Security income.

11. Have the Right Life Insurance Products

Everyone should consider buying life insurance. Should something happen to you, a life insurance policy provides financial protection to your dependents.

You should also consider life insurance regardless of your salary, your work situation or your good health. Do you have life insurance through an employer? That’s great, but your policy won’t follow you if you switch jobs or retire. That’s why you need to look into getting your own policy, independent of any employer.

The primary consideration with life insurance is how large a policy you need. Your ideal policy size depends on how much you make, what you have for assets, your age and the financial situation of your dependents.

Try This: The math can get complicated, so your best bet is to use a calculator to determine how much life insurance you need.

Next Steps

No matter how you look at it, planning for retirement is complicated. We recommend speaking with a financial advisor, and actually designed a tool to match you with the top advisors in your area.

Here’s how it works:

  • Answer these few easy questions about your current financial situation.
  • Sit back while our tool matches you with up to three advisors who can provide expertise based on your specific goals. It only takes a minute.
  • Check out the advisors’ profiles, interview them on the phone or in person and choose who to work with in the future.

Want more retirement advice?

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About SmartAsset

SmartAsset is a financial technology company aiming to provide the best personal finance advice on the web. The company empowers people with automated personalized financial tools. Its proprietary technology, industry-leading research and patent-pending Automated Financial Modeling software forecast the impact of different decisions on people’s personal finances, enabling millions of people to make smart financial decisions. Its exclusive financial advisor matching tool helps people connect with fiduciary financial advisors to get personalized expert advice.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/ViewApart

Derek Silva, CEPF® Derek Silva is determined to make personal finance accessible to everyone. He writes on a variety of personal finance topics for SmartAsset, serving as a retirement and credit card expert. Derek is a member of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers and a Certified Educator in Personal Finance® (CEPF®). He has a degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and has spent time as an English language teacher in the Portuguese autonomous region of the Azores. The message Derek hopes people take away from his writing is, “Don’t forget that money is just a tool to help you reach your goals and live the lifestyle you want.”
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