My husband and I dealt with it this way. We are both 58-59. About 5 years ago, I quit my job in NY to marry him and move to SC. Retirement was very much on both of our minds; certainly, it was a large part of why I left high-cost-of-living and high-tax NY. He had a good amount in his 401K, and puts in 12% of his salary a year, with a slightly smaller matching amount from his employer. I had a smaller amount in my IRA transferred from a 401K when I quit my job to move south and marry him. Understand that neither of us has any debt, and the house is paid off. If there were debt, we would have dealt with that first.
We decided to take only my portion of our retirement funds, and use them to lower costs going forward. We tried to make the house more energy efficient and lower our food and water bills going forward. With what was left of my money after a 37% tax and penalty hit on withdrawals which we staggered so that it would not raise our yearly income taxes, we did the following:
- Food: we used my retirement money to install a large square foot garden, and edible landscaping consisting of various perennial food plants and trees. It also bought our initial seed stock (I'm a seed saver.) A larger and larger portion of our food comes from this established garden. My retirement funds also bought a very large amount of canning supplies and were used to build a solar dehydrator. None of this food we grow and eat ourselves is taxable income.
- Water. We had a potable-water well drilled, which supplies the garden and eventually the house. Keeps the water bill down; may replace it.
- Heating: We used my retirement money to put a very efficient airtight woodburning stove insert in our fireplace. We also used my funds to buy light duty and heavy duty chainsaws, axes, a splitting wedge and a sledgehammer. The stove has paid for itself. (Note that the edible landscaping does passive solar heating in the winter.)
- Cooling: Part of my retirement funds went to two gable fans and one solar attic fan. I also repaired and replaced window screens and added two screen doors. Note that the edible landscaping was designed to aid in shading the house in the summer.)
- insulation: He'd already done high-R batt insulation and insulated the water heater and central heating/air ducts. We used my money to add foam-core entry doors, window treatments that kept the fierce heat and occasional cold out of the house, and radiant barrier insulation in the attic.
- Security. Some of the money also went to security items like the aforementioned steel doors and better locks. We got gun safety training, and I have a concealed carry permit.
My husband still has his big 401K, but we worry that nationalizing retirement accounts could become a form of confiscation. Or that the dollar could crash. If there is a hard crash, my preps will mean survival. In a stair-step down scenario, the way I spent my retirement funds will still help us. We also used my retirement funds to buy enough silver to pay our taxes should there be a dollar crash. (Any inflation on the value of the silver will be taxable.)
Understand that our belief is that–due to population issues and peak oil alone–there will be inflation in necessities and deflation in luxuries. We tried to structure the way we used my retirement funds to address keeping necessities available and affordable.