If you are someone who hasn’t made regular contributions to your 401(k) plan or been investing in an IRA since you were 23, then you may find you are approaching retirement feeling financially unprepared. With so many other financial obligations – college tuition, your daughter’s wedding, health care costs, and even daily living expenses – you may have short-changed your retirement fund over the years. Just because you are getting a late start doesn’t mean you can’t accumulate savings quickly and meet your retirement goals. But, it’s time to face the issue head-on. There are strategies to help you focus on retirement savings and make up for lost time. Remember, your investment time horizon is the rest of your life, not your retirement date.
Be informed. To meet your retirement goals, you need to figure out how much money you have, how much you need, and what it will take to make up the difference. You’ll need to estimate your expenses after retirement throughout your life expectancy. To get a clever idea of your proposed Social Security benefits, visit www.ssa.gov to review detailed benefits information or request a copy of your statement. Be sure to talk to your human resource representative to determine if you are eligible for pension benefits through your company. You’ll need all of this information to set up a clear strategy for meeting your retirement goals.
Max out retirement savings contributions. One of the easiest ways to save for retirement is to participate in an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k). If your employer offers one and you are eligible, it is usually wise to contribute as much as you can. And, if your employer matches any portion of your contribution, your savings will grow even more quickly. If you’ve already made the maximum contribution to your 401(k), you may want to consider other retirement savings vehicles such as an IRA. If you are self-employed there are other options to consider such as Individual(k) or SIMPLE IRA. There are contribution limits and restrictions for each of these plans, so be sure you understand the rules and regulations.
Increase savings with “catch-up” contributions. The standard amount the government allows you to contribute to a 401(k) plan is $18,500 annually in 2018; however, if you are over 50, you can take advantage of “catch-up” contributions by saving an additional $6,000 in your 401(k) plan for a total of $24,500 in contributions per year. Be sure to check out the details of your company’s plan to ensure you are eligible for the maximum contribution. If you are over 50 and contribute to an IRA, you are eligible to contribute an additional $1,000.
Plan to work longer. As we are living longer, many people are planning for a retirement far different than the one chosen by their parents. Survey results show many people see their retirement as a time for “learning and self-discovery”, for “reinventing oneself” and for a “new beginning”. Almost nine in 10 (88%) see it as a new phase of personal growth and development. Six in 10 say they plan to work because they want to, not because they have to. Whether you delay your retirement date or work part-time in retirement, the additional earned income can help build up your retirement accounts and help preserve the assets you already have. Putting off full retirement may also increase your Social Security income, help maximize your retirement plan benefits, and offer a smoother transition into your retirement years.
Make smart investment decisions. Even if you have reached your retirement date, you need to make your savings last. As modern medicine continues to keep us alive for longer and longer, Americans in their early 60s can expect to live another 20 years past retirement age at a minimum. Measure your tolerance for risk against your long- and short-term goals and be as aggressive as your comfort level will allow.
Get started today. You’ve still got time to make changes and build your nest egg. Regardless of how you decide to invest your money, the important thing is to develop a plan and get started now. A professional financial advisor can help you determine the best strategies for reaching your goals and maintaining financial security throughout retirement.
The views expressed represent the opinions of Benedetti, Gucer & Associates and are subject to change. These views are not intended as a forecast, a guarantee of future results, investment recommendation, or an offer to buy or sell any securities. The information provided is of a general nature and should not be construed as investment advice or to provide any investment, tax, financial or legal advice or service to any person.
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