One of my favorite things about being a personal finance blogger is getting to discover and read some great books. This week I want to share some wonderful stories and experiences I read from Clark Howard’s new book, Living Large for the Long Haul.
In it he shares the stories of over 50 different people from all socio-economic backgrounds who have improved their finances even through The Great Recession. Included among the numerous stories are couples, young and old, who are working together to get out of debt, build their wealth, and invest in their futures.
Catching Up on Investing for Retirement
While I’ve mention before the importance of getting an early start with investing for retirement, even starting with small amounts for your initial investments, the reality is there are many couples who are behind on what they need to save. The good news is with some team effort, you two can get yourselves on the right track.
Mike Pollard and his wife are working hard at saving for retirement. Mike is 50 and had just $30,000 in his portfolio, much lower than what he needs to have if he wants to retire at 65. Most people would be so discouraged that they don’t even bother to fix the problem while others would simply be in denial and just hope that their Social Security income will be enough when they retire. That’s not the Pollards style.
Mike has bumped up his retirement savings to 14% of his income and his wife is setting aside of her income. In addition to their savings, they are also taking advantage of their employer’s match program, giving them a dollar for dollar match for the first 4% they put into their accounts.
Working as a Couple for Retirement
What if you’re in the same boat as Mike and his wife? While not an ideal situation to be in, you two can still ramp up your contributions between now and when you retire.
- Check your employer’s plans. Employer sponsored plans like 401(k) can be a fantastic tool for building your retirement plans. One benefit of saving in a 401(k) is that your contributions are tax deferred. That means that you lower your taxable income now while investments grow for retirement later. Some employer’s also offer a match for your contributions, making a good deal even better.
- Max out contributions if possible. Right now if you’re 50 or older, you can contribute up to $23,000 each year (per person) in a 401(k), 403(b) or Thrift savings Plan and $6,500 for an IRA (though there are income eligibility requirements with IRAs). even if you can’t max out your accounts, putting away something is much better than nothing.
- Automate your contributions. The easiest way to stay on target for your investment goals is to go ahead and automate your IRA contributions. It has certainly helped me avoid skipping deposits.
- Increase your contributions every six months. Twice a year look at your budget and see if you can tweak your budget to boost your contributions. A little goes a long way.
I definitely like Vanguard and Betterment as places to invest your IRA contributions. They are both some great no hassle, low cost options that make it simple to invest in your future.
Thoughts on Jump-starting Your Retirement Investing
I’d like to hear your take on investing and where to begin. How have you started with your investing? What was the most difficult step in setting it up? Was it easier or harder than you expected?
Photo Credit: Behavior Gap