🔴 What to Do If You Have Not Saved For Retirement and You Are Now 50 Years Old
How to Start Saving for Retirement Now
Whether you're 20 or 50, financial planning for retirement is not only smart — it's critical. This simple financial planning guide can help you start building your nest egg.
By Regina Boyle Wheeler
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
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Making sure your retirement years are truly financially secure takes financial planning — and that means starting to save as soon as possible. Getting started in your twenties or thirties will help you produce the biggest bang for your retirement buck. But even if you’re a late bloomer in terms of retirement savings, it’s never too late to start.
Longevity has increased dramatically in the last century, thanks in part to improvements in health care and nutrition. In 1900, life expectancy in the United States was 49 years; today, life expectancy is almost 78 years, with many people living active lives well into their eighties, nineties, and beyond. In fact, centenarians (people over age 100) are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population.
So it’s reasonable to expect that you’ll be spending two decades or more in retirement, and that amount of time will require a serious amount of money to survive. It’s estimated you’ll needat least70 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your standard of living when you stop working. How can you make sure you don’t outlive your money? Plan wisely.
Start Saving Early
If you are in your twenties or thirties, retirement isn’t likely on your mind. But you should start financial planning now — every dollar saved early is worth more in the long run. Your money will earn interest, and that interest will earn interest, making your savings grow over the years.
If you’re in your forties or fifties and have put aside little or no money, you’ll have to save more aggressively. This can be tough because of other financial pressures, like putting children through college. The bottom line? No matter your age, start saving today.
The first step is to look at what you’re earning and what you’re spending. Perhaps you could take your lunch to work, skip the expensive coffees, or downsize your vacation plans. Take some time to figure out how much money you can put into a retirement fund. And then take the second step: Deciding where to put those funds.
Retirement Plan Option No. 1: Consider a 401(K) Plan
Workplace retirement plans are some of the easiest ways to save. A 401(k) or similar plan, like the 403(b) or 457, usually just requires you to sign up. You decide how much to contribute from each paycheck and how the money is invested. Do so wisely — the size of your retirement “nut” is based on how well your investments perform.
Many companies also contribute to their employees’ 401(k) accounts, called an employee match — for instance, your employer may throw in 50 cents for every dollar you invest, up to a certain amount. Find out your employer’s match percentage or dollar amount and how much you need to contribute to take maximum advantage of this match.
You will not pay taxes on the money you put into a 401(k) plan until you take it out. If you do so before the age of 59-1/2, you will likely pay a stiff penalty plus the tax, so try to let the money stay put.
Retirement Plan Option No. 2: Traditional Pension Plans
Your father or grandfather may have retired with a gold watch and a pension. These types of plans are becoming less common, but some large corporations still offer them. Under defined-benefit pension plans, the employee contributes money and the employer invests it. Upon retirement, the employer pays a benefit to the retiree based on the person’s pay and years of service.
Small businesses may have other retirement plans available, such as Keogh, Simplified Employee Pensions (SEP), or Savings Incentive Match Plans for Employees of Small Employers (SIMPLE).
Retirement Plan Option No. 3: Start Saving on Your Own With an IRA
Even if you have an employer retirement plan, you can still open an individual retirement account (IRA) and build a bigger nest egg. IRAs are accounts set up with banks or mutual fund companies. There are two types of IRAs, both with different tax advantages:
- Traditional IRAs.You deposit money into the account and don’t pay taxes until you withdraw it. Your contributions may be tax-deductable. You must begin taking money out annually beginning at age 70-1/2.
- Roth IRAs.These are funded with after-tax income, but you won’t pay taxes at withdrawal time. However, your contributions are not tax-deductable and there are limits based on your income. You do not have to start taking out annual withdrawals at any specific age.
Individuals under 50 years old can contribute up to ,000 dollars annually to either type of IRA. If you expect to be in a higher tax bracket in the future, a Roth IRA might be a good option. Talk to a financial advisor to see which plan is best for you.
Retirement Plan Options for People Over 50
If you are over age 50, here are some ways to add to your retirement nest egg:
- Put more money into your IRA.The government allows people over age 50 to contribute an extra ,000 annually to their IRAs.
- Play 401(k) catch-up.If your company plan allows it, you can contribute an extra ,500 in pre-tax dollars to your 401(k) plan in addition to the regular limit of ,500.
- Decide when to take Social Security benefits.You can begin at age 62, but your monthly check will be one-third lower than if you wait until full retirement age, usually sometime between the ages of 65 and 67. If you can wait until age 70, your check will be 75 percent more than if you began at age 62. Deciding when to start taking Social Security benefits depends on many factors, including your gender, marital status, and overall health. For more guidance, the Social Security Administration has a to help you figure it out.
Planning for retirement today allows you to face the future with optimism rather than fear. So start saving — and look forward to the life you want to live.
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