Happy New Year! It’s time to review our finances and figure out how we can make them better in 2018. In this post we will give focus to retirement savings. No matter what stage your finances are in, there is always something you can do to improve them. Here are some tips on how to improve your retirement savings in 2018.
Create a budget
A budget should be created or reviewed every month. If you haven’t created one before, here are the steps to doing so.
- Track your spending – figure out where all of your money goes every month.
- List necessary expenses – Bills, food, utilities, etc.
- List retirement savings – How much can you save after your bills have been paid? Save as much as you can.
- List discretionary spending – Fun money. If you are serious about your retirement savings, keep this to a minimum.
- List your income – Do you come out positive or negative? Make adjustments as needed.
To learn more about creating a budget, click here.
Increase retirement contributions
If you have a retirement plan through your employer, increase your contribution by a percentage point or two. Do as much as you are able to, but don’t stretch yourself to thin. Your goal should be to save at least 15% of your salary to your retirement accounts. Try maxing out your contributions. At the very least, you should contribute enough to receive the company match (if they offer one).
Click here to learn more about workplace retirement plans.
Open a Roth IRA
Whether or not you have a retirement plan through work, you should open a Roth IRA. This is another way to save for retirement with characteristics that are similar and different to an employer sponsored retirement plan. Click here to learn more about Roths.
Save your Raises and Bonuses
If you receive a raise at any point during the year, have your retirement contributions increase by the amount of the raise. You didn’t have that money before, so you don’t need it now. Save it instead.
If you get a bonus, put it right into your retirement savings instead of spending it on something you don’t need.
Make Catch-Up Contributions
If you are 50 years old or older, you have the advantage of making catch-up contributions. If you have an IRA it’s another $1,000 and if you have a 401(k) through your employer, it’s an extra $6,000. There are many different types of workplace retirement plans, however, so refer to link above to learn more.
Rollover old retirement plans
If you have changed jobs, and you participated in your previous job’s retirement plan, you should move it over to a trusted Financial Professional. This move is not appropriate for everyone, however, so consult your financial advisor first. In general, 401(k)s have higher administrative fees than an IRA.
Minimize your fees
Fees can dramatically eat away at your retirement savings. Old 401(k)s or mutual funds with high expense ratios could make a drastic difference on how your retirement savings looks after a few decades. If you are invested in mutual funds, please make sure expense ratios are below 1%. Keep your fees low to reduce the affect they have on your retirement.
Review your investments
Has your risk, time horizon, or goals changed within the last year? If they have, it’s time to change your investment allocation. If you find yourself less willing to take risks, it’s time to be more conservative. If your time horizon is shorter, again, time to be more conservative.
If your risk, time horizon, or goals haven’t changed, it’s time to rebalance your investment allocation. When you figured those things out a year or more in the past, you set yourself up with suitable investments. Rebalancing means setting up your investments to the correct percentages as they probably changed throughout the year.
There are so many things you can do to improve your retirement savings. You can cut costs, you can increase your savings, and you can adjust your investments. Save as much as you are able to for retirement because you will probably need more than you think.
Note: The material in the post is for informational purposes only. Please consult with a financial professional about your personal financial situation. Do not make decisions based solely on what you read or hear.