October 15, 2021
While you would ideally start saving for retirement when you earn your
first paycheck, that’s not reality for most Americans.
There may be many reasons for being unable to save for retirement, including having experienced financial hardship for a year or more, having to take time off from work to be a caregiver, or having accumulated medical or college debt.
No matter the setback, many people have much more time to save than they think they do. It is never too late to begin saving money for your retirement.
If you begin saving for your retirement in your 30s, you may have 30 years or more to grow your nest egg. During this time in your life, you may face many headwinds that can make it difficult to save for retirement. A mortgage, student loans, having children and the possibility of credit card debt may be factors in how much you can save for retirement.
The goal is to get the power of compound interest working for your retirement account(s) as soon as possible. Consider contributing to a tax-sheltered retirement vehicle such as a 401(k), traditional IRA, or Roth IRA to begin funding your retirement savings.
Ask your employer if they offer a retirement savings plan that matches a portion of the contributions you would make from your paycheck. If they do, consider saving at least the minimum amount to receive the full match. Don’t leave money on the table!
While saving for retirement should be your priority, you may also want to consider funding a 529 college savings plan to assist in paying for your child’s college education or tuition at any elementary or secondary school. Leaning on a 529 plan can make educational expenses much more affordable than paying for them using alternative funding methods and save you from having to dip into retirement savings to help pay for your child’s educational expenses.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to begin saving for retirement in your 30s, with some discipline and hard work, you can start investing for retirement at age 40 and still retire a millionaire. Let’s say you contribute $13,000 each year to your 401(k) plan from age 40 to 65.
If your employer matches the first 3% of your contributions and you receive a 7% annual rate of return on your investment portfolio, at age 65 you will have accumulated $1,049,956!
If you did not make saving for retirement a priority early in your career, it’s still not too late to catch up.
At age 50 you can start making extra “catch-up” contributions to your retirement account(s). Employees over age 50 that have access to a 401(k) plan can contribute an extra $6,500 from their paychecks each year, bringing the maximum amount that they can contribute to $26,000 for 2020 ($19,500 + $6,500). This presents a tremendous tax savings opportunity for employees who would like to pay less taxes both today and (potentially) later in their retirement years.
Another strategy to consider helping you catch up is contributing the maximum amount each year to a Roth IRA. Let’s say you contribute $7,000 a year to a Roth IRA from ages 50-65. After 15 years, you could accumulate a sum of $188,216 tax-free at age 65 (assuming a 7% annual rate of return).
Given the complex nature of retirement plan contribution matches, taxes, compound interest, age limitations, and the different types of accounts to consider, it’s wise to work with a financial advisor to help you map out a financial plan for your future. This is especially true if you’re just starting your retirement plan in your 40s or 50s.
Steve Dunn is a Financial Advisor with WSFS Wealth Investments and has been in the financial services industry for 10 years. He graduated from West Chester University with a BS in business management and has his MBA from Wilmington University. He holds FINRA Series 6, 7, 63, and 65 securities registrations and is appointed to do business in the states of DE, FL, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA TX and VA. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.