Saving for retirement can be overwhelming with all of the different investment options available. Some people will put off saving for retirement because they don’t want to make a mistake with their money or think they don’t have enough income to sacrifice each month to make the short-term hits worthwhile. Other people think that they can start saving for retirement later, but they are caught playing catch-up when later finally arrives. It doesn’t matter if you are just entering the workforce or are hoping to exit it soon, the worst thing you can be doing with your finances at any age is not saving for retirement. Below are a few suggestions on how best to utilize your resources throughout your life to successfully save for retirement.
What to think about in your 20s
This may seem like the most difficult age to start saving for retirement with all of the other financial responsibilities weighing people down, like student debt. However, saving a little bit consistently in your 20s will compound into a hefty sum by the time you’re ready to use it for retirement. Because you have time on your side when it comes to investing, you can afford to invest more of your money into riskier, but eventually highly rewarding, options such as stocks. Investing in a niche you’re comfortable with and learning to weather the economy’s ups and downs can help you reach your long-term financial goals more quickly.
If you’re lucky enough to work for an employer who offers matching contributions through a 401k plan, take advantage of the free money by contributing at least the maximum matching amount. You will also want to research the differences between traditional and Roth IRAs, especially if you qualify for both, and determine which will benefit you the most in the long-run. Even though it may seem difficult to start saving now, financial burdens only tend to increase the older you get.
What to think about in your 40s
This is the age where most people fall behind in their contributions for staying on track with their long-term goals. You may have children’s college tuition, aging parents, and other obligations to take care of. However, neglecting retirement contributions or, worse, borrowing from your retirement can have a significant impact on your overall total at retirement. For instance, contributing just $1,000 annually after age 40 versus an IRA maximum contribution of $5,500 throughout your whole life can cause you to lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you reach retirement.
As you transition closer to retirement age, you should also think about transitioning some of your more risky stock options into safer investments such as bonds. The closer to retirement you get, the less risky you want to be with your hard-earned money.
What to think about in your 60s
You may be thinking about retirement more than ever at this stage in life, and hopefully you started taking advantage of catch-up contributions for both your IRA ($1,000 more per year) and your 401k ($6,000 more per year) at age 50 ½. Your house should be close to, if not fully, paid off so you don’t have to worry about that expense in retirement. Most of your funds should be in safer investments by now so you don’t have to rely on a turbulent market to swing in your favor when you need to start taking distributions. It’s important to meet with your financial advisor to create an action plan for required distributions and how they will affect your accounts. Lastly, you may want to consider delaying your social security benefits until age 70 to really maximize those payments once they start arriving.