As you grow older, your financial priorities change. While young college graduates might want to tackle student loans, baby boomers might be looking to pay down debts. Among older Americans, however, many wish they had prioritized retirement savings earlier.
A recent study by GOBankingRates.com surveyed over 10,000 adults to determine their greatest financial challenges. The findings of the survey show that retirement planning increasingly becomes a financial challenge for respondents as they age. While only 12.6 percent of respondents between the ages of 25 and 34 are concerned with retirement, 34 percent of baby boomers find planning for retirement a challenge.
Whether you’re a millennial straight out of college or nearing retirement, you can find ways to catch up on retirement savings. Here’s how to build sufficient funds to support your retirement.
Retirement Planning for Millennials
By 2020, millennials will account for one-third of all retail spending, according to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company. Yet while millennials will ramp up spending in the coming years, they struggle to prioritize retirement savings even with the power of compound interest on their side.
The earlier you start saving, the more money you can have in retirement. On saving for retirement, Jeffrey Bogart, registered investment advisor with Sila Wealth Advisory, said, “Start in your 20s. A retirement plan saving $350 per month at age 25 and increased by 2.5 percent per year, and earning a non-guaranteed 7 percent return, would have about $1.4 million at age 67.”
Bob Johnson, president of The American College of Financial Services, provided insight into the amount you would need to save on a monthly basis to accumulate $1 million by age 65. If you start saving at age 25, he said, and assume a 10 percent return on invested assets, you would need to save about $160 per month for 40 years.
“To provide more context,” he said, “the individual starting at age 25 would only be investing $76,800 over that 40 years and would have over $1 million. The difference of over $923,000 is interest and interest on interest — that is, compound interest. Young people have the unmatched advantage of time on their side.”
With the advantage of time, those in their 20s can also afford to assume riskier portfolios. Stock trading is increasing among this age group, with many millennials investing in their favorite brands, like Nike and Apple.
Retirement Planning for Older Millennials
Older millennials between the ages of 25 and 34 report being most challenged by the need to stick to a budget, and many are saving for homes. Although building an investment portfolio is not priority No. 1 for older millennials, procrastinators will miss out on the significant benefits of compound interest.
While a young millennial can amass $1.4 million with modest savings of $250 a month, “if that same person waits to age 35 to start saving … they would have about $654,000 at age 67,” said Bogart. “So waiting ten years cost[s] about $754,000 at retirement.”
Many people settle into their careers in their late 20s and early 30s. With a steady paycheck, you can tighten your budget to more aggressively tackle retirement savings.
Charlie Shipman of Blue Keel Financial Planning said it’s important that “a percentage of each paycheck — rather than a specific dollar amount — is contributed automatically to their 401k or other employer-sponsored retirement plan.” Saving a percentage of your paycheck will automatically increase the amount you save when you receive a raise.
Check your 401k plan to see how much you need to contribute to receive your full employer match. If you’re not receiving your full employer match, you’ll be “leaving free money on the table,” said Shipman. By age 35, you should have as much saved in your retirement plan as your current salary, according to Sharon Epperson of CNBC.
Retirement Planning for Young Gen-Xers
Paying off credit card debt is a major concern for those aged between 35 and 44, according to the GOBankingRates survey, but 1 in 5 say sticking to a budget is their biggest challenge. Freeing up funds to save can be trying because any available money can also be used to pay off high-interest debt.
If possible, consider putting part or all of any bonuses, tax refunds or other lump sum payments into your retirement savings, and don’t assume that your current retirement plan contributions are enough. Depending on your retirement goals and how much you have already saved, you might need to be saving more than 10 percent of your income, or even up to 20 percent.
Consolidate your debt with a low interest loan and pay off as much as you can each month. According to Johnson, to save $1 million by age 65, “the individual starting at age 35 would need to put aside $445 per month for 30 years.”
Retirement Planning for Older Gen-Xers
Older Gen-Xers aged between 45 and 54 would benefit from a consultation with a financial planner. Johnson calculated that the individual starting at age 45 would have to put aside $1,320 per month for 20 years to amass $1 million by the age of 65.
A financial planner can determine the best way to manage your retirement plan. They can also help you find ways to cut expenses and adhere to a sensible budget.
Small changes can have a significant impact. Downsizing your house might even be an option if you have children away at college. Epperson recommended to have three times your salary saved by the time you’re 45.
Retirement Planning for Baby Boomers
More than 1 in 3 baby boomers between the ages of 55 and 64 find retirement planning to be a major financial hurdle. With retirement just around the corner, many are either ramping up savings or else looking to cut monthly expenses.
Suze Orman suggested on Oprah.com to make additional monthly payments on your mortgage with the goal of being mortgage free by the time you retire. Taking on more debt at this stage in life, such as by taking out a home equity line of credit or borrowing for luxuries, is inadvisable.
By 55, you should have saved at least five times your salary. If you start your retirement savings at age 55, you will need to set aside $4,900 per month for 10 years to amass $1 million by age 65, according to Johnson.
Reaching Your Retirement Goals in Your 60s
For those in their 60s, Orman suggested checking Social Security options. Retirement benefits can be claimed once you turn 62, but a payout at this time might mean you receive up to 30 percent less than if you were to wait until you were 66 or 67 to retire, depending on your date of birth.
If you can work until you are 70, your retirement income could be as much as 75 percent more than the amount you would receive at 62. Downsizing your house is also a good option at this age if you have not already done so. Epperson recommended you have saved at least eight times your most recent salary by the time you are 67.