How Should I Be Saving for Retirement?

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Saving for retirement requires intentional planning.

Different stages of life have different demands and concerns.

Whether you are young or seasoned, retirement should be prioritized.

With so many demands on finances, this is not always easy to do.

According to a recent Skimm article titled “9 Retirement Questions from Skimm’rs, Answered,” the best planning starts early and is consistent.

Living in retirement requires money.
Saving for retirement should be done incrementally.

For example, say you recently graduated and have student loans.

The grace period for the loan is ending.

Income is tight.

What should be done?

First, save a few months of income into an emergency fund.

This will allow you to continue making loan payments and covering your living expenses should you lose your job or change jobs.

After you have this money tucked away, start setting aside money into your company 401(k) plan at work.

If your employer has a match, you should contribute at least the maximum amount.

This is essentially free money.

What should you do if your employer does not have a 401(k)?

Take advantage of individual retirement accounts.

Some small-businesses or self-employed businesses take advantage of SIMPLE IRAs.

With these, the employer is required to contribute to the account on behalf of the employee, even if the employee makes no personal contributions.

You may also have a personal IRA.

These can either be a traditional or a Roth IRA.

What is the difference?

With a traditional IRA, taxes on contributions are deferred now and taxable when withdrawn.

With a Roth IRA, contributions are made with post-tax income now and are not taxable when withdrawn.

A Roth IRA may only be opened if you have earned income.

The maximum annual contribution to the Roth in 2019 is $6,000, but increases to $7,000 if you are over age 50.

Is one better than the other?

This depend on your income situation.

If you are new to the workforce and under the IRS income threshold, you may opt for a Roth IRA.

If you fall within a higher income bracket, you may choose to a traditional IRA to defer taxes until you make withdrawals.

If you are in your mid-30s, evaluate where you stand in terms of saving for retirement.

How much should you have in savings?

By age 30, you should have half of your salary saved in retirement.

By age 40, your retirement accounts should double your salary.

By age 50, these accounts should hold four times the amount of your salary.

By age sixty, you should have six times your salary saved.

Many Americans do not meet these benchmarks, but these are all solid goals.

You can save as much as $19,000 a year for retirement.

Bump up the amount as much as you can every year to get closer to this maximum contribution.

A good goal? Habitually save 10 percent to 20 percent of your annual income for retirement.

Starting these habits early, will set retirement saving as a priority even as your income increases.

It is likely your expenses will increase in retirement with higher medical expenses and more leisure time.

Although you may need more than your current income in retirement, you should at least plan to annually spend at least 70 percent to 90 percent of your current income each year.

Saving early and often is the best way to set yourself up for a financially secure retirement.

Resource: the Skimm (Sep. 16, 2019) “9 Retirement Questions from Skimm’rs, Answered”