For better or worse, 2020 is almost behind us. And while that's a good thing from a mental-health perspective (let's face it... we all want to be done with this year), it also means the clock is ticking to secure your retirement. Here are a few key moves it pays to make before 2020 comes to a close.
1. Pad your IRA
It's probably too late at this point to sneak more money into your 401(k) plan, since that change needs to go through your payroll department at work. Plus, you technically have until next year's tax-filing deadline to finish funding your IRA.
But it still pays to pad your IRA now rather than wait. The reason? The next few months could be pretty bleak on the pandemic front, and it's not uncommon to shop as a means of comfort. Or you might shop out of boredom -- a winter cooped up at home will do that to you. Either way, if you have extra cash at your disposal, you'd be wise to sock it away for retirement before you're tempted to spend it.
Incidentally, putting more money into an IRA -- a traditional IRA, anyway -- will also lower your tax bill for the year. That could help you score a larger refund in 2021 or owe the IRS less money if you've underpaid your taxes this year.
2. Check your Social Security earnings statement
Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) issues all workers an earnings statement with a summary of their taxable wages for the year. If the information contained on that statement is incorrect, it could result in a lower retirement benefit, so if you haven't checked your most recent statement, make a point to get it over with in the next week.
If you're 60 or older, you should've received a copy of that document in the mail. If you're younger, you'll need to create an account on the SSA's website to access it there.
Your Social Security earnings statement will also include an estimate of your monthly benefit at full retirement age. The closer you are to retirement, the more accurate that estimate will be, but even if you're younger, it'll be useful information to store in the back of your mind.
3. Boost your health savings account contribution
Like IRAs, HSAs give you until the tax-filing deadline to make contributions, so you technically have until April of 2021 to fund yours for the 2020 tax year. But again, if you're sitting on extra cash, it pays to put it into your HSA so you avoid the temptation to spend it.
You might consider an HSA more of a near-term account as opposed to a retirement plan, since you can take withdrawals at any time to pay for medical expenses. But the best way to make good use of an HSA is to put in more money than you need immediately, invest the extra amount, and carry a balance forward into retirement, when healthcare could eat up an uncomfortably large chunk of your senior income.
Even if you're not planning to leave the workforce for quite some time, the moves you make at the end of the year could set you up for a more comfortable retirement down the line. As we celebrate the close of 2020, aim to tackle these important tasks. You'll be really thankful you did.