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7 Tips for Late Starters on Saving for Retirement

Chloe Sorvino



Maybe you have refused to believe for the past 20 or so years that you’re getting older. Maybe you just haven’t had the funds.

Whatever reason it is, if you’re past 40 and you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, you need to start now.

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But you still have options, so don’t worry too much yet. Here are seven tips to help (and most of them don’t even involve payments into IRAs or 401Ks).

1. Contribute as much as possible. If you’re 50 years or older, the Internal Revenue Service lets you put away thousands of extra dollars a year towards your retirement savings. In 2012, the department allowed late-savers to contribute up to $22,000 to a 401K, which is $5,500 more than young workers. Check each year to find out the exact limits.

2. Invest to earn more. Even if retirement is 10 to 20 years away, you should take some risks with your savings. Investing some of your retirement funds in stocks or mutual funds will help your savings grow and will likely make up for some lost time.

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3. Delay retirement. If you continue to work for a few more years, even just one or two, you could save thousands of extra dollars towards retirement. You also may want to consider holding a part-time job during the early years of your retirement to keep a steady flow of funds coming into your accounts. You could designate that your part-time salary goes solely toward future retirement spending.

4. Wait to start Social Security. Each year you hold off from starting to receive your Social Security benefit from age 62 to 70, your monthly check increases. For example, at age 62, you earn $750 a month, while if you start at age 70, you get $1,320 a month. If you can hold off, it will pay off in the long run.

5. Pay off debts. Although you may think paying the minimum on your credit card debt is a financially sound, it will kill you with interest. And the more interest you accrue on debt, the less you will have to save toward retirement. Pay off your debts as soon as possible to stop increasing your overall expenses and start putting more away for your future.

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6. Eliminate unnecessary insurance. The more costs you cut, the more you will have to save for retirement. And while your situation may not be dire yet, you need to start saving as much as possible right away. The federal government recommends that you consider decreasing big monthly payments like car insurance. Specifically, consider dropping collision coverage on an older car or increasing your deductible if it is currently at a low rate, such as $250.

7. Downsize. These may not be the words you were looking to hear, but it is a good fallback option. If your children are out of the house, keep in mind you are paying extra in heating and air conditioning costs, as well as extra square footage that you don’t need anymore. If you downsize, you will be able to cut mortgage payments and put the extra money in your pocket toward vacations or save it in an emergency health care fund.

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