How to Keep Your Retirement Savings on Track

The United States is, apparently, on the road to a retirement crisis. Issues like retirement income inadequacy, poor access to retirement savings, and risk and complexity of retirements plans are some of the culprits. The crisis is about to happen at a time when the largest generation of people living in the United States, the Baby Boomers, are retiring at a rate of around 10,000 per day.

What does this mean for you and your retirement plan? It might not mean anything. You could be on your way to a comfortable old age with a solid retirement plan. Or you can be like a third of your fellow Americans and have absolutely nothing saved for your retirement. Most likely you are somewhere in between, which means that you should put in some extra effort to ensure your retirement savings are on track.

Understand How Much Money You’ll Need

Whether you are aware of it or not, you can easily become a victim of a certain kind of bubble that will have adverse effects on your retirement funds. This type of bubble has nothing to do with any financial tools. It will simply make you believe, based on what you hear or read, that a certain amount of money will be enough for your retirement.

The major task you must do when putting your savings back on track is to figure out how much money you will really need. That’s not the same as reading what this pundit said or looking at what that colleague is doing. You need to consider your own circumstances and plan for some of the worst things that can happen in the future. Then, based on the number you get, you can calculate how much money you need to set aside every year to reach your goal. Retirement savings are a plan. You can’t have a plan without planning, and you can’t do any planning without an analysis.

Getting to the Place Where You Can Contribute

If you want to save money for your retirement, you need to have several parallel savings plans. At the very least, you need to have two: an IRA or 401(k), and an emergency fund. That’s on top of your social security taxes.

The reason why you need to have both types of savings is simple. If you have a financial emergency and you can’t find the money to cover it, you will be tempted to take a loan on your 401(k) or borrow from your IRA. Borrowing from those funds isn’t the same as opening a line of credit. You will probably be barred from contributing to your 401(k) until you pay off the loan. If you fail to replenish your IRA within 60 days, you will have to pay taxes on the money you took, and you will not be able to put it back. So, keep an emergency fund you can dip in when it’s absolutely needed. If you already borrowed from your retirement savings, repay the money as soon as possible.

Rein in Your Spending

Many retirement savings accounts work best when you max out your contributions. For many people, putting extra money aside for retirement doesn’t come lightly. Generally, you can achieve it by either making more money or spending less of the money you already earn.

It’s never fun to cut expenses, but most of us have things we can stop paying for without losing any comfort. Maybe dine out less, buy fewer clothing items, save some money on your car insurance and maintenance. You should understand what your top-priority expenditures are, and then choose where you can remove some expenses from the rest.

Finally, you should remember that your retirement savings plan can and should be adjusted over time. As your circumstances change, you might find that you need more money or less than you planned in the first place. Until that happens, however, you can automate your retirement savings to make sure you contribute the right amount of money every month.