It’s Never Too Late: Retirement Planning after 50

The youngest of the Baby Boomers are celebrating their 50th birthdays this year and many are realizing that they have very little (if anything) set aside for retirement. Social Security is likely to still be there in 15-20 years, but in order for the system to remain solvent, it will require continual tweaking in the form of increasing the retirement age and/or reducing benefits. This means that if you plan on living solely off of your Social Security payments, you are headed for a meager existence. Retirement Plan

The good news for Boomers turning 50 is you still have a decade and a half to get something together. The bad news is that you have lost two to three decades of compound interest on savings/investments that could have worked in your favor. It is never too late to plan for retirement, but at this stage, you need to be willing to do some belt-tightening and make some sacrifices to get caught up.

Here are some tips for those over 50 to get you pointed in the right direction:

Start Saving Now: It is true that interest on savings accounts today is almost non-existent, but you are still far better off getting something started than having nothing at all. Even before deciding how you want to invest the money, open a separate savings account and start tucking some away. The best strategy is to open an account at a completely separate financial institution without an ATM card so it is difficult to withdraw the money. If possible, make this process automated by having a certain amount taken out of your paycheck every month.

Maximize your IRA/401K Contributions: Along with a savings account, you should have an IRA or 401K that you are contributing to. If your employer offers a 401K and you are not contributing to it, the time to start is now. For 401K plans, individuals are allowed to contribute up to $17,500 for tax year 2014. However, those over 50 are allowed to contribute up to $23,000. The IRS is not nearly as generous with IRAs; you are allowed to contribute $5500 to an IRA and $6500 if you are over 50. Remember that you have the option to make your 401K or IRA contributions pre-tax. This will reduce your tax liability by roughly 20% of the amount you contribute (depending on your tax bracket). For example, if you contribute $5000 to your IRA, your taxes (on average) will be reduced by about $1,000.

Start a Sideline Business: A growing number of Americans are starting home businesses these days. Not only could a side business bring in an extra source of income, it can also open you up to numerous tax deductions you can take advantage of. These deductions can help further reduce your tax liability and increase the amount of money you have available to contribute to an IRA or 401K. If you decide to go this route, consult your local accounting firm that can help you organize your taxes and maximize your deductions. It may cost you some to hire an accountant, but the tax savings you will realize will likely more than pay for the fees they will charge.

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