A small increase in your savings rate can result in a big boost in your retirement nest egg.
If you save an extra $500 per year between ages 30 and 65 and earn a 7 percent annual return, you will have an extra $70,000 upon retirement. Most people can save an extra $500 for retirement, or just $10 per week, without making any significant sacrifices. Consider these painless ways to boost your retirement account balance.
Increase your 401(k) withholding by 1 percent
The contribution limit for 401(k) plans increased by $500 to $18,500 in 2018. So, now is a good time to reset your 401(k) withholding to put an extra $500 in your retirement account before the end of the year. A worker with a $50,000 annual salary would only have to increase his withholding by 1 percent to get an extra $500 in the account within a year. Some 401(k) plans have an automatic escalation feature that will increase your savings rate over time unless you opt out.
Put $10 per week in an IRA
You only need to save $10 per week to end up with an extra $500 by the end of the year. Consider setting up an automatic transfer from your checking account to an IRA. Saving $500 in a tax-deferred IRA will also reduce your tax bill. For workers in the 24 percent tax bracket, IRA contributions totaling $500 will save you $120 at tax time. Alternatively, you could put the money in an after-tax Roth IRA and set yourself up with tax-free investment growth and tax-free withdrawals in retirement.
Get a 401(k) match
A 401(k) match is one of the fastest and easiest ways to increase your retirement account balance. If your employer provides 50 cents for each dollar you contribute to the 401(k) plan, saving $1,000 will get you a $500 401(k) match. However, pay attention to your company’s vesting schedule to make sure you will be able to keep the match if you leave your job.
Take advantage of tax deductions
You can defer paying income tax on the money you save in a traditional 401(k) or IRA. For a worker in the 24 percent tax bracket, a $2,000 401(k) or IRA deposit will save you $480 in taxes. That lower tax bill can help you set more money aside for retirement. Income tax won’t be due on your retirement account contributions until the money is withdrawn from the account.
Claim the saver’s credit
Retirement savers who earn up to $31,500 as an individual, $47,250 as a head of household or $63,000 as part of a married couple are eligible for the saver’s credit. This tax credit is worth between 10 and 50 percent of the amount you contribute to a retirement account up to $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for couples. For example, a married couple earning $30,000 who saves $1,000 in a 401(k) account could earn a 50 percent tax credit worth $500, and that’s in addition to the tax deduction for the 401(k) contribution.
Save your tax refund
If you’re expecting a large tax refund, consider putting a portion of it aside for retirement. You can directly deposit part or all of your tax refund in a traditional IRA or Roth IRA using IRS form 8888. A direct deposit to a retirement or investment account reduces the temptation to spend your refund because the money never hits your checking account. An added bonus: Depositing your tax refund in a traditional IRA could boost next year’s tax refund.
Redirect your raise
Some employers plan to give workers raises and bonuses in 2018. Consider putting a portion of your newfound income aside for retirement. If you redirect half of your raise to a retirement account you will see an increase in your paychecks while also building a nest egg for the future.
Save your cash back
Some credit cards provide cash back on all or certain types of purchases, which can help responsible credit users to earn extra cash. You may also be able to earn cash back through online shopping portals or cash back smartphone apps. Instead of using the cash back to fuel current purchases, put some of the money aside for your future self.
Switch to lower cost investments
Moving your money into lower cost investments will allow you to keep more of your investment returns. For example, if you have $40,000 in an expensive fund with a 1.5 percent expense ratio, your investment is costing you $600 per year. If you shifted your account balance into a low cost index fund with an expense ratio of 0.25 percent, your annual investment costs would drop to $100 per year and allow you to keep an extra $500 in investment growth.