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Originally Published October 2012
The average American spends 20 to 30 years in retirement and according to the Social Security Board of Trustees, by 2033 Americans will only receive about 75% of what they have contributed to social security. Unfortunately this means most of us will be living on what we have saved for retirement. Whether that means you will be comfortable or not, is completely up to you. If you haven’t started saving yet, here are some easy tips to get you started.
You may not have guessed that saving isn’t the first step to living a dream retirement, but it’s true. The first step is to pay off high interest credit card debt. It does not make sense to get an 8% annual return on a retirement investment when you are paying 17% interest on credit card debt. Pay off credit card debt as fast as possible. Read 10 Tips to Help You Stretch Your Pay Check for ideas on how to get out of debt.
Then you need to figure out how much monthly income you will need while retired. You will basically have all of the expenses you have now, without the need to save for the future. Experts say you are likely to need 70% of your current income at retirement age to continue living the way you want; however, you might actually need more if you end up facing unexpected health issues or decide to take up an expensive hobby like traveling. To figure out how much of that must come from savings, figure out what your social security benefits are expected to be by going to http://www.ssa.gov/. If your social security benefits are not going to cover your expenses (and they likely won’t), you must have enough saved to cover the gap. To figure out how much you should be putting away each month for retirement, decide at what age you want to retire and then close the gap (example: if you need $100,000, are currently 30 and want to retire at 65, you will need to put $250 into savings each month). Be sure to take a look at your current budget to see what you could cut out so that you can ensure the retirement you’ve been dreaming of.
Saving for retirement is often only half the battle. For a lot of us, it’s nearly impossible to save the amount needed for a comfortable retirement-this is where investing becomes extremely important. However, when it comes to investing, there are no guarantees. Know your goals and your risk tolerance before you invest so that you can properly judge what investment opportunities are right for you. Also, make sure your stockbroker and the opportunity itself are licensed and registered with the Securities Division of the Indiana Secretary of State’s office. This will help you avoid investment fraud, which could drain an entire retirement savings. To check your agent or an investment opportunity, use the online searchable database at http://www.indianainvestmentwatch.com/ or call 1.800.223.8791.
If by retirement you have not saved quite enough money, you could work part-time. Working part-time will help stretch your retirement savings and it will keep you socially active and engaged-not such a bad thought, is it?
Additional resources for retirement planning: