If your employer has a 401(k) plan and you don't contribute to it, you're walking away from one of the best deals out there. Ask your employer if they have a 401(k) plan (or similar plan), and sign up today. If you're already contributing, try to increase your contribution. If your employer doesn't offer a retirement plan, consider an IRA.
Here's what you need to know to get your retirement on track.
1. Planning for Your Future Retirement
Having the retirement of your dreams takes planning. In many cases you may have 30 or more years to seriously think about what you want to do in retirement and how you are going to get there. Time can either be your greatest asset or your worst enemy. If you start early, time is on your side and your money can work hard for you. If you wait until retirement is just a few years away you have very little time to catch up.
2. How Much Money You Need to Retire
This is the million dollar question. How much money do you actually need to have saved up for retirement? The problem is that this number isn't the same for everyone. It depends entirely on what you want to do in retirement, at what age you plan to retire, and what kind of lifestyle you expect to have. Some people can retire with very little saved while others might need a lot of money in the bank. Learn how to calculate what your retirement savings goal should be.
3. The 401(k) Plan
One of the most popular benefits that employers offer is a 401(k) plan. This is a retirement plan that allows you to direct a portion of your paycheck into an investment account. The idea is that you save some money on taxes by making these pre-tax contributions while also choosing investments that will grow over time so you can retire with a nice sum of money. There are a few benefits and drawbacks of the 401(k), so learn how you can best utilize yours if you have one available.
4. The Traditional IRA
If you're interested in having complete control over your retirement investments, then an IRA is for you. These individual retirement accounts offer many of the same benefits of a 401(k) while also giving you complete control of where to put your money. Of course, not everyone is eligible and there are lower contribution limits, so find out if a Traditional IRA is right for you.
5. Finding a Lost Pension
Did you work for an employer in the past that might have closed down or went bankrupt? Or what if your current employer is thinking about closing and you're owed a pension? Don't worry, your pension is likely still safe. Here's what you need to know if you're tracking down an old pension and how your pension might be protected in the event your employer goes under