An excellent way to save
What is my favorite feature of investing in your retirement plan at work? No, it’s not the employer match, well alright it is the match, but a very close second is the fact that it is automatic!
Because companies are doing away with pension plans, saving for retirement can seem like an impossibly huge task. But as the old saying goes “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Having a little money taken out of each paycheck and deposited automatically into an employer sponsored retirement account is taking that one bite at a time. Eventually you will get that Retirement Elephant eaten.
Change in contribution limits
Each year the IRS announces if there are changes in the maximum contribution limits to employer plans due to cost-of-living increases. Why is that important to you? Because you can take bigger bites; and get that Retirement Elephant eaten sooner. The catch is, depending on the instructions you set up for 2012, you may need to take action and contact your Human Resources department to let them know that you want to increase the amount you are investing in your retirement plan. This is the month that HR usually wants to hear from you about these decisions, so the timing is right.
401(k), 403(b), 457, and SARSEPs
The 2013 maximum contribution limit is $17,500, an increase of $500 over 2012. Be sure to contact your company to take advantage of the opportunity to put more money into your plan next year! If you are 50 or turning 50 in 2013 you have the opportunity to add additional money to your employer sponsored retirement plan each year in the form of a Catch-up Contribution, the amount for 2013 is $5,500 the same amount as last year. However, please check to make sure you are taking advantage of this opportunity; it is common for me to find that new clients are not doing this, and have often never even heard of a Catch-up Contribution. But now you have, and you can take full advantage of it!
The maximum contribution limit also went up for the SIMPLE, it will be $12,000 in 2013 whereas it was $11,500 in 2012. If you are 50 or turning 50 in 2013 the Catch-up Contribution for SIMPLEs in 2013 will be unchanged at $2,500.
What to do
Check to see what you are contributing to your employer sponsored retirement plan, if you want to “put the max in” as I so often hear, make sure that you do that by adjusting the numbers for the new 2013 increases.
If you are over 50 or will turn 50 in 2013, make sure that you take advantage of the Catch-up Contribution which allows you to put additional money in the account.
If you are not “putting in the max” make sure that you are getting at least the full amount of the match from your company. This needs to be balanced with having an emergency fund/savings account.
Once you have gotten to the point of getting all of the match, and establishing the appropriate emergency fund for your family, you need to evaluate all your goals and make sure that you deploy any extra cash among those goals in a way that fits with your priorities and values.
A hint for increasing your retirement savings – each time you get a raise, increase your retirement account contribution by one percent. You will not even feel the loss, because it is money you didn’t even have yet.
Take action today, and you will be that much closer to retirement!