Is It Ever Too Late to Start Saving for Retirement?
Saving money can be challenging thanks to our paychecks, our financial responsibilities, and our self-discipline. Factor in saving for retirement and it may all seem overwhelming, especially if you are middle-aged and getting a late start.
But don’t panic.
The National Institute on Retirement Security found that the average household headed by someone approaching retirement age, the median retirement account balance was $14,500. For those 55-64 with retirement accounts, they had a $104,000 median balance (as of 2013) — too small for many.
Sound familiar? If so, start thinking about why you haven’t been saving for retirement and take action by setting goals and moving forward.
1. Sign up for a 401K.
Sign up for your employer’s 401k ASAP and automatically set withdrawals to meet ones matched by your employer. If there is a 50% match to employee contributions, such as 5% of your salary, a $50,000 annual salary will bring in $2,500 with $1,250 more from your employer.
2. Play catch-up.
If you’re 50 years old or higher, you can play “catch up” through your IRA and your 401K. Between the two you can contribute $30,500 annually ($24,000 to a 401k and $6,500 for an IRA).
If you are self-employed, you can work contributions from an employer and employee 401(k).In 2015, this amount may go up to $59,000 annually.
3. End debt.
Credit card debt may be taking away from your saving so begin paying balances off first on those with the highest interest rates. Pay more than the minimum on each credit card.
Commit to curtailing your credit card spending. Once you end this debt, you can put this money toward retirement savings.
4. Reduce living expenses.
Cutting back on your living expenses, including entertainment, vacations and other non-essential costs, can provide some funds. Developing good savings habits from these cuts can continue into retirement, adding money to your pocket.
Downsizing your home by moving to a smaller dwelling, a cheaper geographic area, or a multi-family house, is another way to cut back.
5. Speak with a financial planner.
Talking to a financial planner may alleviate your anxiety. If you don’t have one, your company may have resources to find a certified financial planner (CFP). Ask family or friends for a good recommendation or check out these two websites: The National Association of Personal Investment Advisors (NAPFA) or the Financial Planning Association.
6. Add to your income.
Taking on more work from your full-time job or a new part-time job can add money to your retirement account. Don’t spend this money. Think of it only as savings money.
7. Review retirement goals.
Ask yourself this question: Can you delay your retirement by a few years? If so, it can provide an opportunity to save and grow your money.
Another option is to hold off on receiving your Social Security, possibly until you are age 70. This benefit rises 8% annually every year after you hit 62 (the earliest to take the benefit).
Before you know it, you’ll see additional funds.
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