Have you ever wondered, “Have I saved enough money to retire?” Or maybe, “Will I be able to continue enjoying my current lifestyle when I’m no longer working?” If so, you’re on the right track. The fact that you are even thinking about these concerns shows that retirement is on your mind and you’re ready to do your part to make it successful.
Though financial professionals across the board recommend saving 10-20% of income towards retirement, few people actually do. The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2016 Retirement Confidence Survey reveals that 31% of Americans admit that neither they nor their spouses have saved for retirement and 66% of those who have saved have less than $100,000. Thankfully, regardless of how much you have built up in your nest egg, it’s not too late to bulk up your savings and catch up for retirement in a hurry. Here are six steps you can take today:
1. Save More
The most obvious thing you can do is save more. Cut back on expenses, channel a healthy percentage of any raises and bonuses directly to savings, and automate savings increases of 1% of your paycheck every few months. It may not seem like you are making much of an impact, but every dollar helps.
Your increased savings can be invested into your company 401(k) or 403(b) plan or your personal IRA. If you are over 50, you (and your spouse, even if only you work) can invest an extra $1,000 per year into an IRA for a total of $6,500 for 2017. The catch-up contribution for those over 50 is even greater for 401(k) and 403(b) plans at $6,000, for a total contribution limit of $24,000. If you’ve managed to max out your IRA and workplace retirement plan and still aren’t saving enough, you can open a taxable brokerage account for your additional savings. You can also consider other options that have even better tax advantages, but we don’t have enough time to talk about those types of accounts here.
2. Invest For Growth
Your goal retirement date doesn’t have to dictate your investments’ time horizon. You may be retiring in 10 years, but you don’t need to set a 10-year horizon for your investments because you’ll only need a small portion of your nest egg in the early years. The rest of your money may stay invested for another 20 to 40 years. Make sure you invest with the right perspective so you can achieve as much growth as possible.
One thing to remember, though, is not to try to chase unreasonable returns as a way to make up for a lack of retirement savings. I see this all the time and frankly – it scares me when I see an investment portfolio that’s geared towards hyper growth when the folks sitting in front of me want to retire in just a couple of years. With the proper asset allocation, your portfolio can see healthy growth without questionable, high-risk investments. Trust me, high risk investment aren’t worth the risk of losing half your money when the next market correction decides to strike.
3. Evaluate Your Insurance Coverage
It’s all too common for people to purchase a life insurance policy and then let it gather dust in a drawer. As you approach retirement, it’s an ideal time to review your policies to ensure you actually need the coverage you have. There’s a good chance your needs have changed since you first purchased the policy and you had a young family. Cut back on the coverage you don’t need to save on your premium. This isn’t always the case, so be sure to check with a qualified and licensed Financial Planner who is also a licensed Insurance Agent to evaluate these needs with you. Insurance is a complicated world, so be sure and get help in this area.
Also, you should make sure that you have Long-Term Care insurance in place once you are over 60. Nothing drains a nest egg faster than living in a nursing home and paying out of pocket. Someone turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services, (1) so it is important to be proactive and take care of this aspect of your retirement plan.
4. Pay Off Consumer Debt
The less debt you have when you enter retirement, the better. Reducing your consumer debt before retiring helps you lower your monthly expenses and enables your savings to grow and last longer. Do yourself a favor and don’t buy that brand new car right before you retire. It’s not worth it.
Review all current debts you face and compare interest rates and balances. This can help you decide which to pay off first. Once you’ve eliminated credit card and auto debt, see how you can aggressively pay off your mortgage. Not having a mortgage could reduce your monthly expenses by up to a third and make a significant impact on how you spend your savings.
5. Downsize Your Home
Chances are that as you near retirement, your housing needs are different than they were when you were raising a family. Many people downsize their homes prior to retirement as a way to reduce or eliminate debt and reduce utility expenses. In addition to the financial benefits of downsizing, a smaller home and yard require less work and cleaning and a one-story home could be much more practical as you age.
6. Delay Retirement
While this isn’t my first pick, some folks will be forced to delay retirement because they haven’t saved enough early on. So if you’re finding yourself in the bus that’s “late to the party” then here’s a few benefits to delaying retirement or continuing to work part-time during retirement. Here are some of the top reasons to work longer:
You Can Save More
The longer you work and the more you earn, the more you can save.
You Will Have Fewer Years To Live Off Of Savings
Every additional year that you work is one less year that you will be depending on savings and draining your nest egg.
You Can Delay Claiming Social Security
Social Security retirement benefits can be claimed anytime between age 62-70. However, the longer you wait to file for benefits the greater the benefit you will receive. If you file at age 62, you will only receive 75% of your earned benefit, but if you wait until age 70, you will receive 132% of your earned benefit. This can make a substantial difference in your retirement income for the rest of your life.
Don’t Do It Alone
There are a number of options for boosting your retirement savings, but investing, insurance, and Social Security rules can be complicated and confusing. This is why it’s important to turn to an experienced financial professional to guide you as you work to make the most of your money. At Epic Trust Investment Advisors, we want to partner with you to help guide you to realizing your retirement dreams and overcoming the insecurities and challenges that come with taking this significant step. No matter how old you are or how little you have saved, it’s never too late as long as you get started today. Give us a call at 509-591-0014 or email me at [email protected].
Jeffery Lewis, CFP® is the president of Epic Trust Investment Advisors and a financial planner with more than a decade of industry experience helping clients prepare for their financial futures. Serving as a financial advocate and coach, his company helps folks prepare for a long retirement and to use their money as a force for good by spending it in the service of others. Along with his degree in business management, Jeffery is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor®. To learn more about Jeffery, connect with him on LinkedIn or send him an email at [email protected].