Written by Gabby Revel
When we’re young, retirement is some vague concept floating on the edge of our consciousness – maybe. For many caught up in the throes of youth, retirement is not a thought that comes anywhere near the surface of cognitive thought. That is, until we wake up one-day staring at the tail end of age 50.
Reality sets in with a vengeance then, and retirement looms large like an insurmountable mountain that’s building an avalanche to bury us in the next 10 to 20 years. Realizing you have little to no nest egg built up means nothing at age 20; at age 50, it’s a good precursor to a coronary.
The times, they are a-changin’
If you’re staring at a nearly empty nest egg, you’ve got a lot of changing to do if you’re going to catch up on your retirement savings. The time has come to get serious about your finances, and you don’t have a lot of wiggle room to play around. You need to sit yourself down, take a full accounting of your assets and liabilities, and calculate your net worth.
Think about what expenses you will have after retirement. What expenses do you have now that you may not have in retirement? When looking at these, you may find areas in your current situation to cut back without compromising your lifestyle. What would you be willing to sacrifice if the budget gets squeezed and what is your “essentials”?
Comparing where you are today with where you wish to be comfortable in retirement is an important part of planning your retirement strategy.
Once you’ve taken these steps, then run – don’t walk – to your favorite financial adviser. He or she will tell you what you need to do in order to catch up your nest egg and get on track for retirement. These steps won’t be easy and won’t be a lot of fun, but you’ve had your fun in life. It is time now to get serious.
Playing catch up
Don’t be surprised if your adviser tells you that you’ll have to continue working for a period of time longer than you’d hoped. He or she may suggest that you consider continuing to work on a part-time basis for a while after you’ve reached the upper limit of your normal retirement age range. This strategy will give your more time to feather your nest egg and increase your Social Security benefits.
Your adviser’s advice will probably include taking advantage of some perks offered by Uncle Sam to those over the age of 50. If you have a 401(k) through your employer, look into making the maximum contribution allowed. This will also let you take advantage of any matching funding your employer offers.
If you don’t have a saving plan through your employer, your financial adviser can help you set up a private fund or Roth IRA.
Jump into the market
If you aren’t familiar with stock portfolios and mutual funds, you should consider a little research on the subjects before you talk to your financial adviser. In order for you to catch up your nest egg to where it should be, stocks will probably represent a substantial chunk of your budding retirement portfolio.
How much you invest in the stock market will be determined by how much risk you’re willing to take on. The stock market offers the most opportunities for substantial growth to pad your burgeoning nest egg. Your financial adviser will discuss the risks involved and help you make an informed decision on the composition of your retirement investments.