Even if you began saving late or have yet to begin, it’s important for you to know you are not alone, and there are steps you can take to kick-start your retirement plan. Merrill Lynch has provided the following tips to help boost your savings — no matter what stage of your life — and pursue the retirement you envision.
1. Focus on starting today — Especially if you’re just beginning to put money away for retirement, start saving and investing as much as you can now, and let compound interest have an opportunity to work in your favor.
2. Contribute to your 403(b) — If your employer offers a traditional 403(b) or 401(k) plan, it allows you to contribute pre-tax money, which can be a significant advantage; you can invest more of your income without feeling it as much in your monthly budget.
3. Meet your employer’s match — If your employer offers to match your 403(b) or 401(k) plan, make sure you contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match.
4. Open an IRA — Consider an individual retirement account to help build your nest egg.
5. Automate your savings — Make your savings automatic each month and you’ll have the opportunity to potentially grow your nest egg without having to think about it.
6. Rein in spending — Examine your budget. You might negotiate a lower rate on your car insurance or save by bringing your lunch to work instead of buying it.
7. Set a goal — Knowing how much you’ll need not only makes the process of investing easier, but also makes it more rewarding. Set benchmarks along the way, and gain satisfaction as you pursue your retirement goal.
8. Stash extra funds — Extra money? Don’t just spend it. Every time you receive a raise, increase your contribution percentage. Dedicate at least half of the new money to your retirement savings.
9. Take advantage of catch-up contributions — One of the reasons it’s important to start early if you can is that yearly contributions to IRAs, 403(b) and 401(k) plans are limited. The good news? Once you reach age 50, these limits rise, allowing you to try to catch up on your retirement savings. Currently, the 403(b) / 401(k) contribution limit is $17,500 for 2014. If you are age 50 or older, the limit increases by $5,500.
10. Consider delaying Social Security as you get closer to retirement — For every year you can delay receiving a Social Security payment before you reach age 70, you can increase the amount you receive in the future. The delayed retirement credits range from 3% to 8% annually, depending on the year you were born. Pushing your retirement back even one year could significantly boost your Social Security income during retirement.