It’s Only Too Late to Save for Retirement if You Don’t Start Now!
Does the dreaded question, “How much money will I need in retirement” tie your stomach in knots? Millions of your peers are in the same boat having saved precious little, if anything at all, to supplement their Social Security benefits during retirement.
Waiting until age 50 or 60 to start saving for retirement is not ideal. It’s late but not too late. Anything you do now can improve your future.
DIVE IN. You don’t have the luxury to gently ease into retirement savings waters. Forget about the mistakes you’ve made in the past and dive in. Focus your full attention on the years ahead that you have to save.
KEEP WORKING. Every situation is unique but generally as long as you are healthy, you need to keep working. You may be tempted to hang it up on the first day you can draw Social Security benefits, but do you really want to join the 10 million American retires who are currently struggling to live on Social Security alone? Enough said.
SAVE LIKE MAD. Let’s say you are 50 and begin immediately by placing $2,000 in a Roth IRA or a tax-deferred retirement account, which is invested in stocks where it earns 8 percent annually (historically that’s been the long-term return for investing in stocks). And you add $2,000 each year (about $40 a week). You’ll have about $210,000 by the time you really need it at age 80. Or if you double that to $4,000 a year ($80 a week), you’ll have $418,000 in your account on your 80th birthday.
MAKE IT AUTOMATIC. There’s an unwritten rule of saving: You don’t miss what you don’t see. Set up an automatic savings deposit with your bank or employer where a set amount is deducted from your paycheck and sent directly to your savings or investment account.
DECREASE EXPENSES. If things are already tight for you, finding that $40 or $80 a week might seem impossible. But it’s not. In fact, that amount may be leaking out of your life completely undetected. To recover this leaking money, do this: For the next 30 days keep a daily spending journal where you record every expenditure—no matter how small, whether you write a check or paid with plastic. You need to see where you money is going. At the end of the month, divide your spending into categories like groceries, gasoline and utilities. Once you have this in writing it will be easy to see where you can make significant cuts to free up the money you need for your savings plan.
GET THE MATCH. If your employer offers a matching 401(k) plan, sign up to participate, if your have not already. For each dollar you contribute to the plan, your employer matches it up to a set amount, like 3 percent, of your gross pay. That’s free money!
CONVERT ASSETS TO CASH. Take a look through your home for items you own that have ceased to bring joy to your life. Perhaps you have collectibles and antiques you could convert to cash to jumpstart your retirement savings.
FRUGALITY IS TRENDING. There is nothing “poor” about living frugally. Frugality carries a sense of good stewardship — of carefully managing one’s resources. Stop adding to debt, stop living on credit. Being frugal is a good and responsible way to live.
So how much will you need in savings to retire? That all depends on the expenses you bring with you to that season of your life. Get rid of your debt, cut expenses and start saving as if your life depends on it. It just might.