It’s never too late to start planning for your retirement, but hopefully by the time you’ve reach your 40s and 50s you already have some money invested for the future. These decades are a great time to take a look at your savings and make sure you’re on the right track.
Make a Plan
How do you imagine your retirement years? When do you want to retire? Will your house be paid off by that time? Do you want to continue to work part time after retirement? Ask yourself these questions as you start to make a plan for the future. If you want a life of travel and fine dining, make sure your retirement projections align with a more expensive lifestyle. There are several online retirement calculators that can help you through this process. Take stock of your current savings and adjust accordingly.
Increase Your Savings
If you’re already on track for your dream retirement, that’s great! If you still have a long way to go, you’ll need to start saving more. Start contributing a greater percentage of your income to your 401k or IRA.
One way to do this is to add an extra percentage point of your paycheck to retirement every time you get a raise. That way, if you get a 3% raise, you can contribute more to your retirement without feeling like you’re sacrificing extra cash. Going from a 10% contribution to an 11% contribution may not seem like much, but over several years and with compound interest, it will add up quickly.
Make Your Retirement a Priority
It’s easy to put your retirement on the back burner when you’re worried about your children’s college fund. However, remember that when the time comes for your children to apply for college, they’ll have many payment options: scholarships, grants, and even student loans. When you decide you want to retire, you’ll have fewer options to choose from if you don’t stick to a plan. It sounds selfish, but it makes more sense to save for yourself before you start saving for others.
What if You Have Zero Savings in Your 50s?
You’re going to have to save more in a shorter amount of time, so start saving right away. Take a look at your budget, decide which unnecessary items can be cut, and start putting away 15–20% of your paycheck into a 401k or IRA. See if you can take advantage of an employer 401k match. You might also want to consider retiring later in life—at age 70 instead of 65, for example. This will give you more time to save up and live comfortably in your retirement. And the longer you wait, the more you’ll be able to withdraw from social security.
Not everyone has to be on track to retire at 65—many people work past that ageor switch to a part time job so they can enjoy more leisure time while still earning money. There will always be a fallback plan, but it’s still a good idea to start saving as soon as possible.