It’s a responsibility that practically all of us have, not only to ourselves, but also to our families. A strong retirement plan now will literally pay dividends later. It’s not easy to fit it into your monthly budget at times, but it’s become a necessity. With continuing advancements in medicine and healthcare, the average life expectancy is consistently rising, and along with dwindling Social Security funds, it’s up to us to create a retirement saving strategy that fits our goals and creates enough income for us to live upon.
So how do we stop making excuses about our financial situation and get started?
Figure Out How Much You Will You Need:
First of all, figure out how much money you expect to need after your retirement. You can’t prepare adequately if you don’t know exactly what you’re planning for. It’s usually estimated that you will need roughly 70 percent of your pre-retirement income. However in reality, people ideally want to maintain closer to 90 percent of their income. So, the more retirement saving you can do now, the better.
Also, it’s important not to make too many assumptions on how long you will keep working. Many people will make concessions on the amount they save, assuming they will simply work beyond the typical retirement age. However, several factors can come into play here, and you could find yourself working for a significantly shorter amount of time than you had hoped. We can’t plan for everything, and personal health or issues stemming from a fluctuating job market could override our current plans— further underscoring the importance of saving now.
What Retirement Savings Plans Are Available to You?
Next, it’s a good idea to find out the resources that are currently in place for you. If your employer has a retirement saving plan intact, don’t waste any time. Sign up immediately, and start contributing to it. If they don’t currently offer one, ask them to look into starting a retirement saving plan such as a 401(k). Some companies will offer their employees a contribution matching incentive. This means, in some cases, your employer will match up to half of everything you put into your retirement savings account.
Most 401(k) plans offer multiple options to assist you in reaching your goal in a given timespan. If you are nearing retirement age, you may want to diversify into a safer retirement savings plan that will ensure consistent, steady growth. However, the longer you estimate you will continue working, you can potentially benefit from a riskier plan. In this type of plan, the ups and downs of the market will affect your growth, but over time, can result in substantially higher gains.
If a 401(k) plan isn’t something you can get through your employer, another common form of retirement plan is an Individual Retirement Account, or IRA. In this case, since your employer isn’t involved, you’ll set up your own plan with help from your bank or financial planner. Because this is an independent plan, there are even more investment diversification options than with 401(k). There are also several different types of IRA’s, so discuss your options with your financial adviser, and find the best fit for you.
Both 401(k) and IRA plans have limits on the amount you can contribute each year. So, if you find yourself wanting to put more into your retirement saving plan than either one allows, you can open both. This strategy serves to not only save more money now, but also further diversify your funds, which helps protect you from the negative effects of market fluctuations or crashes.
Obviously, there’s no one plan that’s right for everyone. But don’t let that stop you. No matter what you decide, start your retirement saving strategy as soon as possible and secure your future today!
Featured image courtesy of Flickr