How to Jump-Start Your Retirement Savings at Any Age
One in three Americans has less than $5,000 saved for retirement. Whether you’re counting down the days until retirement or it feels far, far away, you need to take a closer look at your retirement strategy, and there’s no better time to do so than at the start of a new year.
Here are our hassle- and headache-free strategies you can implement today to add significant value to your savings.
You made it! Just because you’re no longer working doesn’t mean you can’t add significant value to your retirement savings.
- Save Social Security for 70: If you have savings, an IRA, or other sources of retirement income, see if you can delay withdrawing Social Security. You can start collecting at 62—but at 25% less than your full benefits. As Merrill Lynch advises, if you can hold off, you stand to increase your overall Social Security benefit. Benefits, and full retirement age, vary based on the year you were born. For example, if you were born in 1950, the full retirement age is 66. This means you’ll get 100% of your Social Security benefit at 66. However, if you wait until 70, you’ll receive _132% _of your benefit.
- Change Your Scenery: If you don’t need “all that house,” downsizing or relocating can save thousands. Explore other neighborhoods and areas, near or far, and compare the cost of living. Lower property taxes and reduced home maintenance can make a big difference to your budget.
- Lower Your Tax Burden: After you stop working and before you start withdrawing from Social Security, you may benefit from being in a lower tax bracket. As Sarah O’Brien reports for CNBC, converting a traditional IRA or 401(k) to a Roth IRA, cashing in savings bonds, and selling off long-term investments are all worth exploring while you’re in this lower tax bracket.
In Your 50s
It’s not hyperbole that 50 is the new 40. Many people feel they’re just hitting their stride, with more doors opening rather than closing. As such, you need to keep your retirement savings aggressive.
- Diversify your portfolio: Putting all your eggs in one investment basket isn’t the safest bet. A rich mix of stocks, bonds, and other funds may prove healthier down the road. How to Diversify Your Retirement Portfolio at Any Age
- Work longer: The longer you stay active in the workforce, the more your retirement balance will rise and the fewer lifestyle changes you’ll have to make. Another bonus to waiting is your Social Security earnings will continue to grow, especially if you wait until age 66 or older.
In Your 40s
Now is your time to maximize your potential for future payout. Whether you started early or need to make up for lost time, your 40s are the decade to make a concentrated push toward your retirement goals.
- Let go of debt once and for all: Shake free of credit card, student loans, and other debt to accelerate your savings. Clearing those accounts now also minimizes monthly payments tomorrow. One way to get rid of debt and jump-start savings is via a low-rate balance transfer credit card, suggests Bankrate.
- Put your paycheck to work: If your employer offers a workplace retirement plan—e.g., a 401(k)—carpe diem. Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey says this is the easiest and often most effective strategy for saving. What makes him so sure? Well, if your employer offers a match, you’re doubling your savings potential. Even if they don’t, a 401(k) can provide a set-it-and-forget-it approach to saving that will slowly add up.
In Your 30s
Retirement feels like a long way away, but by starting now, you’ll have less of a catch-up game to play later.
- Turn up your 401(k) contributions: Giving up part of your paycheck to a 401(k) may seem scary at first. Start small and try increasing your contribution every six months to a year. Many providers offer an “auto increase” option online so you don’t have to set reminders or psych yourself up.
- Open an investment account: A diverse portfolio is important at any age. In your 30s, you can venture to take on more risk than other age groups. NerdWallet advises putting 70–80% in stocks and stock mutual funds as you’ll have more runway to tolerate risk and reap the rewards.
- This is the time to understand what alternatives to 401(k)s you should consider investing in, such as an HAS account or variable annuity.
No matter what age you are, it’s never too early (or late) to grow your retirement savings. If you’re a homeowner, you have the additional option of tapping into your home’s equity to accentuate your savings and achieve your retirement goals.
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The opinions expressed in this post are for informational purposes only. To determine the best financing for your personal circumstances and goals, consult with a licensed advisor.