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Most people don’t want to think about getting old, but there’s really only one other option…

If you hope to live beyond the age of 61, you should definitely consider what life at the official age of retirement will look like. According to the Social Security Administration, the average benefits for working professionals who spent at least 35 years in the labor force is $1294 per month. Your ability to live comfortably in retirement will depend on the choices you make now. Here are some things to consider.

How Many Years You’ll Put In

Social Security benefits for full-time workers vary based on how many years you’ve put in the workforce and your salary at the time. Experts suggest contributing to the system—meaning having a job on the books or paying taxes on income—for 35 years to maximize your payouts in retirement.

Having a Sound Mortgage Strategy

A mortgage is typically one of the largest bills people pay each month. Closing out that debt before retirement is ideal for some folks, based on income and goals. Other individuals may want to leverage the equity in their homes to create additional sources of income. Whatever your choice, consult with a financial planner to make sure the strategy gives you the financial security you need.

Supplemental Retirement Income

Can you live off $1500 or less monthly? You don’t have to. Diversify your retirement investments now so you can create different streams of revenue for the future. This includes contributing to your 401k and IRA, but also considering other options, such as buying income properties in your 20’s and 30’s (pay off a mortgage and use rent roll for income later), investing in small businesses and purchasing appreciating assets.

Do You Want to Work?

Many retirees leave their former careers and find that they are bored after a bit of travel and family time. They solve this issue by starting new jobs or businesses. Consider whether working later in life is something you think you’d want to do and plan now so you can acquire the skills you need to earn the additional income you desire later. While you may not be able to work forever, earning more money for even an extra decade allows you to delay withdrawing funds from your 401k/IRA and save your pension/social security.