5 Ways to Ensure You're Ready for Retirement
Here are five steps to ensure you are on track: 1. Take advantage of tax breaks (the government’s way of encouraging you to save for retirement). It is in the government’s interest for Americans to save enough on their own to live comfortably in retirement, so that government programs don’t have to foot the bill. For that reason, the government gives a range of tax breaks for retirement savings:
401(k)s and 403(b)s— Contributions are excluded from taxable income; distributions, including earnings, are taxable at retirement
Traditional IRAs— Contributions are fully tax-deductible for individuals and couples with no work-sponsored retirement plan, but deductions are limited for individuals and couples with work-sponsored plans and incomes over certain limits; distributions are taxed as ordinary income
Roth IRAs— Contributions are taxable; qualified distributions, including earnings, are not taxable at retirement
2. Don’t bank on a market boom. It’s a double-edged sword: in order to grow your savings large enough to be able to live comfortably for the 20+ years you’ll likely spend in retirement, you have to invest those savings in the market. But on the other hand, a market downturn can do significant damage to a nest egg. The key is to be vigilant about your investments and change your asset allocation as you near retirement. Generally speaking, you should have money in more aggressive investments the farther you are from retirement, and more conservative investments the closer you are. At the same time, you need to have a realistic idea of the kinds of returns you can expect based on your given asset allocation — because your projections of those returns are an important part of determining how much you need to save to retire comfortably. 3. Make retirement goals real to make it easier to sacrifice today for the sake of tomorrow. As human beings, we are notoriously bad at thinking of our future selves. But sacrificing today — paring down your vacation plans or buying a less luxurious car, for example — is easier if you have a clear, tangible concept of exactly what you’re sacrificing for. So sit down with your significant other and think of the things you want to do in your golden years. Maybe it’s an annual month-long European tour, or an Alaskan cruise, or once-a-quarter trips to visit the grandkids. Budget how much those plans will cost (taking inflation into account). 4. Make retirement savings automatic. Another way to make saving easier is to make it automatic — many advisors refer to this as paying yourself first. If the money you’ve budgeted as retirement savings never reaches your pocket, you’ll be much less inclined to spend it. Some retirement plans are already set up this way: an employer-sponsored 401(k), for example, will deduct your contribution from your paycheck. You can also set up other retirement plans — like IRAs — to deduct a certain amount from your bank account every month. 5. Take an honest look at how much you’ll need in retirement — and how much you have to save now to get there. The most important step to take is to determine, based on your current income and net worth, a dollar amount that will give you a replacement rate of 70% or more — and a strategy for saving so by the time you’re ready to retire, you’ve met your goal.
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This newsletter was prepared by Integrated Concepts Group, Inc. The opinions expressed in this newsletter are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual. It is suggested that you consult your financial professional, attorney, or tax advisor with regard to your individual situation. The views expressed are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by PlanMember Securities Corporation. Material presented is believed to be from a reliable sources and PSEC makes no representation as to it accuracy or completeness.