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15 Moves to Make if Your Retirement Nest Egg Is Falling Short

By Maurie Backman - Oct 13, 2022 at 7:00AM
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15 Moves to Make if Your Retirement Nest Egg Is Falling Short

Don't settle for limited savings

You'll need a decent amount of savings to live comfortably in retirement. But finding money for your nest egg is easier said than done. If you're worried that you've fallen behind on savings and will end up with a shortfall, here are a few critical moves to make.


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1. Rework your budget

If your budget doesn't leave you with much room for IRA or 401(k) contributions, it's time to rethink your spending. Spend some time combing through your budget and make changes that free up more money for retirement plan contributions. You may be surprised at how easy it is to eke out a little more savings.

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2. Cut back on a major expense

Chances are, housing eats up a lot of your income. Or maybe you're spending a ton of money on car payments every month. Cutting back on one major expense could make it easier to fund your IRA or 401(k) and help make up for lost time.

ALSO READ: Car Payments Are Still at Record Highs. Here's What You Can Do About It

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3. Trim a bunch of smaller expenses

Can't slash a big expense in your budget? Then focus your efforts on smaller expenses. Canceling cable, putting the brakes on takeout meals, and saying no to subscription boxes could all go a long way.

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Person walking six dogs.

4. Get a side job

It may be that your salary only gives you so much income to work with. If you're struggling to fund your retirement savings, consider a second job. The gig economy is booming these days, so there's plenty of opportunity to pick up a side hustle.

ALSO READ: 3 Little-Known Perks of Getting a Side Hustle

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A 401k statement showing a match.

5. Find a job where your employer offers 401(k) matches as a benefit

Getting free cash for your 401(k) might help you catch up on savings and avoid a financial shortfall once your career wraps up. If you've been looking to switch jobs, try finding a new role that comes with a 401(k) match. And then put in enough money to claim that match in full.

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6. Consolidate your debt to make it cheaper

Want to give your nest egg a nice boost? Then stop throwing away money on interest. The less you spend on your debt, the more money you'll have available for your IRA or 401(k) plan. If you owe money on various credit cards, look at ways to consolidate that debt and make it less expensive to pay off.

ALSO READ: Dave Ramsey Says Debt Consolidation Doesn't Solve Anything. Is He Right?

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Person receiving a paycheck.

7. Bank your next raise

You may be due for a raise in the near term. Since that's money you're not used to living on, why not allocate all of it to your savings? That way, you can boost your nest egg without feeling deprived.

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An envelope reading Bonus being passed from one hand to another.

8. Save your year-end bonus

In line for a year-end bonus? That's a sum of cash that could work wonders for your retirement plan. And if that bonus is large enough, it may even be enough to max out your contributions for the year.

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Smiling person sitting at a desk.

9. Allocate other financial windfalls to retirement savings

You may end up receiving cash gifts, a tax refund, or other lump sums of money during the year. Those are windfalls that could all fund your retirement savings. And it's best to avoid the temptation to spend them.

ALSO READ: Still Waiting on a Tax Refund? The IRS May Owe You Interest

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10. Make catch-up contributions if you're eligible

Once you turn 50, you get the option to contribute extra funds to your retirement savings. It pays to take advantage of this option if you're currently behind -- though, to be clear, you don't need to be behind on savings to qualify for catch-up contributions. If you have an IRA, you can stick in an extra $1,000 as this year's catchup. With a 401(k), catchups can total up to $6,500.

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11. Invest more aggressively

One reason your nest egg may be falling short is that you aren't investing your savings aggressively enough. If you've been shying away from stocks, consider loading up while retirement is still fairly far off to give your nest egg a boost. And if you're hesitant to buy stocks individually, load up on index funds instead.

ALSO READ: How to Invest in Index Funds

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12. Plan on extending your career

The tricky thing about a smaller nest egg is that your money still needs to last a long time. But if you extend your career, you'll shorten that window. If, for example, your initial plan was to retire at age 65, retiring at age 70 instead could mean that your nest egg might only need to last 20 years instead of 25.

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13. Rethink your anticipated retirement lifestyle

If you're getting closer to retirement and are short on savings, you may only have so much time to catch up. If that's the case, you may need to rethink your retirement plans. That could mean downsizing to a smaller home or finding lower-cost ways to spend your days.

ALSO READ: How to Know When It's Time to Downsize Your Home

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Labeled moving boxes, house plants, and coffee mugs in a den.

14. Look into relocating as a retiree

There are some parts of the country where a limited nest egg is apt to go further than others. It could pay to plan to relocate if you're short on funds and don't think you'll manage to catch up in time. And who knows? You may find that you're thrilled with your new location once you settle in.

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Person wearing apron standing next to shelves of apparel in a store.

15. Set yourself up for part-time work in retirement

Some people want nothing more than to retire from their careers and never work again. But if you're short on savings, getting a part-time job may be necessary. The good news, though, is that jobs have gotten increasingly flexible in the wake of the pandemic. And since the gig economy is strong, you may be able to find part-time work you can do at your own convenience.

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Do your best to catch up

The more savings you bring with you into retirement, the more financial stability you'll get to enjoy. If your nest egg isn't up to snuff, do what you can to build it up. At the same time, consider making adjustments to your plans if boosting your cash reserves significantly isn't something you think you'll be able to do.

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