What to Do If You Have Saved Nothing for Retirement

Talking to a financial adviser can help you plan your retirement savings strategy.

Talking to a financial adviser can help you plan your retirement savings strategy.

Saving for retirement isn’t something you should neglect if you can help it. The best retirement advice you can follow is to start saving early and keep on doing it. You don’t want to hear the words “I told you so” when retirement time finally rolls around. If you’ve already put it off longer than you should have, it’s time to get down to serious business.

Start Saving

If you’ve saved nothing for retirement up to this point, your first step should be to get a savings plan in place. The sooner you start saving, the less money you will have to save to have what you’ll need to support yourself when you retire. Time is still on your side if you aren't past your 30s. Regular increases in your annual income in addition to how much you save toward retirement each year can increase your overall retirement savings. How much you’re actually able to stack up depends on how soon you start and market conditions. AARP offers a retirement calculator that estimates how much money you will need to maintain your pre-retirement lifestyle.

Cut Expenses and Eliminate Debt

If you're worried about having enough money for retirement, consider downgrading your lifestyle, spending less and saving more. Lowering your living costs now can help you save enough money to see you through your retirement years. You also need to keep your debts low. Avoid spending too much money throughout your working years so that you don’t find yourself owing huge debts when you retire. One way to control spending is to plan your budget so that you live on less than what you earn.

Diversify Savings

As a general rule, financial planners advise saving at least 10 percent of your earnings each year for retirement. If you’ve already put it off, bump up the number to 15 percent or more. By waiting until age 35 before you start saving a set amount annually for retirement, you will put away less than half the amount you would have if you had started saving that same amount when you were in your 20s, according to the website Bankrate.com. Likewise, if you aren’t contributing a chunk of your paycheck to a 401(k), there is no time like the present to start. At minimum, contribute enough to get the full employer match. Along with putting money into an employer-sponsored retirement savings plan, open a Roth IRA account from which you can withdraw money tax-free after you retire.

Plan to Retire Later

Plan to retire at an older age. By continuing to work past normal retirement age, you give your retirement savings accounts more time to grow. You also cut the number of years you will be retired so that you need less in your retirement kitty. The longer you delay retirement after age 62, the higher your Social Security benefit will be. Under current Social Security guidelines, if you continue working beyond your full retirement age, your benefit increases by a specific percentage until you retire or reach age 70. The Social Security Administration provides a retirement calculator to help you estimate your benefits.


About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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