If the recession has caused you to fall behind on your retirement savings, you’re not alone. Forty-three percent of Americans had less than $10,000 saved in 2010. However, if you are one of the 43 percent, even if you haven’t saved anything at all, you can still retire comfortably regardless of your age, according to retirement planning specialist Derrick Kinney of Derrick Kinney & Associates.
“When you hear an expert in the media say you need $1 million to retire and you haven’t saved anything at all, it can be very discouraging,” says Kinney. “But your 40s through your 60s are the time when all the financial obligations associated with raising a family have decreased and you can finally focus on funding your retirement. It’s the perfect time to play catch-up.”
Kinney offers the following four tips for speeding up the process:
Step 1: Create a detailed catch-up plan. Determining the amount of money you will need in retirement can be difficult, says Kinney. You must factor in the inflation rate, your retirement age, the longevity of your retirement and your expected expenses, including your increased medical costs. For obvious reasons, calculating retirement income can get complex fast, but there are online calculators that can provide an estimate. Plus, there are some widely accepted guidelines you can use as a baseline such as planning to live on 80 percent of your pre-retirement income. After you have determined the estimated amount of money you will need to save, use that number to create realistic, yearly goals.
Step 2: Redirect spending to build your savings. Since you are beginning to save later in life, Kinney recommends you save 20 percent of your salary each month. Take advantage of online budgeting websites and smartphone apps that connect to your accounts and track your spending to determine wasteful spending habits. Cut out these habits and redirect the money to your savings account. Also, consider automatically directing any raises you receive to your savings account. You can’t miss money you never touched.
Step 3: Invest wisely and max out your 401(k). After you have built up your savings, you will need to invest some of it to ensure future income. Yes, the market does fluctuate, says Kinney, but overall, it has a pretty good track record and still remains a good bet against fighting inflation. Begin investing by maxing out your contributions to your 401(k), 403(b) or IRA. Next, consider purchasing exchange traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds. Make it a point to review your investments periodically to ensure they are performing to your expectations.
Step 4: Buy the appropriate insurance. Statistics show that nearly two-thirds of retirees will need long-term care either at home or through an assisted living facility and the cost can be upwards of $50,000 annually. To ensure skyrocketing medical costs won’t destroy their financial security, retirees should consider purchasing long-term care insurance as well as health insurance, says Kinney. It’s important to realize long-term care insurance does not cover the same day-to-day medical expenses that health insurance covers and if you retire at 59.5 you are on your own when it comes to providing health insurance. Retirees may also want to consider buying life insurance if they have dependents.
Following the above four steps can put anyone on the path to a more secure retirement, even if you’re in your 40s, 50s or 60s.