Only 39% of adults saving for retirement started in their 20s. Everyone else is starting to save much later in life.
If you are worried that you started saving for retirement too late, you aren’t alone.
People put off saving for retirement for a variety of reasons, including paying off student loans, the costs of raising a family, and the cost of living.
No matter your reason for not saving sooner, what matters most is what you do now to catch up. By learning financial independence in a variety of areas, you can make the most of your current funds and boost your retirement savings in a short period of time.
Look for a Side Hustle
One way to maximize your retirement account contributions and savings is to maximize your earnings. Finding part-time or temporary work is a great way to increase your income.
There are a variety of side hustles that medical professionals can pursue, including:
- Medical surveys: A variety of sites are looking for input from medical professionals, and are willing to pay for your opinion.
- Locum tenens: Locum tenens positions are temporary or traveling positions and fill interim roles in a hospital’s staff.
- Telehealth: Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of remote work is undeniable. This trend has expanded into the medical field, and telehealth has provided an opportunity for medical professionals to have an at-home side hustle.
These side hustles can fit around the responsibilities of your full-time job and bring in additional income that can go towards your retirement savings. These are also side hustles that you can continue to pursue after you retire from full-time work as a way to maintain a sense of purpose and bring in extra income.
Find a Passive Income Stream
There are several options for older adults who are interested in generating passive income, including:
- Real estate investing: Instead of dealing with the daily stress of buying a house or large property and renting it out, you can invest in passive real estate investment funds.
- The stock market: While some retirees enjoy managing their own stock portfolios, you can hire a financial professional to manage your investments for you and bring in passive income.
- Selling your expert knowledge: As an older adult, you have decades of experience in your chosen field, so why not use that to bring in extra cash? Creating instructional videos or written materials and selling them online can be a lucrative passive side hustle.
Each of these options requires some time to set up, but in the long run, they each require minimal time and effort and can bring in additional income. The upfront time investment and financial investment will continue to pay off well after your retirement.
Contribute to a Roth IRA
A Roth IRA provides a variety of benefits for those looking to set aside money for retirement. The primary benefit: Your contributions come from your post-tax income. This means that when you reach 59.5 years of age, you can withdraw money from the account without paying any further taxes on the amount.
Another benefit of a Roth IRA, as opposed to a traditional IRA, is that there are no minimum distribution requirements. This means you can decide how much of your retirement savings you want to use at any given time.
If you already have a traditional IRA, you can convert it to a Roth IRA to see these benefits by using a backdoor strategy.
Reduce Your Spending When Feasible
One way to increase your retirement contributions without increasing your income is to limit your spending. By reducing your non-essential expenses, you could free up funds that can go directly to your retirement.
Older adults can reduce their spending by limiting the money they put towards:
- Trips and long vacations;
- Cosmetic appointments;
- Home renovations.
By creating a budget and sticking to it, you’ll increase your ability to save for your retirement years. While reducing nonessential expenses may require some sacrifice, you will see the payoff when you reach retirement age.
Set up an Automatic Savings Plan
An automatic savings plan is a simple and effective way to set aside more money for retirement. Through your bank and the financial institution that houses your retirement account, you can set up automatic contributions. Each month, a set amount of money will be pulled from your checking account and deposited into your retirement account.
This system makes retirement contributions a routine part of your monthly expenses, and can take the guesswork out of your savings plan.
Delay Taking Social Security
Social Security is an important part of your retirement plan. If you are a high-earning individual, you may be able to increase your Social Security payments by delaying them until you are 70 years old.
This could mean using another retirement account to pay for your living expenses, or working a few extra years beyond retirement age. Either way, by waiting until you are 70, you’ll be increasing your monthly payments.
If You’re Married, Consider the Spousal Benefit
If you’re married, it makes sense to take advantage of the Social Security spousal benefit. To qualify, only one partner in a marriage needs to be eligible for retirement benefits. Once the eligible spouse starts claiming Social Security, their husband or wife can claim a benefit that equals 50 or 32.5% of their retired spouse’s insurance payment. They must be at least 62 or taking care of a qualifying child to qualify for the spousal benefit.
The 50% benefit applies when the working spouse reaches full retirement age, which was 67 in 2023. If they retire earlier, the 32.5% benefit applies. The only time it makes sense to not take the spousal benefit is if you’ve been working and your regular retirement payment will be more than the spousal one. But you can still file, and the SSA will pay you the higher amount.
No matter how old you are, it is never too late to start putting away money for retirement. By taking the initiative now, regardless of your age, you are providing for your future self. Whether you are 25 or 55, there are actions you can take to better ensure a happy and comfortable retirement.
When Is It Too Late To Start Saving for Retirement?
If you are an older adult, you may be worried that it is too late to start saving for retirement. This is a normal and valid fear. However, the truth is that it is never too late.
There are a variety of strategies that older adults can use to increase their retirement savings. In fact, the IRS has existing policies that were created to help older adults maximize their retirement savings. Older adults can contribute more to retirement accounts, such as a Roth IRA account, than individuals under 50 years of age.
These “catch-up” contribution policies, and other strategies, can help older adults build up retirement savings in a shorter period of time.