It’s Never Too Late to Get Started
Have you begun to save for retirement? It is never too early to start planning for your retirement, and in a perfect world, we would all start saving for retirement at age 25 and life would never throw any curveballs to send us off track. Of course, this is far from a perfect world, and that's why so many Americans find themselves playing catch-up and carrying anxiety about never achieving their retirement savings goals.
Today, I want to offer you some powerful techniques you can use to accelerate your savings right now - even if you've waited longer than you would hope to begin saving. Below, we’ll look at seven tactics to help you get serious - and successful - about your retirement nest egg.
Maximizing Employer Contributions
Do you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan like a 401(k) or a 403(b)? If so, you may just have a secret weapon available to you for retirement savings: the employer match. Many companies will match their employee’s retirement contributions up to a certain amount, meaning you can access free money just by contributing a certain amount from your paycheck each month. The key to maximizing this second contributor to your account is making sure you understand what your employer's max contribution is - then do everything you can to make sure you get it. For example, if your employer matches $0.50 to a dollar up to 6% of your pay, you must contribute at least 6% of your pay in order to receive the maximum matching amount. This may mean setting aside more from each paycheck than you typically do, but the payoff in retirement will be well worth your trouble.
If you're contributing to a retirement plan (such as a 401(k) plan) through your job, or you have a Traditional IRA, you can receive favorable tax treatment from the IRS, too. With these accounts, you won't pay any federal income taxes on your contributions, leaving you with a greater ability to build your savings in the present. Then, you'll pay taxes on your contributions and earnings when you begin taking distributions in retirement. These accounts do have contribution limits in place, which you can check out here for 401(k)s and here for IRAs.
Some 401(k) plans offer Roth contributions in addition to pre-tax 401(k). That means you can use after-tax dollars to contribute and the distributions - including earnings - will be tax free. If you believe your future income is higher, then a Roth 401(k) is more beneficial than a pre-tax 401(k). You're allowed to split between the Roth and pre-tax as long as the total doesn't exceed the contribution limits.
A Roth IRA is similar to Roth 401(k) in tax treatment. You can learn more about the Roth IRA by reading this blog post.
Increase Contributions Gradually
As you learn about a potential company match and the IRS’ contributing limits for certain types of accounts, you can better goal-set for how much to set aside each month - especially if you're not yet maximizing your savings. However, it can be daunting to learn that you need to save, say, an additional $600 every month. Rather than make such a big change all at once, use the “One Percent Trick” instead. Gradually increase your retirement contributions by just one percent each month or quarter, and soon you'll be saving a lot more without feeling a big hit to your paycheck all at once.
Make the Most of Your Health Savings Account (HSA)
If you've heard lots of buzz in recent years about Health Savings Accounts, it's for good reason. HSAs offer a triple-tax benefit you simply can't get with other types of savings accounts. You can max out contributions free from federal and state income tax and invest the money with no tax on your earnings either. You can also withdraw funds tax-free for qualified medical expenses. This particular detail makes HSAs ideal for retirees because studies show that the average retiree's medical costs are 15% higher than their annual expenses.
So, check to see whether your employer offers an HSA plan and if you're already using one then consider upping your contributions. If you are self-employed and do not pay yourself a salary, you can set up an HSA account on your own and deduct the contributions on your income tax returns. Be sure to check out contribution limits.
Set Yourself Up for Growth Over Time
You know what they say, “With risk comes reward.” No, no one wants to take too much risk with their hard-saved dollars, but it makes sense to dedicate at least some of your savings to stocks because, historically, they offer the most potential for your money to grow over time. Every person's risk tolerance is different, so aim for an investment mix that you feel comfortable with, while also positioning yourself for growth over the long term.
SEE ALSO: Lifetime Financial Goals
Consider Delaying Retirement
This is probably not the advice you're hoping for because, let's face it, no one wants to delay the retirement they've been dreaming of for years! However, working for just 2-3 more years can have a major impact on your nest egg. Consider the following example:
Maybe you're 40 years old with nothing saved for retirement yet, and you have an annual income of $80,000 with two percent raises every year. Between your own contributions and matches from your employer, you can start saving 15% of your income annually toward retirement. Let's say you decide to retire at 65 and you've earned a 7% return on your investments each year before retirement, leaving you with about $830,000 in savings. Not bad, right? However, consider what happens if you wait three additional years and retire at 68 instead: you'll end up with $1.08 million in savings instead. That's a full 30% more from just three more years of work. Check out your own scenario using this helpful calculator from Bankrate.
Seek Knowledgeable Advice
There are so many considerations that go into retirement, not to mention a plethora of tools and strategies to help you achieve your goals. Sorting through them on your own can be confusing and overwhelming. How much do you need to save? Are you on target to get there? Does your risk tolerance match your current portfolio? A seasoned financial professional can help you sort through these questions and more.
If you're ready to partner with a financial advisor to level up your retirement savings strategies, let's start a conversation today. At Echo Wealth Management, we take the complexity out of financial planning and give you the confidence you need to follow your financial and life goals. Let us put our expertise to work for you today.