My grandmother was 91 years old when she died. I doubt she planned to live that long. She didn’t have an IRA or 401(k). She lived on Social Security and her pension, and constantly worried about money. With healthy lifestyles and quality drugs allowing us to survive into our 90’s, we need to plan to live in retirement for around 30 years. How much money you need to live comfortably in retirement is unique to you, but a good rule of thumb is $1 million. Here are eight ways you may not have thought of to put money aside for your golden years:
1. Don't focus all of your money on one financial goal.
If you’ve just graduated from college and are starting your first job, you may be tempted to put off contributing to your company’s matching 401(k) plan or other investment options until your student loans are paid off. Resist that temptation and contribute the minimum your company’s plan allows. You have to pay off the past, but you also need to plan for the future. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket.
2. Take advantage of "catch up contributions."
The amount of money you’re allowed to contribute to pre-taxed retirement plans is capped, but did you know that if you are at least 50 years old, you are eligible for catch up contributions to both your 401(k) plan and your IRA? Take full advantage of this option to set yourself up for financial success later in life.
3. Work past the traditional retirement age.
Just because you can collect full Social Security benefits when you turn 62 years old, doesn’t mean you should if you are healthy and enjoying your work. Every year you delay receiving Social Security payments before you turn 70 years old, you increase the amount you receive in the future.
4. Work a side-gig.
If you feel like you’re way behind in saving for retirement, take a part-time job working nights and weekends in addition to your full-time job. If you feel pressured, but not panicked, freelance work or seasonal retail jobs may be enough to meet your earnings goals.
5. Use a micro-investment app.
Acorns, Stash, Robinhood, and WiseBanyan allow you to round up the amount of your purchases to the nearest dollar and divert that spare change into an investment account. This can’t be the main way you save for retirement, but if you keep spare change in a piggy bank, it’s not gathering interest. At least this way, your little bit of money is at work making you a little bit more money.
6. Cut down on extracurriculars.
Your kids’ piano, dance, and karate lessons add up; not to mention the gas to get them there. Limiting each child to one extracurricular per season doesn’t limit their experiences or social skills. If your child isn’t trying for a sport scholarship, let them participate in recreational leagues instead of traveling sport teams. Instead of buying uniforms, equipment, hotels, food, and gas, invest that amount in a Roth IRA to help them pay for college.
7. Downsize sooner.
Are you an empty nester rattling around in a big house? Do you really need all that space? If not, downsize before it becomes a buyer’s market. Use your profit to purchase (or rent) right-sized housing and invest the rest in your IRA.
8. Rethink raises and bonuses.
When you get a raise, spend half of it on yourself as a reward, but also allocate half of it to your 401(k) or IRA. The same goes for your tax refund.
Small efforts add up to large results over time. Be consistent and creative in saving for your retirement, and you could be comfortable living to 120!