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- A comfortable retirement is built on years of consistent saving, investing, and planning.
- If you’re aiming to quit work in 10 years, giving attention to a few specific areas can make post-retirement life that much easier.
- After calculating how much you’ll need to retire comfortably, consider maxing out retirement accounts, paying off high-interest debt, exploring healthcare options, checking on investment risk, figuring out if you want to downsize, and prioritizing retirement savings over supporting adult children.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
Not many people can decide to quit their job and retire the next day. A comfortable retirement is built on years of consistent saving, investing, and planning.
Often the smallest decisions — like deciding to contribute to a 401(k) at your first job — can make the biggest impact in retirement. But once you reach your 50s, focusing on a few specific areas can make post-retirement life that much easier.
Here are seven things to consider now if you’re aiming to retire in 10 years.
1. Calculating how much you need to retire
If you haven’t already run a calculation to figure out how much money you need to retire, do it now — and again, and again. Your idea of a comfortable retirement may evolve over the years, so taking stock every so often and accounting for new or expected expenses is crucial.
You can use a calculator like NerdWallet’s or SmartAsset’s — which account for inflation and periodic salary increases — to find out whether your currently monthly savings and investments will be enough to cover your golden years. Be sure to periodically check up on how much you can expect to get from Social Security, too.
2. Maxing out tax-advantaged retirement accounts
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Experts agree that one of the easiest and most beneficial strategies for saving for retirement is maxing out a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA) — the tax advantages are often unparalleled. In 2019, you can elect to contribute a percentage or dollar amount of your pretax salary to a 401(k) if your company offers it, up to $19,000, or $25,000 if you’re over 50.
The pretax dollars funneled into a 401(k) not only grow exponentially but also reduce the contributor’s taxable income by that amount. Plus, some companies offer to match contributions up to a certain percentage of the employee’s elected amount.
According to one study on dual-income couples with access to a 401(k) plan at work, saving is often relegated to one spouse, and that person usually isn’t saving enough for both people. In couples where both spouses are saving, the combined contribution rate is just 9.3% of total household income.
The bottom line: There’s no harm in reassessing your savings rate to ensure you’re getting the best possible benefits.
3. Paying off lingering high-interest debt
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Approaching retirement with high-interest debt from credit cards or consumer loans could wreak havoc on your savings and make it hard to plan for future expenses.
Ryan Cole, a certified financial planner and private wealth adviser at Citrine Capital in San Francisco, previously told Business Insider that if your debt carries an interest rate of 9% or higher, you should pause your retirement savings to stamp out the debt. What you end up saving in interest payments is often greater than what you’d earn in a savings account or the stock market, he said.
However, Cole said, there’s one exception: If your employer offers a company match to a retirement account, contribute at least the minimum in order to score the free money, and then put the rest of your savings toward paying off the debt.
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