For too many people, the time to start saving for retirement never seems to come. There is always one more competing priority. “Maybe when I get the promotion.” “Maybe when I get the bonus.” “Maybe after we buy that dream home.” “Maybe after the kids are grown.” “I just don’t know enough about Self-Directed IRAs yet” (that’s where we come in!)Even for Self-Directed IRA owners, who tend to be more affluent than most, too many seem to put off making serious contributions until later in life – leaving a lot of money on the table or forfeiting it needlessly to the Internal Revenue Service.
And then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, they are staring retirement in the face and they have nothing saved up for it.
In a recent survey by TIAA-CREF, over half of today’s near-retirees surveyed wish, with the benefit of hindsight, that they had started saving for retirement earlier. Furthermore, 47 percent wish they had saved more of their paycheck. And fully a third, 34 percent, wish they had saved for retirement more aggressively.
(Interestingly, TIAA-CREF’s report didn’t spell out the number of surveyed near retirees who had been less aggressive, but that’s a different conversation.
The numbers come from the mutual fund and pension giant’s 2014 Ready To Retire Survey, which polled a sample of 1,000 adults nationwide about their workplace retirement plans and how they used them.
The results are dismaying: 65 percent of those surveyed report they did not take advantage of saving in an IRA. Only 35 percent ever met with a financial advisor, and only 32 percent reported going through a process assessing their expected retirement income and how much they would likely have to save in order to reach their income goals in retirement.
Despite the lack of preparation in retirement planning, these people aren’t exactly resting easy about their prospects, either.
- 45 percent worry about running out of money in retirement.
- 42 percent worry about declines in their physical health.
- 35 percent worry about the impact of health care costs on their retirement savings.
- 32 percent worry about how inflation may eat away at their purchasing power over time.
Nevertheless, 42 percent report they plan to work part time in retirement. That means 58 percent aren’t planning to work part time, which still leaves a big gap between those who aren’t planning on continuing to work in retirement and those who have actually planned for the loss of income from work!
What to do
The good news is, it’s never too early to prepare for retirement, and if you’re still working, it’s not too late to take steps to save. The tax code is there to encourage retirement saving. And with recent tax increases taking effect last year, the incentives to save money within tax-advantaged retirement accounts are even greater, no matter what your income level is.
Here’s what you can do:
Roll back on expenses. Cook at home more, rather than eating out. Take your vacation at home this year. Become more spending conscious. Cancel needless subscriptions and eliminate impulse buying. A few months of doing that will give you some money to invest right from the get go.
Live on less than you make. If you can do this, you can succeed. If you cannot do this – and you’re not already extremely wealthy through no fault of your own,
Start reading great books that get you thinking about money, and how to make it your master, rather than your servant. Some of our favorites for new investors and people focused on budgeting and getting out of debt include:
The Millionaire Next Door – By Thomas Stanley and William Danko
Generation Debt – By Anya Kamanetz
Credit Card Nation – by Robert D. Manning
Total Money Makeover – by Dave Ramsey
The Richest Man in Babylon – By George Clason
Think and Grow Rich – By Napoleon Hill
For you folks who’ve been at it a while, and who have had a few successful investments under your belt already, we recommend these two by the great Benjamin Graham:
Security Analysis – By Benjamin Graham and David Dodd
The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham
A Random Walk Down Wall Street – By Burton Malkiel
Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits – Kenneth Fisher
Irrational Exuberance – By Thomas Shiller
Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk – by Peter Bernstein
Think, Act and Invest Like Warren Buffett – by Larry Swedroe
Tools & Techniques of Investment Planning – by Stephan Leimberg
Meet with an advisor. If you’re just starting out, almost any trained and experienced advisor can help you identify the basic steps you can be taking, whether it’s by starting or contributing to an IRA, Roth IRA or making better use of your 401(k). For most people, it’s far more important to build the habit of saving and investing now rather than wait until you have the perfect advisor with access to all the perfect products on the market. Such advisors don’t exist, anyway.
Consider a Self-Directed IRA
A Self-Directed IRA allows you to invest in a wider variety of assets than you can get in an off-the-shelf IRA from an investment company. Think of it: Your stockbroker doesn’t get a commission if you choose to own a house within your IRA. So you’re unlikely to hear much about the option from them. But the fact is you can own an immense variety of asset classes within a Self-Directed IRA, from leveraged real estate to precious metals to private equity and beyond.
Regardless of your level of sophistication as an investor, however, the important thing is to start your road to retirement prosperity now. The laws are such that if you don’t take advantage of a tax-advantaged account for a given year, you can’t turn back the clock, and you can’t make retroactive contributions. If you let a year-end deadline for a 401(k) contribution or an April 15th deadline for an IRA contribution pass, that opportunity is gone forever.
Carpe Diem is the order of the day!
If you’re a mature and seasoned investor, and you want to achieve greater potential returns, or greater diversification than you thought possible within your retirement funds, give us a call today at 866-7500-IRA (472), or visit us online at www.americanira.com. From there, you can read our vast resource library of articles and blog posts, or download our seven exclusive guides to self-directed retirement account investing.
We look forward to working with you!
Image by: presentermedia.com