Retirement planning is crucial, but it’s never too late to take steps to increase your savings. With the right strategy, it is possible to grow your nest egg up to 10 times the original amount in 20 years. Here is a detailed guide on how to make it happen.
Take Advantage of Compound Interest
The most powerful tool for retirement savings growth is compound interest. This is when the interest earned on your deposits gets added back to the principal, so that interest also earns interest over time.
For example, if you invest $10,000 at a 7% annual return, in the first year you will earn $700 in interest. In the second year, your balance will be $10,700 so you earn interest on this higher amount. Over 20 years at this rate, your balance will grow to over $38,000 even if you don’t add another penny.
The key is to start investing as early as possible and add to your savings regularly. Even small, consistent contributions can grow exponentially over long time periods.
Max Out Retirement Account Contributions
For 2023, the contribution limit for 401(k) plans is $22,500 for those under age 50. For IRAs, the limit is $6,500. Try to contribute the maximum to tax-advantaged retirement accounts every year.
This serves two purposes. First, it builds your retirement savings faster. Second, contributing pre-tax or tax-deferred money reduces your taxable income now so you also save on taxes.
If your employer offers matching contributions, be sure to contribute enough to get the full match. This is essentially free money towards your retirement.
Invest More Aggressively While Younger
When you have a long investing time horizon, you can afford to take more risk in your portfolio. Investing more heavily in stocks while younger can provide higher returns to supercharge your savings.
As you near retirement age, gradually shift to more conservative investments like bonds to preserve capital. But in your 20s, 30s or 40s, you have time to ride out any market fluctuations.
Aim to invest at least 80-90% in stocks until 10-15 years from your target retirement date. Spread money across a globally diversified portfolio including U.S. and international stocks.
Reinvest Dividends and Earnings
Many investments generate dividends from company profits or earnings from interest. You can accelerate your savings by choosing to reinvest these amounts.
For example, mutual funds and ETFs let you use dividends to purchase additional shares. Over time, reinvesting compounds your holdings so you own more shares generating more dividends.
Some 401(k) plans also have a reinvestment option. Be sure to select this to keep your money actively working for you.
Harness the Power of Dollar Cost Averaging
Dollar cost averaging means investing a fixed dollar amount on a regular schedule, regardless of share prices. When shares are cheaper, your fixed contribution buys more shares. When prices are higher, you buy less. Over time, this can lower your average per share cost.
By dollar cost averaging into investments like mutual funds, you take the emotion out of investing. You don’t have to worry about buying at the “right” time. Consistent contributions at regular intervals over many years is an effective way to grow your nest egg.
Find Other Sources for Investing
If you reach the contribution limits for tax-advantaged retirement accounts, look for other places to invest. Taxable brokerage accounts do not receive the same tax perks, but they offer flexibility to withdraw money as needed.
Consider investing in real estate by purchasing rental property. Appreciation over time can grow your net worth. You can also invest in a business venture or earn passive income through royalties, licenses or content creation.
The more money you can set aside for investing, the faster your retirement savings will accumulate.
Review Asset Allocation and Rebalance When Needed
Over time, market performance will shift the underlying asset allocation of your portfolio. Rebalancing brings your investments back to your target allocations.
Rebalancing forces you to sell high and buy low. Over time, this improves returns while managing risk according to your risk tolerance.
Review your portfolio allocation at least once a year. Rebalance back to your target by selling assets in overweight categories and directing the proceeds into underweight assets.
Avoid Cashing Out Retirement Savings
One of the biggest setbacks to a retirement nest egg is cashing out instead of leaving the money invested.
When changing jobs, roll over your old 401(k) to your new employer or to an IRA. Avoid taking a lump sum distribution, which is taxed as income and also incurs a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you are under age 59.5.
If absolutely needed, take a 401(k) loan rather than fully cashing out. Borrowed money can be repaid so you do not permanently deplete savings. However, strive to avoid any withdrawals so your money continues growing.
Seek Guidance from a Financial Advisor
As your assets grow, your financial situation may become more complex. An advisor can provide guidance to keep your retirement strategy on track.
A financial advisor can help with things like:
- Recommending investments suited to your goals, timeline and risk tolerance
- Monitoring portfolio performance and rebalancing
- Adjusting your strategy closer to retirement
- Ensuring your savings stay on pace for retirement income needs
- Providing impartial advice instead of emotionally-driven decisions
Seek a fee-only fiduciary advisor who is legally required to put your best interests first.
The Earlier You Start, the Better
The key takeaway is that time is your most valuable asset when saving for retirement. Starting early, consistently contributing, and letting compounding work over decades are the ingredients for growing your nest egg tenfold.
Use the above tips to maximize your savings, invest appropriately for your timeline, and avoid financial pitfalls. With discipline and proper strategy, you can achieve your goal of a comfortable, financially secure retirement.