8 Tips for Creating a Successful Retirement Plan
If you’re nearing retirement with little to no savings, you might be a little worried about having a successful retirement plan. And while it is a tough spot to be in, you’re not alone. According to the Federal Reserve Board, one in eight adults in their 50s and 60s have no savings at all for retirement and less than half think their retirement savings are on track. Unfortunately, it’s a common problem.
The good news is, while not easy, you can start making changes today that will help you save money for your future retirement. Here are eight tips for creating a successful retirement plan:
1. Get out of debt.
If you have any existing debt – including a mortgage payment – it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and pay that off. Do whatever you can to eliminate this extra financial burden – even if it means saving less at first for retirement. That way, after your debt is gone, any money you bring home is yours to save and keep.
2. Take advantage of catch-up contributions.
If you’ll be 50 by the end of the calendar year, you can start taking advantage of catch-up contributions. As you near retirement age, you can invest an additional $1,000 in your Roth IRA for a total of $7,000 each year, and you can invest an extra $6,000 in your employer's retirement plan for a total of $25,000 each year. Max out these investments. This might mean investing more than 15 percent of your income. If that’s the case, make sure you’re out of debt before setting that much money aside.
3. Consider selling your home.
If you are still making payments on your home, it may be time to downsize. Actually, even if you own your home you could consider selling it and paying for a smaller, less expensive home in cash. You could then use the extra money to add to your savings.
4. Evaluate your lifestyle.
Now is the time to really look into areas where you could cut back on spending. Even seemingly small things like brown-bagging your lunch can save you a lot of money each year. For more helpful tips on saving money, visit our Medicare Learning Center and check out 10 Quick and Easy Ways to Reduce Your Retirement Expenses.
5. Be smart about Social Security.
Though it’s typically best to save for retirement as if Social Security doesn’t exist, at this stage of the game, Social Security is probably going to play a large role in your monthly income. If you or your spouse can continue to work and delay taking Social Security, this will increase your lifetime payment significantly. Say you’re around 62 right now, and you calculated your monthly payment to be around $1,200. If you wait to claim Social Security until you reach your full retirement age (between 66-67 depending on birth year), that monthly payment could increase by up to 25 percent ($1,500). If you’re able to delay taking benefits until you’re 70, your benefits will jump another 32 percent to $1,980 per month. For more information on waiting to claim Social Security, check out our “Benefits of Delaying Social Security” blog. Need even more details on Social Security? Visit our Medicare Learning Center and check out A Beginner’s Guide to Social Security.
6. Focus on your health.
Healthcare is an expensive part of life, and this becomes especially true as we get older. To keep this expense from putting your retirement savings at risk, spend time taking care of your physical health. One of the best ways to do this is to establish a good relationship with a primary care physician (PCP). PCPs not only provide you with basic medical care, they also help you better manage your health and any health conditions you are facing. They will also help ensure you get all of your preventive screenings done on time. Working with your PCP, exercising regularly and eating well can make a big difference in what you’ll spend on healthcare. For quick tips on how to make the most of your next PCP appointment, visit our Medicare Learning Center and check out A Primary Care Physician: Your Partner in Health.
7. Talk to a financial planner.
The best advice perhaps is to talk to a financial planner immediately. Though general rules of thumb are helpful, a financial planner can talk to you about your specific situation and what needs to be done to help you create a successful retirement plan. They can also help you make wise investments with what you save, and that can significantly increase your overall savings.
8. Keep working - and know that it's not a bad thing.
If you’re physically able to keep working, do. Even another two to three years in the workforce can make an impact. This gives you time to accumulate and invest additional funds for retirement and also lessens the amount of time you’ll need to live off of retirement dollars alone. If you aren’t able to work full time, even a part-time job can make a big difference in stretching your retirement dollars. And though working a little longer than your peers may feel like a negative thing, research shows that staying in the workforce longer can help reduce the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s and even heart disease. It may take a change in mindset, but working can help you stay active and sharp – which are both really positive things. For more information on delaying retirement, visit our Medicare Learning Center and check out Should You Delay Retirement.
Want more information on creating a successful retirement plan? Visit our Medicare Learning Center and check out Top 5 Things to Consider When Retiring.