Since 2006, National Retirement Security Week has been an annual effort to raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement. In 2020, the awareness campaign was extended to the entire month of October. We think that it’s fitting, since preparing financially for retirement is one of the most important things anyone can do! We should all be actively engaged in planning for retirement, no matter how far off it may seem. With that in mind, here are seven tips for saving for retirement!
1. Realize that your future retirement security depends on the actions that you take right now.
Many people assume that they can ignore their retirement plan until they get closer to retirement age, but this simply isn’t a good idea. No matter where you are in life, you should be setting aside income for your later years. Even if you’re just getting started in your career, start saving what you can right now – even if it’s not a large amount. Get into the habit now and you’ll see your savings grow over the years. It’s never too early to start!
2. Understand that Social Security is only one piece of the puzzle.
Don’t make the mistake of relying too heavily on Social Security. Social Security helps many Americans to fund their retirements, but it isn’t a total income replacement. Instead, it works best as a supplement to other forms of income, like retirement funds or a pension. It won’t allow you to maintain a comfortable lifestyle on its own. Additionally, not everyone is eligible for Social Security.
3. Get as much help from your employer as possible.
When saving for retirement, you should take all the help you can get. Do you have a 401(k) or 403(b) through your employer? Many workplaces offer a retirement plan and a company match. At minimum, you should be contributing up to the matched percentage. Otherwise, you’re missing out on a free contribution to your retirement and skipping an opportunity for tax benefits. If you aren’t already contributing up to the match offered by your company, start now!
4. Automate your retirement savings so you don’t even have to think about it.
When you have a 401(k) or other employer-offered savings account, the money will be taken out of your paycheck pre-tax. This is a great opportunity. When you automate your retirement savings to come out of each paycheck, you likely won’t even notice the difference – but you’ll be building your savings more and more every time you get paid! Of course, you can always add more to your retirement savings if you are able to, but the automated portion is a great baseline.
5. Find out if you can get extra opportunities to save for retirement.
Some healthcare workers, teachers, public sector employees, and nonprofit employees have a leg up when it comes to retirement savings. You may be able to contribute twice as much to your retirement plan with double retirement plan contributions. Plus, this offers a tax advantage.
While many people are not eligible to claim double retirement plan contributions, there may still be extra opportunities for you. If you are a taxpayer with a mid-to-low income, you may be able to claim a tax credit for up to 50% of your contribution. This will offset the cost of funding your retirement account.
6. Use multiple retirement savings tools when possible.
401(k)s are very commonly offered by employers, so you should certainly have one of those. IRAs or simple IRAs are also common. You can contribute to both a 401(k) and IRA at the same time.
Roth IRAs are available to those who make less than $135,000 (single) or $199,999 (married filing jointly). Again, you can contribute to both a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA at the same time.
HSAs, or health savings accounts, are an excellent tool for meeting healthcare costs. Some health insurance plans will allow you to put money away in an HSA, tax free. You may use these savings at any time, tax-free for allowable medical expenses, or you can save it and let it grow over time. As medical expenses rise, your HSA may be a lifesaver in the future.
There are limitations to each of the common types of retirement savings accounts. Find out what you are eligible for and contribute to them to the best of your ability.
How Can You Improve Your Retirement Security?
Is there anything you can do to boost your retirement savings right now? October is a great month to do so! Check out the many National Requirement Security Month resources that are available, and set yourself up for a financially healthy future!