A hefty retirement nest egg is essential to a secure future. Unfortunately, far too many people simply don’t end up with enough invested to support themselves after paychecks stop coming.
The good news is, if you’re behind on retirement savings, you don’t have to resign yourself to a life full of financial worry in your later years. There are steps you can take to turn things around. To help you get started, three Motley Fool retirement experts share how they’d fix a shortfall and get back on track if they’d saved too little. You can put these tips into practice and hopefully catch up so you’ll have plenty of money put aside by the time you become a senior.
Double-check my investing strategy
Katie Brockman: Finding enough cash to save for retirement is crucial, but it’s just as important to make sure your money is working hard enough for you. If I were behind on my retirement savings, I would double-check that I’m investing aggressively enough. The returns you earn on your investments will depend on where, exactly, you’re investing. Many people invest conservatively, thinking that’s the safest option. In fact, 53% of Americans keep at least a portion of their retirement savings in a savings account, according to a survey conducted by the Certified Financial Planner Board and Morning Consult. The problem with investing conservatively is that you’ll see lower returns than if you invest more aggressively. The S&P 500, for example, earns an average 10% annual return. Bonds and other conservative investments, however, typically see returns of around 4% to 5% per year. Savings accounts are the least effective for long-term savings, as they generally have interest rates of just 1% per year or less.
That may not sound like a significant difference, but it adds up over time. Say, for instance, you’re saving $200 per month in your retirement fund. If you’re earning a 1% annual return, you’d have around $83,000 saved after 30 years. With a 5% annual return, you’d have around $159,000 saved in that time period. But if you were earning a 10% annual return, you’d have roughly $395,000 socked away.
Investing aggressively doesn’t have to be risky, either. If you’re aiming to maximize your returns while minimizing risk, one fantastic option is to invest in an S&P 500 index fund. An index fund is a collection of stocks or bonds grouped together into a single investment. By investing in an S&P 500 index fund, you’ll be investing in all 500 companies that make up the index — which are some of the largest and most successful companies in the country.