Want to know how to build, protect and grow your retirement savings? One of our favorite sources of practical advice comes from the 70th-anniversary issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. In “5 Time-Tested Tactics to Save for Retirement,” Kiplinger’s editors shared some of their best tips.
Start Now. A 25-year-old who saves $450 a month in a tax-deferred retirement account and earns an average yearly return of 7% will have about $1.1 million at age 65. If he or she waits until age 35 to start saving, they’d have to save $950 a month to reach the same balance by age 65. You should aim to save 15% of your income, including any employer match for your retirement plan.
Take advantage of employer incentives. For your company’s 401(k), you can contribute up to $18,000 ($24,000 for people 50 and older) in 2017 to this pretax account. Your employer may also add another 4% to 6% of your pay, and possibly more. Try to save 15% of your income, including the company match, from the beginning of your career until the end. Even if you have to cut back for a few years, contribute at least enough to get the full company match, and boost your contributions later to get back on track.
Take stock. Calculate the future value of your current savings and see how much more you’ll need to save to attain your retirement goal.
Plan a plan. Create your retirement budget, with a column for essential costs (housing and food) and another column for discretionary expenses. Factor inflation at 2.4% over the next 20 years, and consider a separate calculation for health care costs which likely will increase at a much higher rate, perhaps as much as 5%. Match your expenses to guaranteed income, like pensions and Social Security, plus the annual amount you plan to withdraw from savings. If you see a gap, you’ll need to spend less or work a bit longer. That may not be a bad thing, since staying in the workforce for a few extra years gives you more time to contribute to your retirement accounts—and you have fewer years to finance when you do retire.
Up your contributions. If you’re 50 or older, you can make catch-up contributions to your IRA and 401(k). This year, you can add $6,000 to your 401(k) above the $18,000 annual contribution limit. That’s a total of $24,000 for the year. You can also save an extra $1,000 in a traditional or Roth IRA beyond the $5,500 annual contribution limit (a total of $6,500 for the year). If you invest $24,000 in a 401(k) every year starting at age 50, you’ll boost your retirement savings by more than $580,000 by the time you’re 65, assuming a return of 6% per year. If you invest $6,500 in your IRA during those years, you could accumulate over $157,000 in your IRA in 15 years.
Especially for the self-employed. In a solo 401(k) plan, you can save as much as $54,000 or $60,000 if you are 50 or older. If you have a SEP IRA, for tax year 2017, you can contribute up to 20% of your net self-employment income–that’s business income minus half of your self-employment tax. The solo 401(k) plan lets you save more, since you are contributing both as an employer and an employee.
Reference: Kiplinger (March 2017) “5 Time-Tested Tactics to Save for Retirement”