Do not give up on your retirement goals if you find you have entered middle age with little to no retirement savings. Sure, it may be harder to reach your retirement goals than if you had started in your 20s or 30s, but here are some strategies to consider:
Reanalyze your retirement goals
First, thoroughly analyze your situation. Calculate how much you need for retirement, what income sources will be available, how much you have saved, and how much you need to save annually to reach your goals. If you cannot save that amount, it may be time to change your goals. Consider postponing retirement for a few years so you have more time to accumulate savings as well as delay withdrawals from those savings. Think about working after retirement on at least a part-time basis. Even a modest amount of income after retirement can substantially reduce the amount you need to save. Look at lowering your expectations, possibly traveling less, or moving to a less expensive city or smaller home.
Contribute the maximum to your 401(k) plan.
Your contributions, up to a maximum of $22,500 in 2023, are deducted from your current year gross income. If you are age 50 or older, your plan may allow an additional $7,500 catch-up contribution, bringing your maximum contribution to $30,000. Find out if your employer offers a Roth 401(k) option. Even though you will not get a current-year tax deduction for your contributions, qualified withdrawals can be taken free of income taxes. If your employer matches contributions, you are essentially losing money when you don’t contribute enough to receive the maximum match. Matching contributions can help significantly with your retirement savings. For example, assume your employer matches fifty cents on every dollar you contribute, up to a maximum of 6% of your pay. If you earn $75,000 and contribute 6% of your pay, you would contribute $4,500 and your employer would put in an additional $2,250.
Look into individual retirement accounts (IRAs).
In 2023, you can contribute a maximum of $6,500 to an IRA, plus an additional $1,000 catch-up contribution if you are age 50 or older. Even if you participate in a companysponsored retirement plan, you can make contributions to an IRA, provided your adjusted gross income does not exceed certain limits.
Reduce your preretirement expenses.
Typically, you will want a retirement lifestyle similar to your lifestyle before retirement. Become a big saver now and you enjoy two advantages. First, you save significant sums for your retirement. Second, you are living on much less than you are earning, so you will need less for retirement. For instance, if you live on 100% of your income, you will have nothing left to save toward retirement. At retirement, you will probably need close to 100% of your income to continue your current lifestyle. With savings of 10% of your income, you are living on 90% of your income. At retirement, you will probably be able to maintain your standard of living with 90% of your current income.
Move to a smaller home.
As part of your efforts to reduce your preretirement lifestyle, consider selling your home and moving to a smaller one, especially if you have significant equity in your home. If you have lived in your home for at least two of the previous five years, you can exclude $250,000 of gain if you are a single taxpayer and $500,000 of gain if you are married filing jointly. At a minimum, this strategy will reduce your living expenses so you can save more. If you have significant equity in your home, you may be able to use some of the proceeds for savings.
Substantially increase your savings as you approach retirement.
Typically, your last years of employment are your peak earning years. Instead of increasing your lifestyle as your pay increases, save all pay raises. Anytime you pay off a major bill, such as an auto loan or your child’s college tuition, take the money that was going toward that bill and put it in your retirement savings.
Restructure your debt.
Check whether refinancing will reduce your monthly mortgage payment. Find less costly options for consumer debts, including credit cards with high interest rates. Systematically pay down your debts. And most important — do not incur any new debt. If you cannot pay cash for something, do not buy it.
Stay committed to your goals. At this age, it is imperative to maintain your commitment to saving. Please call if you would like help reviewing your retirement savings program.
Any opinions are those of Munn Gray & Associates, Inc. and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Every investor’s situation is unique, and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.
401(k) plans are long-term retirement savings vehicles. Withdrawal of pre-tax contributions and/or earnings will be subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty. Matching contributions from your employer may be subject to a vesting schedule. Please consult with your financial advisor for more information.
Roth 401(k) plans are long-term retirement savings vehicles. Contributions to a Roth 401(k) are never tax deductible, but if certain conditions are met, distributions will be completely income tax free. Unlike Roth IRAs, Roth 401(k) participants are subject to required minimum distributions at age 72 (70 ½ if you reach 70 ½ before January 1, 2020).
Contributions to a traditional IRA may be tax-deductible depending on the taxpayer’s income, tax-filing status, and other factors. Withdrawal of pre-tax contributions and/or earnings will be subject to ordinary income tax and, if taken prior to age 59 1/2, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty. IRA tax deductibility and contribution eligibility may be restricted if your income exceeds certain limits, please consult with a financial professional for more information.