At this point, you might feel like you’ll have to work forever, because you definitely don’t have enough (if any) retirement savings.
But don’t panic just yet. No matter how much — or how little — you make, it’s never too late to boost your savings. (Just don’t put it off any longer!)
Here are five simple steps you can take to ease your worries about retirement — no matter your budget:
1. Get All the Free Money You Can
If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you definitely want to take full advantage of its matching contribution.
A 401(k) is a retirement account that’s sponsored by your employer. What makes it especially attractive is that many employers will match your contributions — in whole or in part — up to a certain percentage of your earnings.
“Take advantage of your full company match,” says Jeff Dixson, a financial adviser in Vancouver, Washington, and host of a radio show called “The Retirement Coach.”
“If they match 3%, contribute 3%. If they match 6%, try to get to 6%. That’s free money. There’s nowhere else you’re going to get free money.” And once you’ve captured the free money? Make sure you’re increasing your contributions to retirement through your work-based plan (or an IRA if you don’t have one) until you’re maxxing out.
2. Invest in Real Estate (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire … Yet)
In addition to your 401(k), growing your money through investments is a great way to set yourself up for retirement. One of the most lucrative places to invest is in real estate.
OK, so you might not have a million dollars to spare, but we found a company that helps you become a real estate investor — with a minimum investment of just $500.
Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be invested in portfolios of real estate around the United States. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.
And you don’t have to be the landlord. Fundrise does all the heavy lifting.
As tenants pay their rent, you can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and the potential appreciation of the property.
It’s a way to get started in the world of investing as you think about retirement.
3. Launch Your Investing Portfolio with $5
Maybe you’re ready to invest in the stock market. There’s a great way to do that without needing thousands of dollars. In fact, you can get started with just $5 with an app called Stash.
Stash lets you choose from hundreds of stocks and funds to build your own investment portfolio, but it makes it simple by breaking them down into categories based on your personal goals.
It takes just two minutes to download the app and sign up, and then it costs $1 per month for balances under $5,000.
And if you sign up now, you’ll get a $5 signup bonus. Like any investing, the earlier you get started, the more you can stash away.
4. Get a Jump-start With Up to $500 in Free Stocks
What if someone just handed you $500 in free stocks?
Well, that could happen if you start investing with an app called Robinhood.
Yeah, you’ve probably heard of Robinhood. Both investing beginners and pros love it because it doesn’t charge commission fees, and you can buy and sell stocks for free — no limits. Plus, it’s super easy to use.
What’s best? When you download the app and fund your account, Robinhood drops a share of free stock into your account. It’s random, though, so that stock could be worth anywhere from $5 to $500 — a nice boost to help you build your investments.
5. Play Catch-Up After 50
It’s never too late to play a little catch-up.
If you’re age 50 or over at the end of this calendar year, you can make annual catch-up contributions to your 401(k) account, bypassing the legal maximums.
For 2020 the personal 401(k) contribution max is $19,500 annually. People in their 50s and 60s can contribute an extra $6,500 a year — if they’re able to.
The bottom line: It’s never too late to start thinking about retirement, and it’s never too early to start thinking about retirement — no matter what your budget looks like.
This story originally ran on The Penny Hoarder.