Set up your savings to get you to your goal
Now is the time to make sure your savings are working as hard as possible for you.
You're almost there! Save as much as you can
Like a marathoner hitting the final stretch, now is the time to give your retirement savings all you've got.
Uncle Sam will make this easier for you after age 50, when you're eligible to make catch-up contributions to employer-sponsored plans and IRAs. (For the 2016 and 2017 tax years, you can contribute up to $6,500 to IRAs; for 401(k) and 403(b) plans, up to $24,000, if your plan allows catch-up contributions.)
If you're able, this is also the time to begin maxing out your employer plan. You can save up to $18,000 (plus any catch-up contribution) in a 401(k) or 403(b).
Sacrificing now to save more could pay off big in the long run. If you can save an extra $10,000 a year for the next 10 years, your balance could be about $140,000 higher when you retire.
Ramping up contributions in the next 10 years will make a big difference
This hypothetical illustration assumes an annual 6% return as well as annual contributions of $5,000 for 40 years (potentially increasing to $15,000 for the final 10 years). The illustration doesn't represent any particular investment, nor does it account for inflation.
Good to know!
Over 90% of the retirement plans covered in our recent report offer catch-up contributions.
Source: Vanguard, How America Saves 2014. This study examined employer retirement plans (and their participants) managed by Vanguard.
Make sure your investments align with your goal
Do you know all the investments you own and how they fit together?
It's an important consideration no matter what age you are or how long you've been saving, but your asset mix becomes even more critical when you're only a few years from retirement.
It might be relatively easy to see what your allocation is for each account—by looking at your statement or checking your accounts online—but you'll need to get a picture of your total retirement savings in order to know whether you have an appropriate asset mix overall.
And remember that the asset mix you settled on years ago might not be the best mix for you anymore. For example, you may want to consider moving some stock assets into bonds, to cushion your portfolio from volatility.
Keep in mind:
Moving your assets can make your planning easier
Moving your retirement money to one place lets you view your savings all together, so it's easier to see how to get where you're going. And it could have other benefits, like lowering your investment costs and qualifying you for more personal attention, too.
Benefit from expert advice
This is the most critical time in your retirement planning. Think about whether you could use a partner.
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WHERE DOES RETIREMENT FIT INTO YOUR PRIORITIES?
The yearly, monthly, or weekly amounts you save in your account.
This chart shows that if you increase your contributions during the 10 years before you retire, you can have a much higher balance at retirement. For example, if you contribute $5,000 a year, you might have about $490,000 at retirement. On the other hand, if you contribute $15,000 a year for the last 10 years before retirement, you could have about $630,000 at retirement.
The way your account is divided among different asset classes, including stock, bond, and short-term or "cash" investments.
A complete view of all the money in your account—i.e., not specific investments.
The movement of money from a traditional IRA or 401(k) to a Roth IRA, essentially changing tax-deferred assets into tax-free assets. When you convert assets, you'll pay income taxes on the amount you convert. After the conversion, withdrawals from the Roth IRA will be tax-free as long as you meet the requirements.
A type of IRA that allows you to make after-tax contributions (so you don't get an immediate tax deduction) and then withdraw money in retirement tax-free as long as you meet the requirements.