If you’re in your 50s, is it too late to start saving for retirement? At this point, should you plan on working until you physically can’t any longer because you’ve dashed any dreams of living out your golden years?
If you’re just getting started, take comfort in knowing you’re not alone. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), just 58% of Americans 55 years and older have $100,000 saved towards retirement, while less than 20% have saved $250,000.
Though it’s easier the earlier you start, so-called “late bloomers” can still pursue their dream retirement, provided you have enough motivation and a comprehensive plan.
In fact, because of the immediateness of your pending retirement, your focus and determination to aggressively save may push you well beyond the net worth of your peers who started accumulating years ago.
As a retirement planner in Newark, California, here are my top 10 tips for financial planning for late bloomers.
What is Financial Planning?
Before we jump into the tips and strategies, let’s make sure we’re clear on what I mean by financial planning.
Financial planning is the process of 1) Accessing your entire financial picture and 2) Determining where you want to go, leading up to and through retirement.
Step 1 includes looking at everything that is going on in the current moment: Income, expenses, assets, liabilities, retirement contributions, and savings/spending goals.
In step 2, you establish your dream retirement: What will you be doing? Where do you live? How often do you travel? Do you want to pay for a grandchild’s tuition? How long do you want to work?
Then, your financial plan is developed by starting with your end goals (step 2), considering your starting position (step 1), then reverse-engineering a plan to make the two connect. This can be done in various ways, utilizing strategies based on your situation, dreams, risk tolerance, and more.
Are You a “Late Bloomer”?
In an ideal world, you would have begun accumulating retirement savings as soon as you entered the workforce, around the age of 25. This way, compound interest can have as much time as possible to work its magic.
For me, anyone aged 40 and over just beginning the process of retirement planning is a late bloomer.
As I mentioned above, don’t stress if you’re well beyond this age. Yes, you’ll have to work much harder than your younger counterparts, but you can potentially reach all of your retirement goals.
The 10 Tips:
These tips are split into two chronological categories: 1) Pre-Retirement Years and 2) Retirement Years. Make sure to read both sections, so you will know every strategy you have available to you as you travel from where you are now to where you want to be.
In both categories, it’s a matter of cash flow: You need to save and contribute more now or cut down on expenses in retirement.
1. Decide how much you will need for retirement
What will it cost you to live your retirement dreams? How much income does your portfolio need to generate to fund your lifestyle? The answer to these questions will help determine the total portfolio value you will need to retire well.
2. Maximize your contributions to retirement accounts
401(k)s, 403(b)s, IRAs, HSAs, TSPs – they are the IRS’ gifts to humankind.
Any account with a set contribution limit should be utilized. For late bloomers, especially those aged 50 and older, these accounts have “catch-up contributions,” which allow them to make additional contributions to their tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Use them!
Maximizing your retirement account contributions may be the single most effective tool for making up for the lost time. Any extra money you have can be funneled towards these accounts.
If you live in a big city – where things are generally more expensive – can you move to somewhere where the cost of living is lower? Or do you need to live in the city for work?
Similarly, is your house the right size for your lifestyle? Or is it unnecessarily large?
Housing is one of the most expensive items we spend money on, if not the most. Saving yourself a few hundred bucks per month from moving or downsizing can go a long way towards making extra contributions.
4. Consider working longer
Most people retire in or near their prime earning years. By slightly delaying your retirement, you may be able to sock away disproportionately large sums of cash, enabling you to live a completely different lifestyle in retirement.
5. Add another stream of income
Consider starting a business or buying a rental property. Any extra income you can have now (and in retirement) will be incredibly beneficial.
6. Be realistic with your retirement dreams
I hate to be the one to say this, but you may have to take another look at all the things you want to do in retirement. By cutting off a few items from your bucket list, you can focus and spend on the ones that mean the most to you.
Again, reducing your cost of housing is one of the fastest ways to improve your monthly cash flow significantly. If you can, highly consider moving to somewhere/something more affordable.
8. Reduce expenses
Focus on intentional spending – Spending on what you care about, cutting back on things you don’t. This approach provides some leeway in what you choose to spend your money on, as long as you’re consciously choosing how it’s spent.
Need help getting started on intentional spending? Download our complimentary budget worksheet to get organized!
9. Retire in phases
If you’re worried about not having enough cash when you retire, consider taking on a part-time role. It may help you experience your retirement while maintaining some structure. You may prefer it more than full-time retirement.
10. Vacation smarter
Instead of planning on a Mediterranean cruise once per year, consider traveling to see your kids or siblings. It will significantly reduce the cost of your expenses and give you the chance to spend quality time on relationships you genuinely cherish.
If all of this is overwhelming to you, you’re not alone. The fact is, many people delay saving for retirement simply because they don’t know where to start, let alone have confidence they’ll be able to live the retirement they want. Plus, how many of us worry about running out of money?
This is where hiring a financial advisor who can lead the retirement planning process makes sense. We are trained professionals who work with people like you every single day. We understand and can relate to your concerns and want to give you the greatest chance to reach all of your dreams.
From the technical skills of financial planning, retirement planning, and legacy planning to the emotional connection of knowing who you are and where you want to go, hiring a financial advisor is the surest way to give yourself confidence today of a certain tomorrow.
Schedule a meeting with Humanity Wealth Advisors, and let us demonstrate our value to you.