How to get your finances ready for retirement
Everyone has a vision of their retirement in their heads. It could be the quintessential condo at the beach, moving closer to the grand kids or volunteering at your favorite nonprofit — but whatever it is, you won’t get it for free.
In this dynamic world, to live the retirement you want— for the full amount of years after you stop working — you need to plan ahead and work to save enough money to cover your costs. The first step in the planning process is deciding what you want to do in your retirement. Once you know that, you can calculate your anticipated retirement costs and work on a plan to save enough to carry you through your golden years.
Taking the following steps can make it easier for you to reach your savings goals by the time you’re ready to retire.
Don’t leave money on the table
It may seem like a no-brainer, but many people leave money on the table when it comes to their employer-sponsored retirement accounts. According to research by Vanguard1, only 13% of participants took advantage of the full match their employer offers. The study also found that millennials are the least likely to contribute the full amount to their 401(k). Be sure to check the percentage that your employer matches and contribute that amount. Work with your financial professional to ensure you see the full financial picture on how much you should be putting into an employer sponsored 401(k) plan, how much you should be saving and how much you need in protection like life insurance and disability income insurance.
Make tax-savvy investments
Taxes can eat away at your returns — and how much you will have to live on in retirement. While taxes aren’t avoidable, there are ways to potentially reduce the burden you face. Some strategies recommended in appropriate situations by tax advisors include paying attention to your mutual funds’ turnover rates, pairing the sales of winning stocks with losing ones to reduce your capital gains tax, and keeping interest- and dividend-generating investments in a tax-deferred account such as a 401(k) or IRA. Consider consulting with your tax advisor to see if these or other strategies are right for you.
Pay down debt
Debt is the enemy of all savers, but for people nearing retirement it can be particularly perilous. With income limited, covering living expenses and activities is going to be hard enough. Add on high-interest debt and you may find yourself downsizing your lifestyle to pay your monthly bills. To avoid this, work on paying down your debt by tackling the accounts with the highest interest rates first. Be sure to still save for retirement while doing so.
The bottom line
It’s possible to have the money you need to live the retirement you envision, but it requires strategic planning and careful saving over the course of your working life.