The Most Important Thing Is Simply To Begin
Unless you are independently wealthy, setting aside money today to see that you have enough for the years down the road by starting a retirement fund is not an optionits mandatory.
Unfortunately, inertia can be a powerful force, and going from not saving to saving can be daunting to most people. So much investment and financial advice are designed for people who have already begun saving and investing for the future. Below are some strategies for those looking to start the process.
Option : Hsathe Forgotten Investment Option
HSA stands for Health Savings Account. Its a tax-advantaged account available only to people who enroll in a high-deductible health plan . If you have an HSA, you can put money in it and then use the money to pay for approved medical expenses. Putting money in an HSA lowers your taxable income, so if you contribute $3,000 in a year into an HSA, your taxable income gets reduced by $3,000.
You can put the money in a Cash Account, which grows interest like a savings account or you can put the money into an Investment Account, which functions a lot like an IRA.
Any money you dont use for medical expenses stays in your HSA indefinitely and you can add to it year after year up to the contribution limit. In 2022, the limit is $3,650 for singles and $7,300 for families.3
Now, when you turn age 65, that HSA will act like a traditional IRA. You can take money out for anything youd like, but youll pay taxes on it when you do, just like a traditional IRA. However, you can still pay medical expenses from your HSA tax free!
Heres another benefit of an HSA: theres no minimum distribution. With a traditional IRA, youll have to start taking out a minimum amount each year, and that amount is determined by the IRS. However, you can keep money in an HSA as long as youd like.
Starting A Retirement Fund
If you earn money, you pay Social Security taxes, but the funds used to pay Social Security benefits are expected to become depleted. According to the Social Security Administration , the 2021 annual report containing financial projections show that the Social Security fund will be able to pay the full scheduled benefits until 2033. After that point, the trust fund will be depleted and only 76% of the scheduled benefits will be able to be paid with continuing tax income.
Thus, it is unclear how well its benefits will cover the actual cost of living. Simply consider the debate today over chained CPI, a newer way of measuring the pace of rising prices called inflation, and what that could mean to the value of future benefits.
It is also important to note that the government offers incentives to save. Putting aside money into an appropriate qualified retirement plan, such as an individual retirement account or a 401, lowers a tax bill in the year that the money was saved and can accumulate tax-free for decades.
Similarly, many companies will also contribute funds if an employee contributes to a retirement account. An employers contribution amounts to free money, and most financial advisors would encourage their clients to maximize this opportunity.
Consider Starting Your Own Business
Once you reach your 50s you likely have acquired a lot of knowledge in whatever industry or industries youve worked in. Starting your nest egg late might not be that bad if youre able to start a successful business. This is often the best way to maximize your earnings, if successful. If youre self-employed you can also fund a retirement plan and get access to matching funds from your business or an additional amount that you can contribute each year.
Pay Attention To Investment Fees
While you’re likely to focus on returns and taxes, your gains can be drastically eroded by fees. Investment fees include:
- Transaction fees
Depending on the types of accounts you have and the investments you select, these fees can really add up. The first step is to figure out what youre spending on fees. Your brokerage statement should indicate how much youre paying to execute a stock trade, for example, and your funds prospectus or website will show expense ratio information.
If you’re paying too much, you can shop for investments such as a comparable lower-fee mutual fund or switch to a broker that offers reduced transaction costs. Many brokers, for example, offer commission-free ETF and mutual fund trading for select groups of funds.
To illustrate the difference that a small change in expense ratio can make over the course of an investment, consider the following table:
As the table shows, if you invest $10,000 in a fund with a 2.5% expense ratio, your investment would be worth $42,479 after 20 years, assuming a 10% annualized return. At the other end of the spectrum, your investment would be worth $61,416 if the fund had a lower, 0.5% expense ratioan increase of almost $19,000 over the 2.5% funds return.
Don’t Miss: Can I Retire At 60 With 3 Million Dollars
What Sort Of Retirement Lifestyle Do I Want
What will your cost of living be in retirement? Some costs may go up while others may go down. If you have children, they will probably be financially independent.
includes figures for more of a no frills lifestyle, or one with a few more choices, based on what retirees are spending these days. The first is pretty basic the second is more comfortable with some luxuries and treats. For example, a lifestyle with more choices for a couple living in the major cities might be $1423 a week, while it might be more like $1137 if they are living in the regions.
You also need to think about what your goals might be in retirement travelling to new places? Joining clubs, going out to dinner and shows? Much of this depends on whats on your bucket list.
