By Liz Knueven
April 27, 2021
Saving for retirement is a long process, and sometimes, it simply feels overwhelming.
Chances are, the goal you have set for yourself is many times your income. And, you're probably already contributing a good chunk of your salary.
- Personal finance expert Tiffany Aliche outlines five hacks for retirement savings in her new book.
- Use an employer's match to increase your savings, and use a Roth IRA to keep more money later.
- Consider basing your total savings goal on your expenses rather than how much you earn.
If you feel like you might never make it to the finish line of retirement savings, these hacks from personal finance expert Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche might help. She outlines these hacks in her new book "Get Good With Money," and they might just help you put your retirement goals within reach.
1. Use your employer match to lower what you need to contribute
If you have an employer match through your office's 401(k), you have a major advantage when it comes to retirement savings.
An employer match is essentially free money that a company contributes towards your retirement when you save. These matches can go up to a certain percentage of your income, and it could be a big benefit for you later on.
If you want to save 15% of your income for retirement, you may only need to save a part of that percentage, Aliche writes.
"This percentage counts towards your total percentage goal," she writes. As an example, she breaks down what would be required for someone who wants to save 20%. "If they [your employer] put in 6%, you can put in your own 14% and you're up to 20%."
2. Use a Roth IRA to increase what you'll keep later — and ultimately your total savings
If you're eligible for a Roth IRA, this type of retirement account could provide a big savings hack that will come in handy later.
Roth IRAs are funded with money you've already paid taxes on. You pay taxes on the money you put in, the money grows over many years, and you take it out tax-free. The whole balance is yours to use in retirement, instead of having to pay taxes on the money you take out like you would with a traditional IRA.
Aliche says this could help to lower how much you actually have to save. "The more you invest in a Roth, the less you have to save overall because your taxes will be lower later," she writes.
While there is a limit to what you can contribute to a Roth IRA (it's $6,000 in 2021) money saved in this account can bring a big boost later on. And, unlike a 401(k), you can open a Roth IRA and contribute on your own.
3. Remember that your expenses are going to go down, and save accordingly
Setting a goal for retirement savings generally means aiming for a certain multiple of your income — generally, experts lean on 25 times your annual income for a ballpark estimate for how much to save for retirement.
While experts tend to recommend saving 25 times your annual income as a goal, 12 times your income may be a more realistic goal. That's because you likely won't spend as much in retirement as you do now.
"Your expenses will be reduced when you reach the conventional retirement age in your mid-60s so you simply won't need as much money," Aliche writes.
While some costs like healthcare can go up in retirement, you'll likely still be spending less overall. You might downsize after children move out, or pay off your mortgage before you retire. In your older years, you may not be doing as much as you once were.
Unless you plan on living an extravagant lifestyle in retirement, it might be OK to save a little bit less if it makes saving more doable. "If you don't mind retiring later with less, you can save less," Aliche writes.
4. Focus on saving a multiple of your expenses rather than your income
If you aren't comfortable saving 12 times your income versus the generally recommended 25, another hack could help bring down your savings goal less drastically.
Aliche recommends saving a multiple of your expenses, rather than a multiple of your income, since it's most likely a lower figure.
"You really only need to have your expenses saved because they are a clear picture of what your life will actually cost you during retirement," she writes. "And, if you reduce your expenses later on in life, your money will stretch even further."
5. Start with what you can and increase it later
The best move you can make with retirement savings is starting sooner rather than later. Aliche writes that starting as soon as you can will give you a big leg up in your savings journey later, and will be worth it.
"Start where you can even if it's 0.5% [of your income], 1%, or 5%," she writes. The sooner you start, the more time your money will have to grow. Retirement accounts grow like a snowball, earning money based on compound interest. This type of growth accumulates over time and is very powerful over many years, no matter how much you put in.
"The key is to start now and to remember that the higher percentage of your income you dedicate to this, the faster you'll get to your goal," Aliche writes. Saving more later on is always a possibility, and you're able to change the percentage by logging into your retirement account online.
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