Ask any personal finance expert and they will tell you – it’s never too late to save money. While the general financial advice is to save while you’re young and enjoy the fruits of your labor when you’re older, no two people have the same financial path. Plus, even the best-laid plans can go sideways, and you just can’t predict what cards life will deal you. Even if you’re late to the game, don’t fret, there are still a number of things you can do to boost your 401K and retirement savings account.
Increase your contributions
The first step to take when playing a bit of catch-up on your retirement funds is to maximize the amount you’re contributing to your retirement savings accounts These retirement plans are easy investments, plus you’ll also be able to defer the taxes on that income until you withdraw it later on. Upping the amount of money you’re automatically transferring to the fund is a hassle-free way to increase your nest egg. If you’re one of the many Americans that have started a little later on their retirement, the IRS allows you to save even more. There is a maximum amount you can contribute to your retirement plan each year, which is based on your age and the calendar year. For 2021, contribution maximums for those under 50 is $19,500, but $26,000 for anyone over 50.
Learn how much money you’ll need
One of the hardest parts about saving for retirement is imagining your life beyond employment — what it will look like both personally and financially. While you may think you don’t need to live off of much, you’d be surprised what kind of expenses you accrue in a year. Most investment experts agree that during retirement, you should withdraw no more than 3 or 4 percent each year from your accounts. This is generally accepted as a safe withdrawal rate, which ensures that the interest you earn on the money replenishes the amount of money depleted. To follow this advice, the math works out that in order to sustain $30,000 for a year of expenses, you’ll need to have $1 million in savings if you want retirement savings account to last forever.
Know how much money is coming to you
If you worked in the public sector or are relying on social security for your retirement, one important step is to know how much you stand to receive. Take a look at the benefits statement plan for your retirement savings account or your pension, if you have one, which should be sent to you once every three years. Once you’ve contributed to social security for 10 years, you can also learn your estimated monthly benefits, which is based on your 35 years of highest earnings.
Look for ways to cut costs and pay down debt
While it may not be the most appealing way to save for retirement, reducing your annual spending and debt can be a great way to ensure you’re financially secure for the future. To do this, inventory your debts: credit cards, car payments, personal loans, etc. Upon closer inspection, you might be surprised to realize how much interest you’re paying from something that you could have already paid off – a move that will prove financially beneficial in the long run. It may make sense to make extra mortgage payments, especially if your payments are still being applied to the interest. Additionally, another way to increase your savings is to redirect the money you had planned to spend elsewhere. While they’re hard calls, cutting your vacation budget or diverting funds away from your child’s college tuition funds are all examples of opportunities for your money to be reinvested in the name of an easier, better retirement.
Research other investment opportunities
Whether you’re investing in conservative bonds, traditional IRAs, or a higher-yielding money-market fund, that choice generally comes down to personal preference. No matter what you’re currently doing, it’s worth taking a second look to make sure your money is working for you in the way that you want it to. You’ll especially want to do this if your retirement account is something you set up in your 20s but haven’t looked at in years. The market, and your options, have likely changed, so it’s worth doing a little digging to see how much you could be earning through other options. If you’re still unsure of what to do to increase your retirement savings, talk to a fee-based financial advisor instead of those who are commission-based. This is the cheapest way to get expert advice on how to best save for retirement.