Ten years is enough time to stash away a sizable nest egg.
If you’re concerned that you don’t have enough money saved for retirement yet, you’re not alone. More than 42 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, according to a GOBankingRates survey.
Although this might give you some solace, it won’t help you reach the approximately $150,000 in savings that the average mid-60s retiree has. The good news is, with the right roadmap you can still put away a decent sum of money to help you get by in your later years — even if you’re already approaching retirement age. Sacrificing a bit now can pay big dividends when it comes to saving for the future.
Take on a Side Job
There has never been a better time to take on a side job as a freelancer. The so-called “gig economy” might sound trendy, but the economics underlying this working revolution seem to be here to stay. The gig economy includes everything from consulting and contracting to temping, freelancing, self-employment, side jobs and on-demand workers. Government economists estimate that by 2020, about 40% percent of the U.S. workforce will be laboring outside of traditional full-time jobs. If you can pull in just $500 extra per month for 10 years before you retire, that’s another $60,000 toward your retirement.
Increase Your Retirement Plan Contributions
The U.S. government understands the need for older Americans to increase their retirement savings, so it allows “catch-up” contributions to the retirement accounts of those ages 50 or older: If you contribute to an IRA, the standard contribution limit is $5,500 for 2018. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute an additional $1,000 to your IRA, for a total of $6,500.
Elective deferrals to a 401k, 457, 403b or the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan are capped at $18,500 for 2018. However, people 50 and older are allowed to defer an additional $6,000 into their plans.
What You Can Save
It might seem difficult to jump from no savings to the maximum contribution level overnight, but starting somewhere gives you a base to build on for the future. For example, if you start contributing 5% of your salary into a retirement plan, try to increase that amount in small increments on a quarterly or even monthly basis. If you bump up your contributions by 1% month, for example, you might not even notice the difference from one month to the next. But by the end of the year you’ll have increased your contribution rate from 5 percent of your income to 17%, at which point your retirement savings will really start to accelerate.
To help you stick with your plan, set up automatic deductions from your paycheck or bank account. If you can reach that 17% savings level and you earn $50,000 per year, you’ll be tucking away $8,500 per year in your retirement plan, or $85,000 in total if you’re 10 years away from retirement.
Living within your means is great advice for savers of any age, but if you’re staring down retirement and you only have a small nest egg, you’ll have to go one step further. Beyond simply living within your means, you might need to cut out some of your “wants” or luxuries if you plan on having a more secure retirement.
What You Can Save
In some cases, the best way to save on your expenses might be to move to a less expensive city. The more you can live without now, the more breathing room you’re providing for yourself in retirement.
Moving doesn’t have to be your first step, though. Start small and cut out $25 in entertainment expenses each month. Over 10 years, that equals $3,000 in savings.
Your retirement nest egg will last longer if you invest part of it rather than just keeping it in a savings account. The national average savings account yield as of June 4 was just 0.08 percent. With inflation running at 2.1% per year, you’re actually losing purchasing power by keeping all your money in cash or savings.
What You Can Save
No matter how conservative an investor you are, to get your money to last throughout your retirement, you’ll need some exposure to growth investments like stocks. Earning even 5% on a $10,000 portfolio over 10 years would result in about $6,300 of additional funds at retirement.
You’ve likely acquired assets over your life that carry value, so ask yourself what purpose those assets now serve. For example, if you have an art collection or a classic car that are mainly just conversation pieces, they could be extremely valuable if you sell them and put that money toward your retirement. The right geeky collectible could make you millions. Other, more mundane items can also be sources of cash.
What You Can Save
For example, if you have an old CD or DVD collection, you might be surprised at how much money you could raise selling them online. The same goes for furniture you no longer need or use, or other household items.
Even just a few thousand dollars in sales can help you get closer to $150,000 in overall retirement savings.
Access the Value of Your Home
Home ownership is often overlooked when it comes to retirement savings, even though it represents a big part of many Americans’ financial picture. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s homeownership rate was 64.2 % as of the 2018 first quarter. With the median home value reaching $215,600 as of May 2018 according to Zillow, many American families actually do have the assets to help them get through retirement. There are at least three ways you can tap the money tied up in your home while still having a place to live?