Retirement saving tips for late starters

According to a survey, one-third of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Courtesy photo.
According to a survey, one-third of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Courtesy photo.

Despite countless television ads touting the virtues of retirement planning, it seems many people are not getting the message.

According to a survey, one-third of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. The picture is not any rosier in Canada, where Statistics Canada reports that just 65.2 percent of the country’s 14 million households contributed to a retirement plan in 2015.

Financial advisors recommend men and women begin saving for retirement as early as possible. The longer people delay opening a retirement account, the less time their money will have to grow. Those who never open such accounts may not be able to meet their cost of living in the future.

While it pays to start saving for retirement early, late bloomers who need to catch up should know that it’s never too late to start.

  • Sign up for an employer-sponsored retirement account. Many employers arrange for retirement savings accounts like a 401(k) for their employees. Such accounts are typically tax-deferred. As a result, men and women likely won’t even notice the money missing from their paychecks each month. Take advantage of such offerings if they exist. Such opportunities can be even more beneficial to late bloomers whose employers match contributions up to a predetermined percentage.
  • Start saving as much as possible. Many people contribute 6 percent of their pay to a retirement savings account such as a 401(k). That rule of thumb may be enough for young workers, but late bloomers may need to contribute a higher percentage of their incomes if they hope to catch up. If 10 percent is doable, then contribute 10 percent, being sure to diversify how that 10 percent is invested. Workers who can afford to contribute more might want to explore other retirement account options so they avoid putting all of their eggs into one basket.
  • Avoid high-risk investments. Investors trying to catch up on retirement savings may be tempted to invest their money in high-risk funds with the hope of making up ground quickly. But investors typically want to reduce risk as they get older. That approach should still govern late bloomers’ investing decisions, as high-risk funds that don’t perform well could leave aging investors with little to nothing come retirement. Prospective investors who need help choosing the right funds for themselves should contact a financial advisor.
  • Cut spending. Men and women getting a late start on retirement saving should examine their monthly expenses, looking for places to cut costs so they can reallocate those funds for retirement savings. Some ways to considerably reduce monthly expenses include cutting the cord with a cable provider, driving a pre-owned vehicle instead of a new model and downsizing to a smaller home.

Men and women who have delayed saving for retirement should not panic. While it’s always best to begin saving for retirement as early as possible, there are ways for late bloomers to catch up and/or create a decent-sized nest egg for their golden years.