Feeling anxious about your retirement savings? Worrying about retirement is normal, especially when it comes to wondering if your funds will last. By some estimates, half of Americans don’t have enough saved for retirement. If you’ve done the math or talked with an adviser and feel that your nest egg isn’t sufficient, the best time to act is now. Here are some tips for growing your retirement savings.
- Maximize Retirement Fund Contributions
Retirement funds are special accounts that provide important tax benefits for your retirement savings and investments. If your workplace offers a retirement plan such as a 401(k), check to see if they provide any matching funds for your contributions, and if so, try to take full advantage of the match. Even if your employer doesn’t chip in, you may want to increase your contribution to your workplace plan or to a personal plan such as an IRA. As of 2023, the annual 401(k) contribution limit is $22,500, and the annual IRA contribution limit is $6,500 for those under age 50 and $7,500 for those age 50 or older.
- Invest Your Windfalls
Contributing more to your retirement fund on a regular basis isn’t always easy, which can make investing windfalls an important opportunity. Tax refunds, bonuses, gift money and inheritances are all examples that may be put to better use as part of your retirement fund. Rolling these windfalls into your nest egg before you have a chance to spend them is a good habit that can potentially make a big difference when it comes time to retire.
- Pay Off High-Interest Debt
Debt isn’t always a bad thing, but high-interest debt like credit card balances can be a drag on your ability to save for retirement. If you have expensive debt, especially with interest rates in the double digits, paying them down could provide a bigger benefit than saving or investing that money. It may also be possible to consolidate debt into your mortgage to save on interest charges. If you feel that you have more debt than you can hope to repay, you may want to consult with a debt attorney for advice.
- Leverage Your Home
Paying off your mortgage is a great feeling and a popular goal, but if you’re short on retirement funds, it may be a counterproductive financial strategy. Instead, you may wish to minimize your mortgage payments (such as by making minimum payments on a 30-year loan) or take out home equity as cash (such as through a home equity loan or reverse mortgage). This could help free up funds for you to invest or to cover your immediate needs. Because it may be more difficult to qualify for a new mortgage after you retire, you should reassess your mortgage strategy before you leave the workforce.
- Work Longer
While this is the least appealing option for many people, it can be the best late-term solution to building up your retirement funds. Working longer can mean acquiring more savings, delaying the depletion of what you’ve already saved and holding off on accepting Social Security (therefore receiving larger payments in the future). Stepping down to a part-time job is another option, although this may impact your Social Security. At a certain age, you may be required to take minimum retirement distributions. One less-obvious benefit of working longer is that some studies show it has a positive impact on health.
Saving for retirement is a challenge for many, but if you take smart action sooner rather than later, you can give yourself the best chance to enjoy your golden years in comfort and security. While these tips are a good starting point, be sure to do your research and consult with qualified professionals as necessary.
If you’d like to learn whether updating your mortgage strategy could help you reach your financial goals sooner, please get in touch today for a free mortgage consultation.
Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. and its employees do not provide credit, financial planning, investment, tax, accounting or legal advice. This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for such advice. Do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of this material without first consulting a qualified professional for advice.