You might have heard (or, ahem, been warned) that if you're planning to retire on Social Security alone, you could be headed for one extended financial disaster. With the average monthly benefit today coming in at just $1,543, that's not a whole lot of income to live on.
That's why it's crucial to take matters into your own hands when it comes to savings. But what if you're behind in that regard?
Not to worry. These easy moves will help you ramp up your retirement savings and amass a nice pile of money before your career comes to a close.
1. Bank all of your raises and windfalls
Ideally, you'll get a raise most years throughout your career, if not annually. Since that's money you're not used to spending, an easy way to boost your nest egg is to send that cash right into your retirement plan.
Similarly, you might come into extra money at random times. Think back to last year and earlier this year, when stimulus checks went out to the public on three separate occasions, as one example. Granted, you may have needed that money to cover essential bills, but the point is that you could, at different points in time, come into extra cash, and sticking it into savings is a smart move.
2. Take advantage of your full employer 401(k) match
Many employers that offer 401(k) plans also match workers' contributions to varying degrees. If you contribute enough from your own paychecks to claim your full match, you could wind up with quite a lot of free money that boosts your retirement plan's balance nicely.
Imagine that over a 20-year period, you claim an annual 401(k) match of $2,400. Invest your savings at an average annual 8% return, and you'll be sitting on roughly $110,000 in funds from your employer alone.
3. Pay attention to investment fees
The investments you choose in your retirement plan won't all cost you the same amount of money in fees. If you want to keep those fees to a minimum so they don't eat away at your returns, stick to passively managed index funds. They're a more cost-effective option than actively managed mutual funds, whose fees (known as expense ratios) can sometimes be 10 times as high.
4. Go heavy on stocks
If you want to turbocharge your retirement savings, investing in stocks is a good way to go. If you have an IRA, you can generally add individual stocks to your retirement portfolio. With a 401(k), you're limited to funds, but you can focus on those that are stock-heavy. In fact, one good option to look at is an S&P 500 index fund, which allows you to benefit from any gains the broad market enjoys.
In our example above, we used an 8% average annual return to calculate a potential plan balance for matching dollars. That return is attainable with a stock-focused strategy.
Your retirement savings could be just the thing to get you through your senior years without financial stress. Make these easy moves to give your nest egg the boost it needs for the long haul.