By Scott Hume
Are you confident about your retirement prospects, or does a review of your savings leave you feeling anxious? Even if you’ve saved diligently through the years, there’s always that lingering fear that you won’t have enough money to live a comfortable life in retirement. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey, only 17% of American workers are very confident they have enough money for a comfortable retirement, and 65% of those who have saved have less than $100,000 put away. (1)
Thankfully, even as the clock winds down on your working years, it’s not too late to bulk up your nest egg and get on track. With patience, discipline, and the right guidance, you’ll be on your way to a secure retirement. Here are 6 steps you can take today to catch up for retirement in a hurry.
1. Save More
The most obvious thing you can do is save more. Cut back on expenses, channel a healthy percentage of any raises and bonuses directly to savings, and automate savings increases of 1% of your paycheck every few months. It may not seem like you are making much of an impact, but every dollar helps.
Your increased savings can be invested in your company 401(k) or 403(b) plan or your personal IRA. If you are over 50, you (and your spouse, even if only you work) can invest an extra $1,000 per year into an IRA for a total of $7,000 for 2019. The catch-up contribution for those over 50 is even greater for 401(k) and 403(b) plans at $6,000, for a total contribution limit of $25,000. If you’ve managed to max out your IRA and workplace retirement plan and still aren’t saving enough, you can open a taxable brokerage account for your additional savings.
2. Have A Growth Mindset
Your goal retirement date doesn’t have to dictate your investment time horizon. You may be planning to retire in 10 years, but you don’t need to set a 10-year horizon for your investments because you’ll only need a small portion of your nest egg in the early years. The rest of your money may stay invested for another 20 to 40 years. Make sure you invest with the right perspective so you can work toward as much growth as possible.
One thing to remember, though, is not to try to chase unreasonable returns as a way to make up for a lack of retirement savings. With the proper asset allocation, you can diversify your portfolio among different asset classes which seek to balance risk with reward. Taking on excessive risk in an effort to play catch-up isn’t worth the possibility of losing half your money when the next market correction strikes.
3. Review Your Insurance Coverage
Insurance is one of those financial products that most people purchase and then promptly forget about. It would be worthwhile to review all of your insurance policies to ensure that you actually need the coverage you have. Your needs may have changed dramatically since you had a young family, and there is no point in paying for something you no longer need.
Also, you should make sure that you have long-term care insurance in place once you are over age 60. Nothing drains a nest egg faster than living in a nursing home and paying out of pocket. Someone turning 65 today has almost a 70% chance of needing some type of long-term care services, (2) so it is important to consider how long-term care will affect your overall retirement plan.
4. Eliminate Consumer Debt
The less debt you have when you enter retirement, the better. Reducing your consumer debt before retiring helps you lower your monthly expenses and enables your savings to grow and last longer.
Review all current debts you face and compare interest rates and balances. This can help you decide which to pay off first. Once you’ve eliminated credit card and auto debt, see how you can aggressively pay off your mortgage. Not having a mortgage could reduce your monthly expenses by up to a third and make a significant impact on how you spend your savings.
5. Downsize Your Home
As you near retirement, your housing needs will be different than they were when you were raising a family. Many people downsize their homes prior to retirement as a way to reduce or eliminate debt and reduce utility expenses. In addition to the financial benefits of downsizing, a smaller home and yard require less work and cleaning, and a one-story home could be much more practical as you age.
6. Push Back Your Retirement Date
There are several benefits to delaying retirement to work a few more years, or to work part-time during retirement. The biggest reason is that you have more time to earn an income and save. And every additional year that you work is one less year that you will be depending on savings and draining your nest egg.
Working longer will also allow you to delay claiming Social Security. While Social Security benefits can be claimed as early as age 62, the longer you wait to file, the greater the benefit you will receive. If you file at age 62, you will only receive 75% of your earned benefit, but waiting until age 70 allows you to receive 132% of your earned benefit. This can make a substantial difference in your retirement income for the rest of your life.
If you’re considering retiring before your Social Security kicks in, you may want to think again. In that case, you would have to draw down your retirement assets for 100% of your monthly expenses. Waiting until your Social Security benefits begin allows you to let more of your retirement savings remain invested for the future.
Need Help Catching Up?
There are a number of options for boosting your retirement savings, but investing, insurance, and Social Security rules can be complicated and confusing. This is why it’s important to consider turning to an experienced financial professional to guide you as you work to make the most of your money.
At Salish Wealth Management, we help you prepare for every aspect of retirement, including income and tax planning, healthcare decisions, estate planning, and overall risk management. Our goal is to secure, maintain, and protect your financial lifestyle throughout your lifetime.
No matter how old you are or how little you have saved, it’s never too late as long as you get started today. Reach out to me today at (360) 671-5900 or firstname.lastname@example.org for a free 30-minute portfolio review.
About Scott CFP®
Scott Hume is the founder of Salish Wealth Management and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with more than two decades of experience. Prior to forming his firm, he managed two local financial firms. Today, he works with affluent individuals, families, and local businesses to help them plan and execute their financial goals, providing comprehensive financial planning and cross-border investment management. In his free time, Scott likes to spend time with his wife, Darlene, and children, Claire, Curtis, and Corbin, on their hobby farm raising lambs, chickens, and pigs or visiting his grown daughter, Chelsey, in Eastern Washington. He is an active member of The Rotary Club of Bellingham, Bellingham Chamber of Commerce, and The Estate Planning Council. In addition, he is very involved in the local aviation community and is an active member with Cornwall Church, volunteering his time to financial counseling and serving on mission trips in South America. Learn more about Scott by connecting with him on LinkedIn.