Feeling anxious about your retirement savings? Worrying about retirement is normal, especially when it comes to wondering if your funds will last. If you’ve done the math and feel that your nest egg isn’t sufficient, the best time to act is now. Whether you never got started saving, had to dip into your funds or just feel like you haven’t set aside enough, there are several steps that can help you catch up. Here are a few tips for giving your retirement funds a boost.
- Maximize your contributions
If your company provides a matching contribution to a retirement plan, such as a 401(k), try to take advantage of their full match. Even if the retirement plan offered isn’t particularly great, turning down matching funds is turning down free money, and each year you miss out is a wasted opportunity. If your employer doesn’t provide a match, you may still want to consider increasing or maxing out your contributions to these tax-advantaged accounts. Tightening up your budget to do so may seem intimidating, but the sooner you make the move, the more you’ll benefit from the compounding returns on your investments.
- Invest your windfalls
Contributing to your retirement fund on a regular basis may be difficult or not possible, which can make investing found money an important opportunity. Tax refunds, bonuses, gift money and inheritances are all examples that may be put to better use as part of your retirement fund. Rolling these windfalls into your nest egg before you have a chance to spend them is a good habit that can potentially make a big difference when it comes time to retire.
- Contribute to an IRA
If you don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement account – and even if you do – contributing to an IRA can be a great idea. Like 401(k)s, IRAs provide tax advantages on your investments, but they allow you to choose your own investment company, meaning you can often invest with lower fees and more options. As of 2017, you can contribute $5,500 of earned income a year ($6,500 for those 50 and over) to an IRA. You’ll need to take into account employer matches, tax advantages, contribution limits and investment fees when deciding where and how much to distribute your contributions among your retirement accounts and whether to choose the Traditional or Roth versions of the IRA.
- Work longer
While this may be the least appealing option, it can be the best late-term solution to building up your retirement fund. Working longer means building up more savings, delaying the depletion of what you’ve already saved and holding off on accepting Social Security (and therefore receiving a larger check in the future). Stepping down to a part-time job is another option, although this may impact your Social Security. At a certain age, you may be required to take minimum retirement distributions, however. One less-obvious benefit of working longer: some studies show it has a positive impact on the health of retirement-age workers.
- Pay off Debts
Contributing to retirement accounts and earning a return on your money is important, but that may not be your biggest priority if you have high-interest debts. Especially if you have interest rates in the double digits, such as credit card debt, paying down these debts may provide a bigger benefit than putting the money into savings or investments. Refinancing your debt into a lower interest rate may also be an attractive option, especially since retiring may complicate your ability to secure new financing. If you feel that you have more debt than you can ever hope to repay, you may want to consult the advice of a debt attorney.
Saving for a retirement is an imposing challenge for many, but if you take smart action sooner rather than later, you can give yourself the best chance to enjoy your golden years in comfort and security.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as tax, financial or retirement planning advice. Please consult a professional for advice on your specific situation.