Most individuals have a basic plan in mind for how they want to spend their senior years. Not many people ever take the time to sit down and figure out how they will be able to achieve their ideal way of life financially.
Before making the retirement transition, there are many things to think about and plan for. At the very least, you should strive to fund your retirement account(s) fully, own your own home, be debt-free, and have some savings set aside in an emergency.
By following the instructions in this step-by-step guide, you will be able to build a comprehensive financial portfolio, allowing you to take control of your retirement plans.
Instead of employing a conventional catch-all formula, the holistic approach to financial planning involves making preparations for all of one’s retirement requirements and unanticipated life events.
Start by Taking Stock
It is helpful to start your planning by compiling a list of everything you own before doing anything else. You should include things like cars, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, cash, and bank accounts in your list of assets. Next, make a list of everything you owe, including any debts associated with your credit cards or student loans.
Obtaining an accurate representation of the current financial situation is the most important thing that you can do. A “balance sheet” will be produced as a result of this process. It reveals every aspect of your financial situation to you. It would be in your best interest to include all of the debts on the list; leaving any of them off would be undesirable.
Once you have a clear picture of what you own and how much you owe, you will be able to establish reasonable objectives for reducing your debt and increasing your assets.
Contribute Matching Funds to Your 401(k) Retirement Account
Many companies will increase the amount of money their employees put into their 401(k) accounts by doubling or even tripling it. Each company’s amount to these matching funds can be very different from one another.
Free money is created through matching contributions. Some individuals do not take advantage of them because they are either unaware of the concept of the time value of money or are under the impression that they are unable to manage financially with a reduction in their take-home pay.
However, it is in your best interest to contribute the most you can. You would immediately be earning a return of one hundred percent on the first five percent of your contribution if your employer were to match your contribution dollar-for-dollar on the first five percent of your contribution.
If your employer does not match your contributions, you won’t see any benefits from putting this step first.
Consider the fact that your 401(k) will continue to grow tax-deferred until you begin taking distributions, which typically occurs after the age of 59 and a half. If you do not contribute an adequate amount toward employee matching, you run the risk of losing millions of dollars over the course of your working life. This is a very real possibility.
Pay Off Your Debt With High-Interest Credit Cards
Creating a strategy for paying off high-interest credit card debt is the next thing you need to do if you want to build a complete financial portfolio for yourself. You might try what’s known as the “debt avalanche method”:
- Rank all of your debts according to the interest rate that you are currently paying. Using the balance sheet you have, rank all of your debts in order of the interest rate you are currently paying, starting with the highest.
- Put as much as you possibly can toward paying off your debt: Determine how much of your monthly income you can put toward paying off your debt.
- Aim your attacks at the card with the most value: Pay the minimum balance on all of your credit card debt, except for the debt with the highest priority. It would be best to prioritize paying off the card with the highest balance first by making as many payments as possible until it is completely paid off.
- Pay off your obligations one at a time: When you’ve paid off a card, mark it off your list and then put the physical card in a drawer. You should avoid canceling the card because doing so will bring down your credit score and raise the interest rate. Please refrain from charging it again.
- Keep going: Carry on working through these steps until all of these accounts have been paid in full.
Although there are other approaches to paying off debt, the debt avalanche is one that has proven to be effective. Keep in mind that you shouldn’t get rid of your credit cards completely because, when used responsibly, they can be a very useful tool for managing your finances.
Finish Contributing to a Roth IRA
The Roth Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is widely regarded as one of the most advantageous retirement vehicles for investors in the United States. You are eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA if your annual income does not exceed $140,000 (if you are single) or $208,000 (if you are married and filing jointly) in 2021. In 2022, these limits will be raised to a maximum of $144,000 and $214,00, respectively. This means that the vast majority of people will be able to do so.
Donations are made with money that has already been deducted from the donor’s taxable income and is subject to annual caps. The money contributed to a Roth IRA can be taken out at any time without incurring any penalties.
If your account has been active for at least five years, when you reach age 59 and a half, you can withdraw your earnings without having to pay taxes on them.
In other words, if you bought $10,000 worth of a stock using your qualified Roth IRA and held it for 20 years, you would be able to sell your shares at retirement without owing any money to the Internal Revenue Service. This is true even if the value of the stock increased to millions of dollars during that time period.
Get Yourself a House!
One of the most effective ways to work toward the goal of completing your financial portfolio is to save money for a down payment on a house. While there are costs associated with owning a home, these costs are offset by the fact that you are turning what was previously an expense (rent) into equity, which can then be used as collateral for additional loans.
In addition, the interest that you pay on your mortgage is tax-deductible, and if you sell your home and make a profit, you are eligible for a lifetime capital gains tax exemption of either $250,000 (if you are single) or $500,000 (if you are married), depending on which is greater.
Consider your house more as an investment than as a place actually to live for the time being. For instance, if you put a 20 percent down payment on a home that costs $100,000, you will have spent $20,000. If it increases in value by 4%, or $4,000, over the course of the next year, the property will be worth $104,000.
If you had invested $20,000 in stock and received an additional $4,000 in value after one year, you would have an investment with a return rate of twenty percent, which is an excellent return for the money invested.
