Even if you haven’t yet entered the working world, you can probably assume you will want to retire and some point. While most Americans have similar goals for a debt-free, affordable post-working life, you might not realize how much work (outside the office) it takes to get there. You probably are not saving enough, or are at least worried that you aren’t saving enough. Don’t let your fears or lack of knowledge stop you from taking action. Calculate how much you are likely to need in retirement and use the following tips to maximize your savings.
1. Take Advantage of Savings Plans
If your employer offers a traditional 401(k) plan, enjoy the advantage of pre-tax contributions. This way, your take-home income won’t drop by as much as you are saving. If your employer offers matching contributions, even better. It’s a good idea to contribute enough to get as big of a company match as you can. You also might want to consider opening an individual retirement account to help build your nest egg even further.
2. Stash Extra Funds
Any time you come into a windfall like a raise, bonus or tax refund, instead of spending the newfound cash, try putting at least a portion into your retirement account. When you get salary increases, it’s a good idea to increase your retirement contribution percentage as well. You can treat yourself to something small, but don’t let it get in the way of the big leaps it can help you make toward retirement goals.
3. Cut Back
It may seem hard or even trivially small, but finding some expenses to painlessly cut back on can make a big difference down the road. Look back on your spending from the last year and see if there are any areas in your budget that can be reined in and redirected toward retirement savings. This can be as small as the daily cup of coffee or as big as moving to a place with lower monthly rent.
4. Automate Savings
To ensure you won’t get tempted, it can be a good idea to have part of your paychecks directly deposited into a savings account or IRA before you see the money in your checking account. By making retirement saving logistically simple, you won’t have to work up the motivation to save every month.
5. Delay Taking Social Security as Long as Possible
To maximize your hard-earned cash once you reach retirement age, it can be a good idea to wait to take Social Security benefits. For every year you can delay these payments (up to age 70), you will increase the amount you receive in the future. Even though benefits become available to you at age 62, you can increase your monthly amount every year you wait — and the additional income really adds up.
Getting started on your retirement savings is the first step. Once you have set a goal and started working toward it, you can look for creative ways to increase your contributions or maximize your accounts.
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