You may have big plans for your money in 2023, like saving to buy a home or take a dream vacation. But ideally, you’ll also be making plans to set aside some of your income for retirement savings purposes.
Once you retire, you’ll need a decent amount of money to live comfortably. While the benefits you get from Social Security should help, they may not be adequate on their own.
That’s why it’s so important to save well for your senior years. And if you’re going to be funding a retirement plan this year, it pays to keep these points in mind.
1. Snag your full employer 401(k) match
Not everyone has access to a 401(k) plan or one with an employer-matching incentive. But if your employer is willing to give you free money for retirement, take it. Better yet, take all of it.
Find out what your complete match entails and do what you need to do to snag it. That could mean cutting leisure spending or picking up a second job to make a high-enough contribution to claim your match in full, but it’ll be more than worth it. After all, opportunities to grab free money are pretty rare in life, so you might as well make the most of this one.
2. Don’t overpay for investments
The investment choices you make could dictate the pace at which your retirement savings grow. But it’s important to choose investments that are likely to generate the returns you’re after and aren’t overly expensive.
Actively managed mutual funds, for example, tend to come with higher expense ratios that can eat away at your returns over time. If you’re looking for a way to invest your retirement savings, a better bet may be to stick to lower-cost index funds.
Index funds are passively managed and aim only to match the performance of the benchmarks to which they’re tied. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Index funds commonly outperform their actively managed counterparts at a fraction of the cost to you, so it’s worth focusing on them to minimize your fees.
3. Spread your money across different accounts
There’s no rule stating that you must stick to just a 401(k) plan or just an IRA in the course of saving for retirement. Putting your money into different savings plans could work to your benefit.
Let’s say your employer will match your first $3,000 in 401(k) contributions this year. It makes sense to put in that $3,000, even if you’re not thrilled with your plan. But beyond that, put your remaining savings dollars elsewhere.
If you’re able to contribute $5,000 toward retirement this year, once you’ve put your $3,000 into your 401(k) to get your full match, put the remaining $2,000 into an IRA, where you’re apt to get far more investing choices — like the option to buy individual stocks. You may even decide to put that $2,000 into a health savings account you earmark for retirement. But either way, don’t feel compelled to stick to a single account.
The more you save for retirement this year, the more financial security you can buy yourself down the line. Use these tips to take your savings efforts to the next level — and help ensure that you close out the year without financial regrets.