Develop Your Contingency Savings Plan
It is necessary to create a cash reserve to cover basic living expenses that is sufficient to last six months. It is beneficial to save money in case of unexpected emergencies, such as needing to make unanticipated repairs to one’s home, losing one’s job, or incurring unexpected medical expenses. Your savings for unexpected events should, at a bare minimum, be sufficient to cover up to six months’ worth of the following expenses:
- Mortgage payments
- Insurance costs
- The costs of utilities
- Recurring payments (e.g., car payments or student loan payments)
- Minimum monthly payments required for credit cards
Not profit should be your priority when building up an emergency fund reserve for yourself. Putting the money into savings, such as a money market account, is the most straightforward course of action to take. If you are interested in accumulating a portfolio of certificates of deposits (CDs) that you can ladder to generate income, consider doing so.
You could visit your neighborhood bank and open six certificates of deposit in the following order to construct a laddered CD portfolio with a reserve of $12,000.
- $2,000 30-day (1 month) maturity
- $2,000 60-day (2 month) maturity
- $2,000 90-day (3 month) maturity
- $2,000 120-day (4 month) maturity
- $2,000 150-day (5 month) maturity
- $2,000 180-day (6 month) maturity
Roll over each mature CD into a new six-month CD as it becomes available. In a short amount of time, you will have six distinct CDs for six months, and one of those will mature every month.
Explore Your Options With Regards To Investments
Having a brokerage account allows you to invest in various financial instruments, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, real estate investment trusts (REITs), Treasurys, and more.
Investing allows you to diversify further the holdings in your portfolio, which in turn enables you to reduce the risk associated with the various financial plans you have been developing. Utilizing online discount brokers is another way to cut down on the costs of your investments.
On the other hand, many brokerage firms provide clients with the ability to choose between traditional and online modes of trade execution in the event that the former is not to their liking.
Put your money into yourself
Consider investing in yourself by enrolling in classes if you aim to start a business, enhance your professional skills, or differentiate yourself from other candidates to prospective employers. They will assist you in increasing your earning potential, which will make it possible for you to advance more quickly with your financial plan.
You can find professional certification programs at a wide variety of colleges and universities. For instance, the School of Professional Studies at New York University grants certificates in a variety of fields, including business administration, entrepreneurship, management, and technology. You can complete a wide variety of training and credentialing programs online.
Taking some introductory classes in finance and accounting is a great choice that you can make for yourself. Even though the price might be several thousand dollars, the knowledge you would gain could make a significant difference in your income if you applied it wisely, which would make the investment pay for itself many times over.
Put money aside for the education of your children
You are not obligated in any way to send your kid to school, and I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The vast majority of parents want their children to have the best possible life. However, it is important to keep in mind that a child’s education may be more beneficial to them if they have something at stake and are required to fund or help contribute to the ever-increasing costs of their education.
It is imperative that you begin putting money away for your own retirement before you begin setting money aside for your children’s education. Your children have access to a multitude of low-interest loan options, as well as scholarships and grant opportunities, as well as federal student aid. If you deplete your retirement fund to assist your children, you will be left with no other options.
Hold fast to your strategy
Congratulations! You have successfully completed the challenging work necessary to establish a strong financial future for yourself. Making wise choices and maintaining a disciplined approach to the fundamentals of constructing a diversified investment portfolio is essential to achieving one’s goals and becoming prosperous. Congratulations!
Creating wealth is not accomplished through some mystical process; rather, it is the result of a cumulation of deliberate, inconspicuous decisions. If you can focus on the bigger picture even as you make smaller daily decisions, you will find that you are making significant headway.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Much Money Am I Allowed to Put Into a 401(k) Plan?
The portion of your income you choose to set aside in a 401(k) plan is called “elective deferrals.” The maximum amount that you can contribute to a 401(k) plan in 2021 is $19,500; this amount will rise to $20,500 the following year (2022). If you are at least 50 years old, you are eligible to make “catch-up” contributions of an additional $6,500 per year for the years 2021 and 2022. Your maximum allowable contribution takes into account any matching contributions from your employer, non-elective contributions from your employer, elective deferrals, and forfeitures.
It is essential to ensure that you contribute enough to meet the criteria set forth by your employer; doing so maximizes your account’s earning potential with money you did not have to earn to accumulate it.
How Much Money Can I Put Into a Roth IRA?
Both Roth IRAs and Traditional IRAs have the same limit on the amount of money that you can contribute each year. Because the maximum amount is subject to change on an annual basis, it is important to check for any modifications each year.
If you are younger than 49 years old, the maximum contribution you can make to either type will be $6000 in 2021 and 2022. You are eligible to make catch-up contributions and can contribute up to $7,000 annually if you are 50 years old or older.
How Much Money Should I Put Away Each Month for My Retirement?
When it comes to retirement, there are a lot of different things to think about, such as health care, the cost of living, and hobbies.
The 80 percent rule is an excellent guide to follow if you want to maintain the lifestyle you had before retiring. This rule stipulates that you should have enough money saved up to withdraw 80 percent of your current salary on an annual basis for the number of years you anticipate being retired.
There are other approaches, but the one that is best for you will be determined by your objectives and the specifics of your situation.