An Ira Is A Good First Choice
An IRA is an Individual Retirement Account that you open in your own name. Like a 401, savings grow tax-deferred, which means you don’t pay income taxes on the earnings as long as the money is in the account. Currently, you can contribute up to $6,000 a year to an IRA . That would be a good start to your savings.
You do have a couple of IRA choices, so before you open one, you’ll need to consider which type of IRA is best for you.
- Traditional IRAWith this type of account you generally get an upfront tax deduction for your contribution. Potential earnings grow tax deferred, but you’re subject to ordinary income taxes when you make a withdrawal. If you withdraw money before age 59½, you may also be hit with a 10% penaltyall the more reason to give your money the opportunity to grow.
- Roth IRAWith a Roth, there’s no up-front tax deduction, but you can withdraw potential earnings tax free at age 59½ if you’ve held the Roth for five years. You’re subject to a 10% penalty if you withdraw earnings before 59½, but there’s never a penalty for withdrawing the money you contributed.
To contribute to a Roth IRA, you have to meet certain income limitations. In 2022, if you’re married filing jointly, you can make a full contribution as long as your Modified Adjusted Gross Income is less than $204,000 .
Don’t Miss: 13 Retirement Blunders To Avoid
Johnson & Johnson And Alphabet According To The Seeking Alpha Authors Rating And Wall Street Analysts Rating
While Johnson & Johnson receives a hold rating according to the Seeking Alpha Quant Rating, Alphabet gets a strong buy. According to the Seeking Alpha Authors Rating, Johnson & Johnson is currently a hold and Alphabet is a buy. Taking into account the Wall Street Analysts Rating, Johnson & Johnson receives a buy and Alphabet a strong buy.
Key Plan Benefits To Consider
Virtually all retirement plans offer a tax advantage, whether its available upfront during the savings phase or when youre taking withdrawals. For example, traditional 401 contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, reducing your taxable income. Roth 401 plans, in contrast, are funded with after-tax dollars but withdrawals are tax-free.
Some retirement savings plans also include matching contributions from your employer, such as 401 or 403 plans, while others dont. When trying to decide whether to invest in a 401 at work or an individual retirement account , go with the 401 if you get a company match or do both if you can afford it.
If you were automatically enrolled in your companys 401 plan, check to make sure youre taking full advantage of the company match if one is available.
And consider increasing your annual contribution, since many plans start you off at a paltry deferral level that is not enough to ensure retirement security. Roughly half of 401 plans that offer automatic enrollment, according to Vanguard, use a default savings deferral rate of just 3 percent. Yet T. Rowe Price says you should aim to save at least 15 percent of your income each year.
Also Check: Can You Take Money Out Of A Retirement Account
How Should I Save And Invest If I’m In The Middle Of My Career
You’ve taken a great, first step by simply asking. That shows an awareness of the importance of getting started, no matter where you are in your working years. Generally speaking, you should immediately take part in a retirement plan at work if one is available. If none is, look into opening an IRA at a local bank or brokerage. Earmark a portion of every paycheck for your saving and investing. If you need specific help, check with the financial institution where you open your IRA about support they may offer.
How Much To Save For Retirement
Naturally, the next question becomes: how much should a person save for retirement? Simply put, it’s an extremely loaded question with very few definite answers. Similar to the answer to the question of whether to retire or not, it will depend on each person, and factors such as how much income will be needed, entitlement for Social Security retirement benefits, health and life expectancy, personal preferences regarding inheritances, and many other things.
Below are some general guidelines.
You May Like: Retirement Gifts For School Counselors
Consider Where To Invest Your Money
The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but its not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:
Robo-advisors are fancy algorithms thatll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. Youd input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.
Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.
Think of bonds as IOUs to whomever you buy them from.
Essentially, youre lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.
Here are the different types of bond categories:
Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar thats managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains
One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds dont try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.
Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.
Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.
Buy Rental Property To Invest For Retirement
Like dividends, real estate is often thought of as a way to provide consistent income regardless of market performance. While you can also invest for retirement with real estate, keep in mind that real estate investing is not for everyone.
Though rentals can provide regular cash flow, you also face expenses associated with maintaining your investment properties. That means youll need to earn enough from rent to cover your mortgage and damages and repairs. You can minimize some of the more onerous aspects of real estate investing by hiring a management company, but that also decreases the overall returns youll earn.
If youd like the benefits of investing in real estate with less of the hassle, consider buying share of a real estate investment trust . REITs are groups of income-generating real estate properties that historically have paid higher dividends than stocks and even bonds.
