It is easy to put off thinking about retirement savings at 55, while you are raising your children. You are busy every waking hour, running them around from one activity to the next, keeping up with the laundry, their homework, your day job and putting meals on the table. Besides, with children in the house, it is hard enough to make it from one paycheck to another, so there is no money left over to save.
One day it hits you that retirement is around the corner, and you do not have a nest egg for retirement. Social Security will not even pay your mortgage. You will never be able to quit that job you hate. Do not despair. Here is Suze Orman’s advice if you are 55 with no retirement savings.
Shift Your Focus
Up until now, your children have been your highest priority, and rightly so. You have spent the last couple of decades providing for their every need. If they are in college or on their way there, Suze has some tough advice for you. Do not take out any loans or use your home equity to pay for their college costs.
This guidance is more palatable, when you realize that your children might have to help you financially if you do not prepare adequately for your golden years. Do not assume that you can keep working forever to pay your bills. Most older workers have to stop working against their will, because of health reasons or employer decisions.
Work Past Your Full Retirement Age
People who retire at the earliest possible age to collect Social Security, 62, take a hit every month on their Social Security retirement benefits. For those born in or after 1960, you can increase your monthly check by around 70 percent by continuing to work, until you are 70.
While working a few years past your full retirement age (which is around 67) might sound onerous, the increase in your monthly benefits could be enough for you to retire without having to work a part-time job. Just imagine what a difference it would make now if you got a raise of 70 percent.
Grab the Free Money
If your job offers a 401(k) or 403(b) or another retirement plan with a matching contribution, that matching contribution is free money. Make sure that you contribute at least enough to your account every month to get the maximum employer match. Your contributions are also pre-tax, so they lower your taxable income, thereby reducing your income taxes. You can probably afford to contribute more to your plan than you think.
Slash Your Spending
Sit down and make a hard, cold assessment of how you spend money. Dinner at a restaurant or a pedicure now is money that you are not saving for retirement. List your needs and your wants in two columns. Add up the cost of the “wants” to see how much more you can and should be saving in a Roth IRA or other tax-advantaged account.
Balance Investment Growth and Security
As you get older, you need to be more conservative with the investments in your retirement accounts. However, some of the money should be in stocks for growth. Just make sure that you have a large portion of your assets in conservative investments, so stock market fluctuations will not wipe out your nest egg.
AARP. “Help! I’m 55 and Have No Nest Egg.” (accessed May 8, 2019)