12 Crucial Steps When You Have Nothing Saved For Retirement

Saving for retirement can feel like pushing a big boulder up an extremely steep hill. This feeling becomes even clearer as retirement approaches.

You’re not alone. Many Americans say they have nothing saved for retirement and are desperate for ways to increase their bank accounts.

Whether you were unemployed, didn’t have access to a retirement plan, or just need to catch up, there are 12 steps you can take if you haven’t saved for retirement.

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1. Get a snapshot of your current money picture

Life can come at you fast, and that means it can be difficult to see how much money you really have at all times.

Schedule real time on your calendar each week to check how much is coming in and how much is going out of your household. What’s next in terms of spending?

Sometimes an emergency can be avoided by taking care of maintenance before problems get worse.

2. Tighten your budget

While you can absolutely treat yourself to a night on the town, you might be surprised at how quickly that can add up over the course of a week, month, or year.

If a night out at your favorite restaurant costs $50, five nights a month costs $250 that could be diverted to your retirement account.

3. Cut out high-interest debt

If you haven’t saved anything for retirement, chances are you have some high-interest debt clogging the retirement pipes.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s most recent survey, Americans pay over $120 billion in credit card interest and fees per year between 2018 and 2020. Ouch.

You may know the monthly payments for all of your credit cards, but do you also know their interest rates? Take some time to check your credit card interest rates. Then look for creative ways to pay off your debt once and for all.

4. Don’t overlook bonuses

A bonus from work feels like an invitation to finally remove these fun items from your Amazon Save for Later list. But since the bonus is essentially money you don’t already have, you can’t miss it if you retire it.

Whether it’s a year-end bonus or a bonus that comes out every quarter, send it to your retirement account so it can grow over time.

5. Check achievements at work

If your employer is willing to double your pension contributions, that’s the best free money you could ask for.

Not sure what your benefits are? Your job most likely has an HR portal where you can view company-wide benefits, including retirement benefits. They most likely don’t match Everyone Your contributions, but every penny helps.

6. Use promotions for your retirement

Promotions often come with a raise, which is another form of unexpected money. For once, the plot twist is on your side.

You can add extra money to your retirement account without impacting your quality of life. If you want to pinch a little more, you can do so without it hurting too much over time.

7. Use round-up apps to increase savings

Apps like Acorns, Guac, Digit, and Betterment all have one thing in common: They capture money that would otherwise be lost just by shopping. When you swipe your debit card, you might as well swipe your debit card on purpose.

While the money still has a few hops to make to get into your retirement account, these rounding-up apps still help you save where you’d otherwise just spend the money.

Pro tip: Check out this list of the best investing apps to build your savings with rounding up.

8. Let the family help fund the retirement accounts

Did you know that you can accept cash gifts and apply them to your Roth IRA (admittedly, you still have to meet the usual requirements)? Sure, not everyone has a family willing to help, but if your family is interested in helping, there’s no harm in asking.

Having intimate conversations about money with family members can be uncomfortable for some people. But risking a few awkward moments is better than sitting up at night worrying about your pension.

9. Lean into a side hustle

If you’re looking to put money into retirement, you may need to take a part-time or outside job to raise the money for your 401(k) funding. This could look like Uber, DoorDash, or any of those legitimate ways to make extra money.

Imagine how you can help other people and you might find that you can put the money you earn on the side into retirement.

10. Let the robots make retirement easier

By automating your savings and retirement, you can ensure your money is working for you first and spending later. You can set up automatic pension contributions if you have a 401(k) at work, but you might be able to set them up with an IRA as well.

11. Open an IRA

It is possible to contribute to both an IRA and a 401(k). The IRS allows taxpayers to use both retirement accounts, although there are rules to follow. There is a difference between being able to make contributions and being able to deduct those contributions on your tax return.

12. Be aggressive with your portfolio

A common mistake many 40- and 50-year-olds make when trying to catch up with their retirement savings is to play it safe. Conservative portfolios focus on preserving money when the focus must be primarily on making money.

An ideal portfolio prioritizes growth, and that means stocks. Bonds are great for saving money, but stocks offer the best returns.

bottom line

It’s natural to feel frustration, guilt, and sadness when you haven’t saved anything for retirement. But if you focus on what you can control, you’ll find you have more options than you thought and take away your money worries.

Get creative. Start seeing your world in both what you make and what you can save. The more you search for retirement solutions, the more money will flow to you.

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This article, 12 Crucial Steps When You Have Nothing Saved for Retirement, originally appeared on FinanceBuzz.

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