Saving in an IRA is a move that could position you for a very comfortable retirement. While you can look to Social Security to provide you with some income, those benefits generally won't be enough to cover your expenses in full. That's where your personal savings come in, and if you don't have access to a 401(k) plan through your employer, an IRA is a good bet.
Even if you are able to participate in a 401(k) plan, you may decide that an IRA is a better fit for a number of reasons, like fewer fees and more investing choices. But if you have an IRA and you're not pleased with the progress you're making in it, here are a few key moves to make.
1. Ramp up your savings rate
If you're an average earner with a lot of bills, you might struggle to allocate money to your IRA. But if you're not happy with your savings balance to date, then boosting your contributions is something you may need to consider. And while you can't snap your fingers and magically grant yourself a higher paycheck, you can consider getting a second job on top of your main one and using your earnings to pad your retirement account.
Another option? Rethink your spending. It may be that there are expenses in your budget you can cut back on, thereby freeing up more money for your IRA.
2. Take advantage of catch-up contributions
If you're 50 or older, you can make a $1,000 catch-up contribution in your IRA, bringing your total allowable annual contribution to $7,000. While an extra $1,000 a year may not seem so substantial, if you start making catch-ups at the age of 50 and don't retire until you're close to 70, you could be looking at a lot more money when you account for investment growth on that extra $1,000 a year.
3. Rethink your investing strategy
The money in your IRA shouldn't just sit in cash. In fact, the great thing about IRAs is that they give you a world of investing choices that can help you grow a lot of wealth. If you're displeased with the state of your savings, you might consider reassessing your approach to investing -- and getting more aggressive.
Though stocks tend to carry more risk than bonds, they also tend to deliver much higher returns. And so if retirement is many years away, it pays to go heavy on stocks in your IRA.
Furthermore, IRAs, unlike 401(k)s, let you buy individual stocks. If you take the time to research different companies, you might manage to assemble a portfolio that outperforms the broad market and leaves you with an impressive savings balance by the time retirement rolls around.
Don't sell your retirement short
You may end up relying heavily on your IRA to get you through retirement, so don't settle for limited progress. If your savings balance isn't where you think it should be, take these steps to turn things around and avoid a financial shortfall during your senior years.