At the start of every New Year, many people begin thinking about how they could save more money or improve their personal finances.
As agents and advisors help clients map out their finances during this time of year, you should encourage clients to think beyond 2017 and on to their retirement years.
Related: 17 unexpected expenses in retirement
According to one recent study from The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America®, more than one in three Americans are considering delaying retirement. But even when saving for retirement may not have been a financial priority in previous years, your clients can easily make retirement savings part of their New Year’s financial plan.
If a client hasn’t quite started their retirement planning and is beginning to think that all hope may be lost, here’s some good news: No matter where an individual currently stand with retirement planning, it’s never too late to start making plans.
Helping your clients assess where their finances currently stand and discussing what steps they can take in 2017 to improve their financial wellness, including retirement savings, is a great way to kick off the New Year with clients.
Ready to help your clients take action? Continue reading for five things clients can do in 2017 to kick off their retirement savings.
In order to have money during retirement, your clients need to start saving as much money as they can. (Photo: iStock)
Retirement planning kick start No. 5: Start saving
It may sound obvious, but it’s really that simple.
In order to have money during retirement, your clients need to start saving as much money as they can, as early as possible, by setting aside as much money as they can afford.
The same applies to investing: The sooner an individual can start to invest, the higher their assets can potentially grow.
So take a hard look at your client’s current spending habits. Where is their money currently going? More than two-thirds of Americans feel they are not good at living within their means, according to “The 2016 Guardian Study of Financial and Emotional Confidence™. “ Do your clients fall into this category?
If so, encourage them to avoid the tendency to splurge on items or purchase things they don’t really need. Most importantly, help them create a budget that’s easy to stick to and carves out space for them to meet their savings goals. It may help to write down these goals and refer to them during client meetings. Remind them of their vision and dreams, most people are visual so show them pictures to stay focused on their long-term.
Calculate what current accounts are worth and how much you client can expect to generate from these sources each month during retirement. (Photo: iStock)
Retirement planning kick start No. 4: Take stock
Savers may already have an individual retirement account (IRA), 401(k) or other assets that may provide them some income during retirement. Look back over every job they’ve had and check to see if they’re eligible for a pension or have left any money in a 401(k) or 403(b). If they do, see what they’re worth and calculate how much they can expect to generate from these sources each month during retirement.
Start with their Social Security benefit. Then move on to the other assets they have including bank accounts, brokerage accounts and defined benefit and contribution plans. Provide estimates for the taxes they should expect to pay. Compare the after-tax total to their predicted retirement expenses to determine how much they’ll need to make up. This — “income gap”— should be their ultimate target as they ramp up their savings efforts.
See also: 7 ways retirees can make money
Retirement planning kick start No. 3: Rebalance their portfolio
If clients have already started an IRA or 401(k), this is a good time to revisit the asset allocation strategy which should include a mix of stocks, bonds and other investments that will help them stay more committed to their long-term plan. Since asset classes grow at different rates of return, it is necessary to periodically rebalance a portfolio to maintain the target asset mix that your client desires. Asset classes associated with high degrees of risk tend to have higher rates of return than less-volatile asset classes, and because of this a portfolio that is not rebalanced periodically may become more risky or volatile over time. Consider their retirement plan or 401(k), those type of accounts may be viewed as “set it and forget it,” but it’s important to review and make sure your client’s asset mix is what they wanted maintained for that period of life.
Many people of retirement age continue working well into their 70s. (Photo: iStock)
Retirement planning kick start No. 2: Maximize catch-ups
If they’re 50 or older, they can make “catch-up contributions” to certain retirement accounts (including 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans and traditional or Roth IRAs) above and beyond normal contribution limits. In 2016 and 2017, catch-ups are up to $1,000 for IRAs and $6,000 for 401(k)s. Other IRS rules on catch-up contributions are available here.
Retirement planning kick start No. 1: Invest in new skills
According to a study by the National Institute on Aging, a significant number of retirees continue working part-time well into their 70s. If it’s likely your clients will need to work during retirement to finance their desired lifestyle, now is the time for them to invest in the skills they’ll need to land the job they’d like to work during their retirement years. They can start working a job they would be interested in doing now on a part-time basis. This not only provides them with job experience but also extra money to put into their retirement savings.
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