Question: I’m contributing to a 401(k) and will have Social Security, but are there other ways I can save for my retirement?
Answer: Yes, there are a number of options to enhance your savings as well as better prepare for retirement financially.
One way to retire with more money is by saving more of your current income as you earn it. Thanks to the power of compound interest, even small monthly contributions to a retirement account, such as an IRA, can grow over time to a sizable nest egg. The more money you have to put aside over a longer period of time, the more your nest egg will grow.
For example, if you already have $10,000 in retirement savings at age 35 and contribute $200 a month at a projected 12 percent return rate, based on the 30-year history of S&P 500 performance, you could retire at age 67 with more than $1.1 million.
Your employer-offered 401(k) retirement plan already has contributions coming directly out of your paycheck. “Make sure your retirement savings is happening automatically. This eliminates the chance that you stop putting money into your retirement accounts,” said Michael Hardy, a certified financial planner with Mollot & Hardy.
Your employer likely matches your contribution so make sure you’re setting aside enough to get the full match. The most common match is 50 cents for every $1 contributed by an employee up to a certain percentage of pay — typically six percent.
Also be sure you’re saving enough. A Fidelity Investments study found Americans’ median retirement savings rate is 8.5 percent. But many retirement experts recommend contributing at least 10 percent or, ideally, 15 percent of annual income to retirement.
Some experts also add if you can’t set aside that much initially start small and increase your savings rate over time, perhaps by one percent a year.
To help you save more now, you might consider eliminating or reducing unnecessary spending. Tom Corley, CFP and author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals,” suggests you start by reviewing your bank and credit card statements. “You may uncover certain expenses for things you are not using, such as club memberships, subscriptions, automatic charges for services you’ve never used,” he said.
Of course, making wise money management decisions overall will help you now and with your retirement planning. For example, if you’re making ends meet on your current salary consider putting any extra you may receive from a raise or bonus into your retirement account rather than your bank account.
Also, monitor how your retirement savings are being invested. Money managers usually recommend diversifying your portfolio with a mix of stocks and bonds — or better yet, mutual funds.
Additionally, don’t fear some risk when managing your retirement funds. Ken Weber, president of Weber Asset Management, suggests putting most of your retirement savings into stock mutual funds when you’re in your 20s and 30s.
As you get closer to retirement age, you can lower your risk by investing in fixed-income assets, such as bond funds, in addition to stocks, Weber added. Of course, you shouldn’t take on more investment risk than you can tolerate.
These and other options for saving and money management can help with your retirement plan. The key is to develop a plan that works for you and your financial situation both now and in the future. Also, start your retirement plan implementation as soon as possible. You should be disciplined about your plan, but review it regularly to see if you are on track and make adjustments for any changes in your life or financial situations.