Also Check: Retirement Homes In Cary Nc
Invest For Retirement In Dividend
Some investors prefer to get steady, consistent income from dividend-paying stocks. While historically the stock market has provided strong average returns, it hasnt always followed a straight, predictable line upwards. The S& P 500 has seen average annual returns of about 10% for instance, punctuated by some major declines.
Some stock investors feel more comfortable locking in their profits as soon as they can. Dividend investing aims to build a portfolio to stocks that offer consistent, high dividend payments.
Companies that pay dividends are providing you with a steady share of their profits, in the form of monthly, quarterly, or annual payments. These dividend payouts can be cash or additional stock. Dividends arent guaranteed, but they tend to be sustained over long periods, because missing dividend payments can be interpreted as a sign that a company is in bad financial health.
You should probably avoid devoting your entire retirement portfolio balance to dividend stocks. Because the companies that pay dividends tend to be more established, they may not offer the same exponential growth in share prices as newer, smaller companies. It is, after all, easier to double your share value when its only $20 instead of $2,000.
See What A Difference A Few Dollars Can Make
If you think you can’t afford to contribute to your employer plan, consider this: Increasing your retirement plan contributions may help lower your overall taxable income.
For example, if you earn $50,000 a year and start to contribute $100 a week, your paycheck would be $75 less .
And saving any amount in a workplace plan, and getting it matched by your employer, means you’re getting at least some of your potential benefit.
Don’t Miss: Bfi Retirement Plan Pension Center
Define Your Retirement Plan: Ideal Age And Retirement Savings
Like any other investment, a retirement investment plan starts with having a clear objective. For some people, a rule of thumb is that their retirement nest egg should be three times their annual salary at the time of retirement. But that figure varies. It comes down to your desired retirement lifestyle.
A simple lifestyle can be maintained with savings of less than $100,000, whereas a more lavish lifestyle requires having more than $1 million in your accounts at retirement time. Generally, you can follow three steps when investing for retirement.
- The current retirement age with full benefits in the U.S. is 66 years and two months. First, calculating the time to retirement provides the foundation for a retirement plan.
- Second, determining the retirement needs provides a savings goal, which helps estimate how much money you need to save annually to reach the goal. Its important to consider taxes and remaining mortgages at this stage since these affect the final amount that youll save.
- The last question to ask is, How should I invest for retirement to reach my retirement goal? To this end, various investment types can be placed on the risk-return matrix.
You should seek investment advice or do thorough research when putting together your investment strategies. Its also advisable to stay on top of your mortgage and estate and consider any other liabilities and obligations that may consume future income .
Invest In A Traditional Or Roth Ira
Beyond an employer-sponsored plan, you can also contribute to an IRA .
- IRAs are available as traditional and Roth accounts. The annual contribution limit for 2020 is $6,000 in total in both accounts. Those who are age 50 or over can contribute an additional $1,000.
- Tradition IRA contributions are made on a pre-tax basis, subject to certain income limits for those covered by a retirement plan at work. In retirement, you pay tax on all withdrawals.
- Roth IRA contributions are made on an after-tax basis, again subject to certain income limits. And you withdraw your money tax-free in retirement.
- IRAs generally offer a wide range of investment options, including individual stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds , and mutual funds.
- IRAs are excellent retirement savings vehicles for contributions and a solid destination for retirement plan rollovers.
As with any other investment account, your asset allocation should be based on your time horizon until retirement and your risk tolerance. Also, consider the asset allocation in other accounts that you may have. An IRA generally offers more options than a 401 and other types of retirement accounts. This helps your retirement investing efforts.
Recommended Reading: Where Can I Transfer My Retirement Account
Nonqualified Deferred Compensation Plans
Unless youre a top executive in the C-suite, you can pretty much forget about being offered an NQDC plan. There are two main types: One looks like a 401 plan with salary deferrals and a company match, and the other is solely funded by the employer.
The catch is that most often the latter one is not really funded. The employer puts in writing a mere promise to pay and may make bookkeeping entries and set aside funds, but those funds are subject to claims by creditors.
Pros: The benefit is you can save money on a tax-deferred basis, but the employer cant take a tax deduction for its contribution until you start paying income tax on withdrawals.
Cons: They dont offer as much security, because the future promise to pay relies on the solvency of the company.
Theres some risk that you wont get your payments if the company has financial problems, says Littell.
What it means to you: For executives with access to an NQDC plan in addition to a 401 plan, Littells advice is to max out the 401 contributions first. Then if the company is financially secure, contribute to the NQDC plan if its set up like a 401 with a match.