According to a recent Guardian study, more than 1 in 3 Americans are considering delaying retirement.1 If you’re “late to the game” in your retirement planning and are beginning to think that all hope may be lost, here’s some good news: No matter where you are on the road to retirement, it’s never too late to start making plans.
Ready to take action? Here are five things you can do right now:
Start saving. It sounds obvious, but it really is that simple. If you want to have money in retirement, you need to start saving as much as you can as early as possible. The rule of thumb in investing is the sooner you can start to invest, the higher your assets can potentially grow. Also, take a hard look at your current spending habits. Where is your money going right now? If you’re among the over 2/3rds of Americans who feel they are not good at living within their means1, make an effort to avoid tendencies to splurge on items you don’t really need. Most important, create a budget that carves out space for you to meet your savings goals, and stick to it.
Take stock of where you are. Do you already have an individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k) or other assets that may provide income during retirement? If you do, now is a good time to see what they’re worth and to calculate how much you can expect to generate from these sources each month during retirement. Start with Social Security (estimate your benefit amount here), then move on to any other assets you have, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts and defined benefit and contribution plans. Include an estimate for taxes you expect to pay. Once you have an after-tax total, compare it to your predicted retirement expenses to determine how much you need to make up. This number—your “income gap”—should be your ultimate target as you ramp up your savings.
Maximize your catch-ups. If you’re 50 or older, you can make “catch-up contributions” to certain retirement accounts (including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and traditional or Roth IRAs) above and beyond normal contribution limits. In 2016, catch-ups are up to $1,000 for IRAs and $6,000 for 401(k)s. Other IRS rules on catch-up contributions are available here.
Invest in new skills. A study by the National Institute on Aging found that a significant number of retirees continue working part-time well into their 70s. If it’s clear that you’ll need to work during your retirement to finance the lifestyle you want, now is the time to invest in the skills that may be required to land that new job.
Get professional advice. It’s natural to feel at least a little overwhelmed by the prospect of having to plan for retirement—especially if it seems like you’re running out of time. One way to make the process much easier? Work with a financial representative who understands what it takes to succeed, and who can help you on your path every step of the way.
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1 The 2016 Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional ConfidenceTM