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Identify the retirement account for you
One big reason why people often do not save money toward retirement is that their employer does not provide a retirement savings plan, Royal said.
But this does not necessarily need to stop you from investing toward your retirement years, he said.
Individual retirement accounts will still let you set aside pre-tax or post-tax funds and invest the money so it can grow.
A traditional IRA allows you to contribute pre-tax money, which will lower your taxable income now. However, you will have to pay levies on the withdrawals you make in retirement later on.
A Roth IRA, on the other hand, lets you contribute earnings that have already been taxed, therefore paving the way for tax-free withdrawals in retirement. Another plus: You may withdraw your contributions penalty-free. (However, the earnings on any money invested may be subject to a 10% penalty and additional taxes depending on your age and how long the money has been invested.)
The maximum you can contribute to IRA accounts in 2022 is $ 6,000 if you’re under age 50, or $ 7,000 if you’re age 50 and up. Each account is also subject to certain income phase-out ranges.
Maximize your retirement savings
If you have access to a 401 (k) through your employer, you will be able to save even more. This year, savers can put away as much as $ 20,500, or $ 27,000 for those ages 50 and up.
A 401 (k) is the first place you should look to increase your retirement savings, Royal said.
The reason: Many employers offer a match, meaning when you contribute, they will also put in some bonus money for you, up to a certain annual contribution rate.
That match is free money, so it’s best to take full advantage of it, if you can, Royal said. Only after that should you look at other investing options like a Roth IRA, he said.
Go for growth with your investments
After you’ve identified which accounts are right for your needs, you then want to think about investments.
Stocks generally have the best long-term growth potential. As such, your total exposure to stocks will matter more than whether you’ve invested in an S&P 500 Index, growth stock or value stock fund, Royal said.
Provided you are 10 years or more away from retirement, you have enough time to amp up your risk exposure by owning stocks. As long as you stay invested amid the market’s ups and downs, you will likely enjoy attractive long-term returns, Royal said.
Admittedly, finding the right asset mix can puzzle investors who are just starting out. In that case, you may want to opt for a target-date fund based on your anticipated retirement date. Target-date funds adjust the asset mix automatically as you approach retirement, moving toward more conservative bonds as you reach your desired date.
However, even after you retire, you still need some exposure to stocks, due to the fact that your non-working years could last 20 years or more, Royal said.
“Just having that growth in your portfolio later on, even in retirement, gives you further options,” he said.