I have four kids and my oldest started high school this year. I am excited to see her grow and change as she enters this new stage of her life. Like all of us, at the start of high school, she will learn a lot of things: advanced math, how to write papers, and how to procrastinate on her homework assignments and then stay up all night the night before they're due to get them done.
Unfortunately for many of us, procrastination follows us throughout life. This can get in the way of retirement planning.
According to a 2011 Harris Poll study, 32 percent of Americans between the ages of 34 and 45 have nothing saved for retirement, and 25 percent of those between 46 and 65 are in the same boat. You may find these statistics surprising, or you may fall into one of these groups yourself. If you do, all is not lost. Although it may be more difficult to reach your desired goal, it's never too late to get that retirement nest egg going, as long as you are still in the workforce.
401(k) is key. If you're eligible for one through your employer, contribute as much as you can as soon as you can. For 2013, your maximum contribution is $17,500, plus the amount your employer will match. If you're self-employed, it's likely you can open a solo 401(k) plan, which can allow you to contribute even more than the $17,500 limit.
IRAs are second best. This late in the game, 401(k) savings may not be enough to keep you solvent in retirement. Look into your IRA options as well and see if you can maximize your investment potential. Note that your 401(k) contributions may affect the tax benefits you can get with a traditional IRA. Work closely with a financial planner to ensure you do what is most beneficial when choosing between a traditional and Roth.
Don't forget your catch-up contributions. To help those who are closer to retirement age, people over the age of 50 can contribute more to government sponsored retirement plans than their younger counterparts. For 2013, the limit for catch-ups is $5,500. Make sure you take advantage if you can.
Overcome procrastination. The most important thing is to get started now. If you are having a difficult time getting motivated, find a good retirement calculator online and put in the amount you have set aside as well as the monthly amount you are setting aside for retirement. It will calculate what you may be able to expect at retirement. This may just scare you into starting.
If you're a perfectionist and are waiting for the perfect time to start saving -- that time is now. Quit procrastinating. This assignment is past due and it's time to brew a pot of coffee and get started -- even if you have to stay up all night.
Paul Anderson is an investment advisor and partner at Moneywise Wealth Management. He is also a host of the Moneywise Guys radio program on KERN 1180 weekdays 10 a.m. to noon. His website is www.MoneywiseGuys.com. Advisory Services offered through: SCF Investment Advisors, Inc. Corporate Office: 155 E. Shaw Ave. #102 Fresno, CA. 93710 800-955-2517. These are Anderson's opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian or SCF.