It's no secret that Americans on a whole are mostly unprepared for retirement — but sadly, that includes those who are pretty close to reaching that stage. A recent survey by Comet found that more than 40% of baby boomers have no money in a retirement plan like an IRA or 401(k). Now that doesn't mean these same folks have absolutely no assets to tap. Many own homes, for instance, that can serve as a source of equity later in life. But the fact of the matter remains: A good 50% of near-retirees are way behind from a savings standpoint. And if you're one of them, it's time to ramp up immediately.
The good news, however, is that believe it or not, you can actually still end up retiring a millionaire, even if you have no money set aside at all by the time you turn 50. You just need to commit to working longer, maxing out your retirement plan, and investing your savings wisely.
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How to salvage your retirement
Let's be clear: Without independent savings, there's a good chance you'll struggle financially as a senior. That's because the income you receive from Social Security won't be enough to cover your bills. In fact, it won't even come close. In a good-case scenario, it might pay for about half of your expenses, leaving you on the hook for the rest. And that's where your savings come in.
So how do you go from $0 in savings to a sizable nest egg? You'll need to do three things. The first is commit to working longer, which, incidentally, isn't just good for your savings, but potentially good for your health. If your original plan was to retire in your mid-60s, aim to keep plugging away until 70 or later. This will accomplish a couple of goals — giving you extra years to sock away money, and helping you grow your Social Security benefits so you get the maximum monthly payout possible.
The next thing you'll need to do is commit to maxing out your retirement plan for the remainder of your career. Now if you're dealing with an IRA, that means setting $6,500 aside per year. If you're lucky enough to have a 401(k), however, it means saving $24,500 a year. (Both of these figures assume you're age 50 or older; the annual contributions limits for both account types are lower for younger workers.) Now to free up that amount of cash, you'll need to take a hard look at your budget and start cutting expenses. But if you make that sacrifice now, you'll reap the benefits in retirement.