Social Security puts a little gold into a lot of golden years.
Best idea? Maxing out those social security checks. And the time to start thinking about it is long before you start getting gray. Because there are things you can do now that will get you more money later.
Tip 1? Understand how Social Security works. For example, they start by averaging your highest 35 years of earnings. If you work less than 35 years, you'll have years that show zero earnings. So try to get the full 35.
Tip 2: Know what you'll get. Now, the more you make, the bigger the benefit. But today's maximum is still just over $2,500 a month. Not enough to live on? Better start saving.
Then there's when to start taking it.
You can take Social Security as young as 62, but waiting pays. For every year you wait after full retirement age, you'll get a permanent increase of 5-8% a year. So if you wait till 70, you can increase your benefit by a third.
And while you're waiting, get married. If half your spouses benefit is more than all of yours, you can take that instead.
How do you know what your benefit will be? Hop online and use the Social Security calculator to get an estimate. It uses your actual numbers, and estimates how much you'll get depending on when you start.
Bottom line? Social Security isn't rocket science. Understand it long before you need it, you'll put more gold in your golden years. For more tips, including a link to the Social Security calculator, go to MoneyTalksNews.com and search "Social Security."