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Planning for retirement: A financial guide


Steps to planning for retirement. 

If you are preparing for retirement then this will require consistent saving, investing, and avoiding penalties and fees. You can always find faster and better ways to save for your retirement if you take full advantage of workplace retirement benefits, and use government programs to their fullest, including things such as social security and Medicare. 

If you need help in figuring out when you can afford to retire, check out a retirement calculator. These are useful online tools that will help you to assess when you can financially retire comfortably. 

On top of this, here are some useful tips that will help you on your way to a comfortable retirement.

Regular saving. 

A key to making a good retirement plan is to try and save a portion of your paycheck as early on in your career as possible. In fact, it is recommended that you save about 15% of your pay each year for your retirement. If you cannot save that much, do as much as you can and increase it when you are able to do so. Even a 1% increase in how much you save each time could mean $30 or $40 each pay period, if this was to fall in line with a pay raise you won’t even miss the money. This is a great way to manage your finances and earn yourself a great road to retirement. 

Max your 401k match. 

If you have an employer that offers a 401k match, then you should try to save at least enough to get the maximum. If they were to match 50 cents on the dollar, up to 6% of your salary, then you should elect 6% of your salary. Doing this, you can get an early 50% return on your money by contributing a little of each paycheck, on top of what the investments earn over the course of time. 

Take advantage of planning tax breaks. 

We briefly mentioned taking advantage of government schemes, well, you should take advantage of retirement planning tax breaks. In 2021, you can actually defer paying income tax on up to $19,500 by contributing to a standard 401k plan, and this amount can jump up to $26,000 if you are over 50 years old. Income tax will not, therefore, be due on this money until you withdraw it. Or, you could simply contribute after-tax dollars to a Roth 401k and set yourself up for tax-free withdrawals. 

Whatever the way, it’s better than the alternative. And if you are a low to moderate income worker, then you could also be able to qualify for a savers tax credit. These tax benefits will also give you that extra incentive to start saving! 

Minimize fees in your retirement accounts. 

Much like you might compare the costs of outright buying or financing a car, you should also compare the fees when you are selecting retirement investments. Even a 1% fee could cost you tens of thousands of dollars over a 30-year period, so make sure you do your research and choose wisely. 

Take advantage of retirement planning tools. 

Using something like a retirement planning calculator can help you determine if you have enough money saved to cover the expected expenses. You could use a 401k calculator to figure out how much money you are likely to have at retirement given your current savings rate, and the investment returns.

Plan your estate. 

You can make life easier for yourself and your heirs by creating a clear plan for medical wishes and finances, ensuring you have a will and advance medical directive in place, and that beneficiary designations on your retirement and savings accounts are kept up to date. 

An estate plan is a genius thing that ensures that any assets left behind by you are distributed to the correct person/ place. 

Boost your Social Security Benefit. 

One of the most consequential decisions you must make for retirement is when you should sign up for social security. Payments are reduced if you sign up before you reach full retirement age, which is 66 for the baby boomer generation and 67 for millennials, and they will then increase each year you delay starting payments until you turn 70. If you should continue to work, or suspend your payment, this can also have an impact on your retirement payout. Remember that your benefit will be adjusted to keep up with inflation each year. For married couples, claimed decisions can be coordinated to maximize their benefit here. 

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