When saving for retirement, investing over the long term is the best way to carve a path toward financial security. Life, however, sometimes gets in the way and providing for those retirement years doesn’t become a priority until your 40s, 50s or beyond.
Don’t panic. There are still ways to build a sizable nest egg, even if you got a late start.
Max out higher limits
If you are age 50 or over by the end of the calendar year, you can add catch-up contributions to retirement accounts, allowing you to save more than the typical threshold. In 2019, catch-up contributions are as follows:
Individual retirement accounts (IRAs): Participants may contribute an additional $1,000, for a total contribution of $7,000.
401(k) and 403(b) plans: Participants who meet certain income thresholds may make catch-up contributions up to $6,000. Check with your plan administrator to see if you are eligible.
SIMPLE IRAs and SIMPLE 401(k) plans: Participants may make additional contributions up to $3,000 beyond the $13,000 annual threshold.
Devote savings to retirement
If you’re saving for a special purchase or a rainy day, begin earmarking that money for retirement. If you earn $60,000 per year and put away five percent, you’re adding an additional $3,000 per year.
Delay your retirement date
Putting off retirement can pay off, too. Let’s say you were born in 1954. Your full retirement age - the age at which you get your full Social Security benefit—would be 66. But if you put off retiring and collecting your benefit until age 70, each check will be 132% of what you would have collected four years earlier. Plus, you’ll continue to earn your salary and other compensation.
Start a business
Starting a new business can give you additional income—and powerful retirement savings tools. Self-employed people can open a Simplified Employee Pension (SEP), which allows you to contribute as much as 25% of your net earnings from self-employment up to $56,000 in 2019. Another option is a Savings Incentive Match for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA plan, which lets you put all your net earnings from self-employment into the plan up to $13,000 in 2019, plus an additional $3,000 if you’re 50 or older.
Downsize sooner rather than later
Make plans to downsize your home and reduce your overhead sooner, then devote that savings to bolstering your retirement funds. Consider investing your savings in mutual funds that are appropriate for your objectives and tolerance for risk and volatility.
Each of these actions has the potential to significantly add to your retirement savings and help you regain some peace of mind.