It is important to save as much as you can—the money you save now still has time to work for you. For 401(k) plans and IRAs, if you are 50 or older, you may be able to take advantage of catch-up opportunities to potentially increase your retirement income.
If you have a 401(k) plan then max it out! Defer up to $17,500 in annual pre-tax contributions, plus $5,500 in catch-up contributions for those over age 50.
The responsibility for maximizing the potential benefits of your 401(k) plan falls on your shoulders.
If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, you should participate in the plan. The math is simple: if you don't put anything into it, you won't get anything out of it. Once you've made up your mind to get started, don't procrastinate.
- Take the Company Match
Invest as much as you can afford, but no less than the amount required to receive the full company match. The company match is free money. Think of it as an instant return on your investment!
Proper asset allocation and diversification are responsible for the majority of investment returns. Asset Allocation is an investment strategy that aims to balance risk and reward by apportioning a portfolio's assets according to an individual's goals, risk tolerance and investment horizon. The three main asset classes - equities, fixed-income, and cash and equivalents - have different levels of risk and return, so each will behave differently over time. Diversification is a risk management technique that mixes a wide variety of investments within a portfolio. The rationale behind this technique contends that a portfolio of different kinds of investments will, on average, yield higher returns and pose a lower risk than any individual investment found within the portfolio.
Once your portfolio is in place, monitor its performance, and rebalance when necessary. Rebalancing means bringing a portfolio that has deviated away from the target asset allocation back into line. Under-weighted securities are purchased with newly saved money, or alternatively, over-weighted securities can be sold to purchase under-weighted securities.
- If you change jobs, take it with you!
Transfer your account to your new employer or roll over to an IRA (Individual Retirement Account) when you change jobs. Rolling your retirement funds into an IRA will give you more investment choices and options. If possible, avoid taking as a distribution which would incur a penalty (if under 59 ½) and income tax.
- Open an IRA to expand your savings potential,
With up to $5,500 in annual potential tax deductible contributions, plus $1,000 in catch-up contributions for those over age 50.
- Invest in a tax-deferred annuity
with no IRS contribution limits and let your investment grow tax-deferred.