10 Ways People Are Ensuring They Don’t Outlive Their Money

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Americans today believe they will need a lot of cash — about $1.46 million — to retire comfortably, according to Northwestern Mutual’s latest annual Planning & Progress Study.

The truth is that few of us will achieve such lofty goals. And even if we do, there is still no guarantee that a nest egg that size will see us all the way through retirement unless we spend carefully.

In fact, the Northwestern Mutual survey — for which more than 4,500 adults in the U.S. were polled — found that they believe there is a 43% chance of them outliving their savings, on average.

They are not standing by idly, though. A majority have taken steps to ensure they don’t outlive their savings. Here’s what they are doing.

10. Obtained information from relevant associations

man on his laptop, smiling
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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 8%

Turning to expert sources of retirement information — the survey cites AARP as an example — can help you glean tips about how to extend your savings. A little education goes a long way when it comes to maintaining a nest egg.

9. Learned more about applicable government assistance

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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 12%

If hard times put your back against the wall, turning to the government for help might be your only option. To learn more, check out “10 Programs That Help Struggling Retirees With Living Costs.”

8. Conducted research or information searches

Senior woman playing on her tablet
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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 15%

The internet offers a wealth of information on an endless variety of subjects. With a little time and commitment, you can learn about the many ways to get the most out of your dollars.

7. Purchased insurance

Shaking hands with financial advisor
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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 16%

Standard policies like homeowners insurance and auto insurance are vital to protecting your nest egg over the course of your retirement. Other types of coverage, such as long-term care insurance, also make sense in certain situations.

5. Sought advice from an advisor (tie)

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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 17%

If money issues leave you flummoxed, talking to a financial advisor can be a great way to come to grips with your situation and to explore options for moving ahead. You can find a professional who has a fiduciary obligation to put your best interests first through free services such as SmartAsset.

5. Purchased investments (tie)

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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 17%

Few people want to take on risk during retirement. But a little risk likely is necessary if your investments are going to provide the growth you need to fund a retirement over the long haul.

For more, read “5 Simple Ways to Invest Your Retirement Savings.”

4. Put together a financial plan

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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 18%

Even the best retirement plan cannot guarantee you won’t outlive your savings — but it sure improves the odds. If you are crafting a retirement plan, make sure to avoid some of the biggest mistakes that financial advisors warn against.

3. Discussed options with family

Multigenerational family members
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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 20%

To ensure you don’t outlive your money, it’s crucial to get everyone in your household on the same page.

It also helps to tell children and other extended family members exactly how much financial help you can — and cannot — provide to them given your finances.

2. Increased savings

Happy older woman with money.
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Respondents who have taken this step to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 25%

When planning for retirement, there are a lot of things you cannot control. Financial markets and the wider economy will do their own thing, whether you like it or not. Prices will go their own way, even if it ends up hurting your wallet.

One thing you can control a little better, however, is how much you save. And the more you save, the better off you are likely to be.

1. Nothing

Confused senior shrugging
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Respondents who have not taken any steps to address the possibility of outliving their savings: 37%

That’s right: 37% of respondents in the Northwestern Mutual survey said they have yet to take any steps to address the possibility of outliving their savings, making “nothing” the most common response of all.

Funding retirement is not easy, but it’s a challenge you must face head-on.

Don’t expect Uncle Sam to bail you out. Social Security payments are relatively skimpy, and Medicare does not cover all of your health care costs. A secure retirement is up to you.

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