by Pam Reiss
When should you start planning for retirement?
Assuming you want to stop working one day—and still be able to provide for your family and be comfortable financially—the answer to that question may be yesterday. But the good news is that it’s never too late to start planning for the future.
If you haven’t started preparing for your retirement, rest assured you’re not alone. Believe it or not, more than half of Americans haven’t calculated how much money they’ll need to live comfortably during their elder years. That’s according to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), which also asserts that 30 percent of workers in the private sector don’t participate in a retirement contribution plan, like a 401(k).
According to the Social Security Administration, the average monthly benefit for retired workers was $1,294 in December 2013. Does that sound like enough money to live on? If not, you’re going to need an additional source of revenue to live comfortably during your retirement, which is why you may want to start planning now. With that in mind, let’s look at three steps you can take to invest in your future:
First things first: Make a plan. As with any other goal in life, to be successful in your retirement, you should plan a course of investment. The DOL recommends that you first calculate your net worth, or your assets minus your debts.
Next, you’re going to want to determine your retirement goal. How much money do you anticipate needing to live comfortably each month? Try to figure out a ballpark age around when you might retire. You might be able to work a few years past the age of 65. Heck, you might even want to.
Then, think about how you’re going to invest your money. Do you feel more comfortable buying into a 401(k) plan, or would you rather open a Roth IRA and invest your after-tax money on your own? There are no wrong or right answers; choose what you think will work best for you.
Consider taking advantage of any available retirement plans. Many employers’ generously invest in their employees’ futures. If your company offers such a plan, it’s definitely something you would want to consider.
For example, let’s say your employer matches half of your 401(k) contribution, up to 6 percent. So when you put 6 percent of your salary in your retirement account, your employer tacks on an extra 3 percent. This money is essentially a 3-percent raise to your base salary.
Try not to think about this money. If you touch this money before your retirement, you may have to pay a substantial penalty.
It might be easier said than done, but when you’ve got an account that’s diversified enough, you should set it and forget it. Thanks to compounding interest, it is possible you may see your $100 per month, for example, grow into quite the sum. If you contribute $100 a month into your 401(k) and it earns 8 percent, that money could grow into more than $150,000 over 30 years.
By not thinking about the money—and thinking about it more as a savings account you can’t access for quite some time—you won’t stress over it. And when you do decide to take a look at how your nest egg is coming along, there’s a good chance you’ll be surprised by the results.
For more information about investing for your retirement, please feel free to contact us.