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Ready for Retirement: So You Haven’t Been Saving. Now What?

It happens to the best of us. We live our life, have a career, do fun and interesting things, maybe get a pet or a spouse or an entire family and then wake up one day to a shocking and scary realization – "Oh no! I've neglected to save for retirement!"


by Vanessa McGrady


Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, a money coach and personal finance expert, says that people don't save for retirement for any number of reasons: Procrastination, confusion, feeling overwhelmed, and the big one -- feeling like there's just not enough left over after bills to save. "Don't just throw your hands and give up and say, 'Oh well, it's too late,' or, 'I'm behind.' Doing something is always better than doing nothing," Khalfani-Cox says. She suggests these tactics you can take to help your future self -- no matter what age you are:


  • Turbo-charge your 401(K): If your employer offers a retirement plan, join it and make the maximum contribution possible. Many companies match contributions, which is like getting free money to amp up your savings. If you're over 50, you can contribute an additional $6,000 in 2016.


  • Start your own plan: If you work for yourself or a company that doesn't offer a plan, you can open an IRA, a Roth IRA or a Solo 401(k).


  • Rethink your retirement age: You can claim Social Security once you hit 62, but for each year you delay up to age 70, you get an 8% boost in your check for the rest of your life.


  • Take a part-time job: "I know you're tired and you work 40 hours a week as it is, but that extra income would give you the resources you need to save some extra cash for retirement," Khalfani-Cox says. You can do seasonal work in the summer and during holidays, and there's a gig-matching platform for nearly any kind of work you want to do: Try, and for starters.


  • Rethink your expenses: Khalfani-Cox says to take a good long look at where your money is going and eliminate the non-essentials. Maybe it's going to the nail salon twice a month instead of every week. Instead of a luxury vacation, consider a "staycation" and explore the fun things in your town, or take a camping trip, visit friends or family, or use a home-sharing or swapping site to save money. Use the savings to pay down debt, pay off a loan, or fund your retirement.


  • Downsize or relocate: "This is a biggie that anybody of any part of the country or any age might consider," Khalfani-Cox says. For example, a move from New Jersey to one of the seven income tax-free state such as Texas or Florida could save you tens of thousands of dollars each year.

Of course, creating new habits isn't easy. "Sometimes you have to make tough choices and you have to, it's better to start to think ahead now though," Khalfani-Cox says. "If you do gradual incremental things right now you won't have to make such drastic changes later."