In a perfect world, you’ve been saving a large portion of your salary every year in a retirement account. That money has been earning interest and you’ll be able to retire comfortably, maybe even early. The reality of retirement, however, is sobering. 52% of households aged 55 and older have little to no retirement savings, according to the Government Accountability Office.
No matter how close you are to retirement or how little you have saved up, it’s never too late to take immediate action. Social Security and Medicare will most likely not be enough to cover your retirement expenses, so start saving and budgeting your money. Consider these tips when planning your retirement.
1. Pay off any high-interest debt as quickly as you can to clear the way for savings.
2. Find ways to shave dollars from your daily expenses so you have more money to contribute to savings. This involves reducing discretionary expenses and making lifestyle changes to free up cash.
3. Put any extra money you receive toward savings: tax refunds, salary increases, bonuses, even cash gifts.
4. Increase your earnings before you take full retirement. Take a second job, for a few additional years or prepare for a part-time job during your early retirement.
5. Target a savings rate outside of your comfort zone. Recognize that this will require exceptional discipline, especially if you have been saving little to nothing so far.
6. Contribute the maximum allowed amount to your IRA (Individual Retirement Account) or 401(k) every year. If you have matching contributions from your employer, be sure you’re getting the full amount of this “free money.” These investment plans may also give you tax savings now or when you start withdrawals, depending on your choice of investment fund.
7. You may want to contribute more to your IRA for yourself and your spouse if you are over 50. You can make catch-up contributions to your Traditional or Roth IRA up to $1,000 in 2014 and 2015. Catch-up contributions to an IRA are due by the due date of your tax return (not including extensions).
8. Check with the Social Security Administration to understand how your retirement start date impacts benefits. The later you start drawing benefits prior to age 70, the larger your monthly benefit will be. No matter when you retire, be sure to sign up for Medicare at age 65.
9. Explore Traditional and Roth IRAs to get the best tax treatment based on your expected income levels over time. Consider deferring taxes now with a Traditional IRA while you’re working, or pay taxes now with the ability to withdraw tax-free funds from your Roth account after you retire.
10. Investigate your eligibility for the Saver’s Credit, available to low-to-moderate income families to match a portion of your IRA or 401(k) savings.
While retirement is a lifetime goal for many people, some arrive unprepared. Once you begin to make changes and start saving, you may be surprised by how quickly your retirement funds add up. Don’t delay the process.
Discover Bank, Member FDIC