Many of us dream of retiring at some point, but are you setting aside enough to make that a reality?
According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), you might not be on track.
The latest survey indicates that almost 25% of workers don’t even have $1,000 saved up toward retirement.
Almost half of everyone surveyed had socked away less than $25,000. That’s a fairly alarming number when you stop to think about it — especially when you consider that the EBRI reports that most people think they will need $500,000 to quit work for good.
Are You on Your Own for Retirement?
The EBRI survey found that most of the workers who aren’t on track to reach their retirement goals don’t have access to a workplace retirement savings plan.
When planning for retirement, it’s nice to have a little help. Companies that offer retirement plans make it easier for workers to automate their retirement efforts. You can set money aside without thinking about the task, or even seeing it. It’s one way to pay yourself first.
Even better is if your employer offers a match. That’s free money you can get for retirement. And, of course, that sum grows over time when invested too, snowballing to a pretty healthy nest egg come retirement time.
How to Save on Your Own
If the EBRI survey is any indication, it’s clear that many people aren’t coming up with their own plan for saving for retirement. This is where things get sticky if you hope to build up your savings for the future.
If you are on your own for retirement, you need to take a more active role to build wealth for the future. Don’t get stuck. Come up with your own retirement plan.
One of the easiest ways to get started is to open an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).
Nearly anyone with earned income can open an IRA and make contributions. There are a number of discount brokers that can help you open an IRA and start investing. You can usually even set it up so that you automatically transfer money from your bank account to the investing account each month.
Set it up once, and then start making regular contributions.
If you are self-employed, there are options like the SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, plus the Solo 401(k). These accounts allow you to contribute more to your retirement account than you could with a “regular” IRA.
Another option, if you qualify with a high-deductible health care plan, is to open a Health Savings Account. You can plan to let the money grow instead of using the money as you go along. Doing so will allow you to save up money for health care costs during retirement in a tax free way.
David’s Note: HSAs are awesome for many, but don’t blindly jump in with both feet until you’ve done your research. Under current Federal tax law, money that goes into the HSA is tax deductible up to a yearly limit. The earnings inside the account will be tax free and withdrawals will also be tax free if they are used for qualified medical expenses. That’s why you hear about HSA funds being triple tax free sometimes. Sounds great right? However, check the your state tax laws too. California, for one, does not give a tax break on HSA contributions, nor are interest earned within the account tax free. It’s a big different, especially with the high tax rates that Californians get to “enjoy”.
You can even use a taxable investment account as part of your strategy if you want to retire before you’re eligible to take penalty-free withdrawals from your accounts. Just make doubly sure you are taking advantage of the various other investment vehicles that won’t penalize you for withdrawing funds before you reach retirement age first.
If you don’t start setting money aside for retirement, you will be unlikely to reach your goals for the future. The best time to start saving for retirement is yesterday, but the second best time to start is now. Make a plan and get started ASAP to reduce the chances of a not-so-golden retirement.