Finally starting to think about retirement, but no idea where to start? Or maybe you’re a bit closer to riding off into the retirement sunset, but aren’t sure you saved enough for what you have planned for your golden years. Even if you’re frugal with your money in retirement, you should still expect your expenses to be at least 60% of what they are now–and most people should probably aim to have enough savings to cover 80% of what they currently spend.
More than half of people ages 55 and older have less than $10,000 saved for retirement…and 34% don’t have anything saved at all. Don’t be a statistic! Read on for some tips on maximizing your money now, so you have options later:
KNOW YOUR OPTIONS.
401(k) is the darling, but she’s not the only girl at the retirement party. If you work for yourself, you have a whole bunch of fabulous other options like a SEP or SIMPLE or Solo 401(k). If you work for someone else, you might have profit-sharing plans or pension plans available that you don’t know about. In some cases you can have more than one (!) and when it comes to saving for retirement: the more the merrier!
BE AN INDIVIDUAL.
Get down with an IRA or individual retirement account. You can get this at your bank. It’s not either/or with your 40(1)k or other plan…it’s both! The great thing about an IRA is that you can take it anywhere, wherever you work. The earlier you start, the more compound interest works in your favor–where your money makes you money, because you make money off the interest.
GET THAT DEBT MONKEY OFF YOUR BACK.
The compound interest I was just talking about? It can really grow your money, but it can also work against you with credit card debt. This means it’s eating into your Betty White retirement status faster than you realize. If you’re trying to save for retirement but still are dealing with credit card debt, you gotta come up with a plan to prioritize to pulverize. The highest interest rate debt should go first (typically, your credit card). Then lower interest rate loans from there, including student loans and your mortgage. Don’t screw yourself by overpaying in interest when you could be ensuring that future you lives out her older days in style.
You know I love to negotiate everything. Sometimes it is truly as easy as just asking. Especially if you have money at one bank, just call them up and ask for lower fees. If you have $100,000 saved and pay 1% in fees, over 20 years it’ll cost you $28,000. That’s $28,000 that could have gone into your retirement! Make sure you’re asking about administrative fees, and aim to keep fees under 1%.
Err…the fool being you. Set up automatic deposits by either getting your employer to do a payroll deduction, or have your money automatically moved from your checking account to your IRA. If that money is going into your retirement account automatically, there’s less risk that you’ll spend it.
FIND A SIDE HUSTLE.
It’s all about smart, passive income. Contribute to your nest egg so you can retire, and find something you can do after you retire to keep some money rolling into your accounts. You can walk dogs, sell your clothes and/or jewelry, deliver food, drive Uber or Lyft…your hobbies can make you money. And more money = fewer retirement problems.
Do you need a big fancy pad? If so, can you rent out a room and make some extra money? What about renting your parking space? Get smart now. If you downsize in your current life, you can live large later. Some people take equity they have in a bigger home, and then pay cash for a condo or apartment to prep for their retirement days.
THINK OF A MINI RETIREMENT.
You’re the captain of your own ship, there’s no one saying you have to “retire” like everyone else. A full retirement is a lot of pressure. Work 40 years to try to save up a bundle as a grand finale? If that works for you, great. But think outside the box too. Little year-long retirements or sabbaticals of sorts are becoming increasingly popular. Perhaps a break for a year will re-energize you to go back to your job part-time (or maybe even full time).
You can start social security checks as early as 62 and as late as 70, but if you delay receiving them, your benefits grow. Every year you delay, your benefits grow by about 8%. If you delay until you’re 67-70 years old, your benefits get 24% bigger.
Many people dream of spending their retirement underneath palm trees by the ocean. This can actually be doable, even if you don’t have millions in the bank…but you might not be staying on US soil to do so. Social security alone is not enough to retire in the states (with the average monthly retirement benefit of $1300), but it can be in other countries. Think about an exotic location you’d like to be, and research the costs of living there. You may be surprised! A little bit can go a long way in places like Mexico, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and Thailand. And if you’re able to spend four or five thousand a month, you’ll be living like a queen. For example: in Guatemala, the cost of living is 25% of that in the US. You can get a full time staff of a housekeeper and gardener for about $300/month, and a live-in nurse for $500. The average cost for that in the states would be about $4,000.