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Ways to Catch Up on Retirement

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In the past, we’ve looked at retirement planning strategies for specific populations, like self-employed Americans or women. But what if someone is part of the segment of Americans who aren’t that well-prepared for retirement?

According to a survey conducted by BankRate.com, 36% of surveyed adults say they didn’t have a penny saved for retirement. Around 25% of the people aged 50-64 in the survey reported they had yet to start their retirement savings. These findings are consistent with data found in previous surveys. In fact, previous data shows there’s a wide gap between Americans’ retirement expectations and what they’re actually prepared for.

A big part of it is because many American households live paycheck to paycheck. So what steps can you implement to catch up on retirement savings? Read on for some helpful tips.

Effective Retirement Prep Strategies

Take advantage of tax-deferred accounts – One simple way is capitalizing on the benefits of a 401(k) and an IRA. Current annual contribution limits are set at $18,000 for a 401(k) and at $5,500 for an IRA. If you’re over 50 years old, you can contribute up to an extra $6,000 into a 401(k) and an extra $1,000 into your IRA. Taking the money directly out of your paycheck will help you keep on track with your goal.

Consider alternative vehicles for stashing retirement savings – What about high-income earners or people with just a few years left over to catch up? Traditional retirement accounts have set contribution limits that make it more difficult to accelerate savings and keep it safe from taxation. For people in this situation, other vehicles, such as annuities, can be used for tax-advantaged savings. They also offer the ability to help you meet retirement financial and income goals later on.

An annuity allows for additional, pre-tax savings to be put away. However, that doesn't mean it is for everyone. Be sure to receive guidance from a qualified financial professional if considering this option.

Wipe out the debt – Saving is an optimal goal. But it’s also important to remember debt will continue to be a burden in retirement. If you work toward paying off long-term debts now, they will pose fewer constraints to your finances in the future. Experts recommend your home mortgage or vehicle loans as long-term debts on which to focus.

Lengthen the time you’re working – People who are currently retired or approaching retirement are opting to work longer. Part-time employment is a solid choice for income supplementation. It’s also another means of staying active and engaged in retirement.

If you’re still working, it may be worth it to consider a longer period of employment so you have greater earnings to contribute. On the flip side – if you’re considering employment in retirement, it’s important to recognize the opportunities for employment may not always be available. Factors such as decline in health or unexpected life events can change a person’s employment capacity quickly.

Don’t take shortcuts – When catching up on retirement savings, shortcuts may be enticing. But it’s critical to employ strategies that align with your current life situation. As you get closer to your retirement date, be mindful of how much of your money is in market-based investments. If the market takes a downturn, you’re not only losing money – you also have a shorter timespan for recovery and build-up toward retirement savings once again.

Portfolio diversification is key. Be sure your portfolio is suited to your age, needs, future goals, and other individual factors.

Need Help?

At SafeMoney.com, we recognize education is the first step toward any retirement planning. Use the articles we have on here for your educational betterment. And when you're ready for personal guidance, meeting with a financial professional can help bring retirement peace of mind.

Use our Find a Licensed Advisor section to connect directly with an independent financial professional, and to request a personal strategy session to discuss your needs and goals. And should you have any questions or concerns, call 877.476.9723.

Author: Super User

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