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Not all Americans prepare for retirement as early as they should, which unfortunately leaves them with few options when they want to call it quits. When that time comes, many people are left dipping into their Social Security benefits, even if that means cashing in earlier than they intended. Unfortunately, the sooner you apply for Social Security benefits (which you can do beginning at age 62), the less money you’ll receive monthly. The good news is that there are ways to retire early and still delay filing for Social Security benefits.

Prepare your finances in multiple ways.

One basic way to plan for your retirement is to start additional savings accounts with different purposes in mind. In general, you should have an emergency fund with a few months of expenses tucked away, but you should also be saving for the future. Some ways to do this are through investment vehicles, like IRAs, annuities, mutual funds, and many other options. Depending on your age, when you want to retire, what benefits your employer offers, and how much you already have saved, your retirement strategy should be tailored to your particular needs. Making these decisions is something that a retirement counselor can help you with.

Meet with a retirement counselor.

This may be the best option to figure out the most successful strategy for your unique situation. There are specific products and plans that can help you achieve your retirement goals, and a retirement counselor can help you feel confident that you’re making the smartest choice. Retirement counselors have specialized knowledge in the newest retirement and investment solutions and they are experienced in helping people make their futures more secure. Explain your plans to retire early and be prepared to share your goals and how much you’ve saved. Your retirement counselor can give you guidance and share some tips about effective saving and budgeting methods.

Make life changes.

If your retirement accounts won’t provide enough of an income stream to make ends meet without filing for Social Security, then try to reassess your expenses. Are there any areas where you can cut spending? Some retirees choose to downsize their home. Relocation may also be another option, even if it means going outside of your current state where you may be able to benefit from a lower cost of living without making drastic changes to your lifestyle.

Work part time.

If you’re retiring, you may not want to work anymore at all, but for some, an encore career can be very rewarding—both financially and personally. This can be something as simple as teaching a community class using a skill that you already have, or as adventurous as pursuing a long-forgotten passion in a completely different field. Not only will you be making money, but you’ll also be staying active and will be engaging in a a line of work that you enjoy. The key is to find something that won’t make you feel like you’re working at all!

You’ll end up working for 35-plus years to earn your Social Security benefits, but hold off on filing until the time is right for your particular claiming strategy. There are many ways to retire early and we can help!