A 50-Something’s Guide to Starting to Save for Retirement

A 50-Something’s Guide to Starting to Save for Retirement  Dr. Don Taylor
of Bankrate recently answered a reader inquiry about where people in their 50s should start if they have yet to get serious about saving for retirement.

His strategy was pretty clear: “Jump in with both feet. Save until it hurts.”

He noted that, at this age, you’re around 15 years (or less) away from no longer working. One of the benefits about starting to save for retirement at, say, age 25 is that you get to take advantage of compounding interest rates over a longer period of time – an advantage you don’t get when you’re over 50 and are just starting to save.

So where exactly do you start? Taylor suggests building a portfolio of both stocks and bonds. In the end, you may find it’s best to create a portfolio that includes a variety of investments, some that are more aggressive, and others that are more stable.

Taylor notes that this shorter time frame means you need to have a smart strategy for moving forward. So if you’re having trouble deciding where to put your savings, he suggests talking to a financial professional who can help you figure out your game plan.

For those looking for hard numbers, Forbes has a handy chart that shows people of all ages how much they need to save if they are just starting to fund their retirement. For instance, if you’re starting to save at 30, it calculates that you need to put away 21.4 percent of your current income in order to have a comfortable retirement at age 65.

As you can probably guess, those getting a later start have to save more. If you’re starting to save at 50, Forbes calculates that you need to save an amount equal to whatever you hope to live on each year of your retirement in order to retire at age 65.

They use the example of a 50-year-old making $100,000. He or she should put in $50,000 (or half of their current annual salary) if they want to retire at 65 and have roughly that amount to spend each year of their retirement. Yes, this may require an immediate change in lifestyle, but it’s a small price to pay for a manageable retirement. They also note that while Social Security will give you a bit of a financial bump during those later years, you shouldn’t rely solely on it.

So while it may feel overwhelming to only have 15 years or so to save for retirement, don’t fret. Just create a game plan and, like Taylor says, jump in with both feet.

Did you or someone you know get a late start on saving for retirement? What strategy was used to make up for lost time?

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