If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to be prepared for the unexpected, and to make sure your finances are in order so you can weather any storm life sends your way. While retirement may not be on your immediate horizon, I promise — it’ll be here before you know it.
Unfortunately, Americans are woefully undersaved for retirement overall. According to a recent GOBankingRates survey, 45% of respondents indicated they have no retirement savings at all. So the message for this New Year is simple: Don’t let another year go by where you let your retirement planning slip through the cracks. THIS needs to be the year to get real with your retirement planning, even if 2020 brought some financial setbacks your way. I’ve outlined four tips and strategies to consider to get your retirement plan on track, so you can enjoy every moment of your golden years.
While “live life to the fullest” isn’t inherently bad advice, spending on impulse buys spurred on by endless scrolling through social media’s slough of influencers and targeted ads is a real problem. (If you were inspired to pull the trigger on an air fryer or an Instapot in the last year, raise your hand.)
Younger generations (we’re looking at you, Gen Z) often believe there will be ample time to start saving for retirement “later,” but this thinking is only harmful in the long run. People who begin saving and investing in their 20s can end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars more over their lifetimes than if they started investing in their 40s. If you start investing when you turn 40, you’d have to save three or four times as much each month to accumulate the same amount as someone who started saving in their 20s. And with the average life expectancy in the US increasing, retirement is going to last longer than you think, so getting ahead of the curve is the name of the game. Even if you only put aside a small amount every paycheck, the power of dollar-cost averaging in a defined contribution plan (such as a 401(k)) and consistent savings, will pay off significantly in the decades to come.
Select The Right Accounts For Your Retirement Goals
Did you know that the average American spends more time planning a vacation than they do selecting investments for their 401(k) plans? One of the most critical factors to consider when creating an investment strategy for retirement is the type of account you’ll use. Some accounts are offered by employers, while others can be created through stockbrokers.
Some of the most common retirement account options include:
With so many choices and options to consider, it can be overwhelming at first. Do your research, speak with someone you trust, like your financial advisor, and weigh all options to make sure you feel comfortable with your decision. It’s important to choose the account (or, ideally, several accounts!) that are right for you and your lifestyle.
Diversify Your Portfolio with Long-Term Investments
Having a diversified portfolio is a good rule of thumb for retirement planning and personal finance in general. Diversification ensures that you are not putting all your financial eggs in one basket, so to speak. Having a healthy mix of investments, such as alternative assets, including hedge funds and real estate, in addition to the more commonly known stocks, bonds and annuities, will help reduce any unwanted risk to your capital and prove to be a solid strategy for your retirement plan.
Pay Off Your Debt Immediately
Debt can be a killer for your day-to-day finances and for your retirement plans. For older Americans, debt can be particularly dangerous, and the number of seniors with credit card debt, mortgage debt and student loans has exponentially increased over the years. Research finds that owing money has pushed people who are in their 60’s to postpone retirement.
The truth is that the best time to pay off your debt is during your working years. Debt snowballs as time goes on, and compounding interest will make the situation much worse if you wait until retirement to pay off debt. Make one of your 2021 New Year’s resolutions to prioritize paying off your debts before you retire.
Retirement planning can seem like a daunting task, but when thoughtfully crafted and executed, it can make all the difference during your golden years. And if there’s one takeaway I’d like to instill, it’s to start investing consistently today. I promise your future self will thank you, and will be so grateful for a retirement free of financial stress.
MORE FROM HERMONEY:
- How to Open an IRA
- I Have No Retirement Savings. Now What?
- HerMoney Podcast: Financial Planners, Retirement Specialists, And HSAs For Long-Term Care
- IRA vs. 401(k): What’s the Difference?
We’re in this with you. Join the judgment-free zone of like-minded ladies today: the HerMoney private Facebook group.