Retirement is something we all think about, but when it comes to the specifics - how much retirement income we'll need, and where that income will come from - many people feel uncertain and underprepared.
The best way to prepare for retirement is to take a proactive approach, and start planning as early as possible. In a webinar that I hosted last week, I discussed critical retirement planning steps, and why it's so important to start now. For those of you who missed it, I've outlined the top 4 steps you should be taking to prepare for your retirement.
4 Retirement Planning Steps to Take Now:
1. Join Your 401(k) Plan.
401(k) plans are among the best retirement-building tools an employee can have. However, many people still do not participate, even if their employer offers this valuable savings tool. The money that goes into your 401(k) account is taken directly from your paycheck before taxes and depending on your plan design, you could be eligible for the additional benefit of an employer matching contribution, which can add up quickly over the course of your career.
2. Increase Your Contributions.
It may surprise you how significantly your retirement savings will grow, simply by increasing the percentage of your salary deferral into your 401(k) account each paycheck. For 2016, you can defer up to $18,000 ($24,000 if you are over age 50) on a pre-tax basis. For many, however, it can be difficult to prioritize saving for retirement, which seems so far away, over more immediate financial needs. Increasing your deferral percentage a little each year can be an easy way to increase your savings without feeling too much of a dent in your paycheck. The more you save now, the more comfortable your retirement will be.
3. Review Your Asset Allocation.
You've heard the warning not to put all of your eggs in one basket. Asset allocation extends this logic to your investments, and involves strategically positioning your portfolio among asset classes according to your risk tolerance and financial goals. It is important to understand the level of risk you are assuming, and be aware of how this might change over time as you get closer to retirement.
4. Think About Your Daily Choices.
Wise retirement planning begins long before you give your boss your two weeks' notice. It involves analyzing current expenses, anticipating future outlays, and making sure that you have the proper savings strategy in place to cover them all. Are you saving enough to meet your retirement goals? If not, think about some things you can change now (for example, cutting out your morning coffee shop purchase, or packing a lunch for work) that can help you get back on track.
Although it's best to start early, it's never too late to start saving. As a guest blogger, I'm unable to respond to comments posted below, but if you have any questions please feel free to contact me directly and I will be happy to help!
*Kristen Zavaski is a guest blogger, representing Axial Financial Group in Burlington, MA. She offers securities as a Registered Representative of Commonwealth Financial Network, Member FINRA/SIPC. CRR, LLP (also represented as CRR, CRR CPA), Axial Financial Group, and Commonwealth Financial Network are separate and unrelated entities. Kristen can be reached at 781-273-1400 or email@example.com.
This material has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute either tax or legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend that you consult a tax preparer, professional tax advisor, or lawyer.