You’ve vowed to lose weight. Or to exercise more. Or to look for a better job. So how about making a few New Year’s resolutions to improve your retirement preparedness in 2017? The earlier you get started on these, the better you’ll feel about yourself.
Here are seven things to do to ready yourself financially (and mentally) for those golden years, regardless of how old you are.
Review your retirement investments — and for that matter, all your investments. Are you where you need to be for your age? How much do you have to save to catch up? Do you have the right kind of investments? If you can’t afford a session with a financial planner, get help from some of the popular financial calculators.
Learn more about the different ways you can save for retirement more effectively. A variety of tools, from 401(k)s to IRAs are available and their usefulness depends on age, your employment status, and various other factors.
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Save more. Remember that saving early and saving more allows the gift of compound interest to grow your money over time. A popular way to pump up your retirement nest egg is to increase your savings by 1 percent every year, or to invest bonuses and pay raises. Another recommended strategy: If you’re 50 or older, you can save even more than the IRS standard allowance. In an IRA, for example, older workers can put away $6,500 instead of $5,500 allowed for those under 50. In a 401(k), the 50-and-over set can sock away $24,000, compared to the standard $18,000.
Here’s a bit of encouraging news: Saving more is a top priority for many. The Fidelity Investments eighth annual New Year Financial Resolutions Study shows that 50 percent of those making resolutions for 2017 hope to save more. Of those hopeful savers, 64 percent want to put away money for such long-term goals as retirement.
Rebalance your portfolio if you haven’t already done so. It is likely that your allocation has shifted during the past year.Your asset allocation should reflect your age, with a smaller percentage of equities in your mix the closer you are to calling it quits from the job. But even millennials should keep an eye on their stock-bond mix.
Keep investments costs down. Consider replacing your high-fee funds with a comparable lower-cost alternative. Transaction fees and management fees can take a big bite of your returns.
Don’t leave money on the table. If your employer offers to match contributions, make sure you save enough to collect this bonus. It’s like free money. Three out of four 401(k) plans include employer contributions to workers’ accounts. Usually you have to contribute a certain amount to get the match. Check with your employer.
Pay off debt. Work down your credit card bills, student loans and other liabilities a little at a time. Attack the highest-interest debt first.