11 Ways to Jump-Start Your Retirement Savings If You've Been Procrastinating

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RAMPING UP FOR RETIREMENT

While there are seemingly a million reasons why you might not want to take money away from your paycheck to save for retirement, there are a dozen or so great reasons why you should. Saving a tiny bit each month can go a long way to increasing your comfort as you reach those golden years. It’s easier than you might think, and it’s never too late to jumpstart your retirement savings.

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INVEST IN A 401(K)

A 401(k) can be the most important part of saving for retirement. When your company provides you with a tax-deferred plan run, don’t walk, to take advantage of it. Because the money is pulled out of your take-home pay before taxes, investing actually lowers your taxable income so you pay less income tax. If you make $45,000 a year and your a tax bracket is 25 percent, contributing the minimum six percent from your salary into a tax-deferred 401(k) reduces your taxable income to $42,300.

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SET UP AUTOMATIC INCREASES

Most financial institutions suggest contributing 15 percent or more to your 401(k) plan. To get there, start with the minimum amount (typically six percent) and make small increases along the way. Your employer’s plan will dictate how often you may make changes to your 401(k) contribution. Some employers offer automatic increases, such as an annual increase program, which can be set to change incrementally each year to increase your contribution amount by a certain percentage each year.
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SET UP YOUR OWN 401(K)

If your employer is a miser and doesn’t have a 401(k) plan for you, it’s not the end of the world. You can, and should, set up your own. Discount brokerages like Fidelity and Ameritrade make it easy to enroll in a 401(k). Fidelity recently reduced the cap on it’s in-house mutual funds. While investors once had to save up $2,500 to open a 401(k), now it can be done for as little as $50.
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CONSIDER CATCH-UP CONTRIBUTIONS

Don’t forget that you can contribute “catch-up” contributions. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) limit for elective contributions (Pre-tax and Roth) is $18,500. If you are eligible to make catch-up contributions, that limit is extended by $6,000. These limits may increase each year to account for inflation. The IRS also limits total contributions (pre-tax and after-tax, from both employee and employer). For more information, refer to irs.gov.

Create A Spending Plan
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SET UP AN AUTOMATIC SAVINGS ACCOUNT

If you have a checking account, there’s no reason not to have a savings account and designate automatic draws from checking to savings. If your bank won’t permit you to open a savings account without a required minimum balance, look to some online banking institutions that don’t charge fees. Transferring as little as $15 a week can mean an additional $780 a year.
Open A High Yield Money Market Account
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OPEN A HIGH YIELD MONEY MARKET ACCOUNT

Sallie Mae and CIT Bank are currently offering easy to open money market accounts. Sallie Mae is offering a 2.12 percent annual percentage yield (APY) with no minimum deposit. CIT Bank is offering 1.85 percent with $100 down. Look for FDIC insured, low- or no-fee requirements when opening a money market account. Look for the option to write checks or make withdrawals on the account (up to 6 times a month without penalty) to move funds into a 401(k) or IRA to offset taxes and save more money. Credit cards also offer money market accounts. Discover is currently offering a $0 minimum to open, 1.90 percent APY money market account.

Split Your Paycheck
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SPLIT YOUR PAYCHECK

Most companies pay their employees via direct deposit. If your company implements direct deposit, take the option of splitting your deposit into two accounts and make one of them a savings account. You can save either a fixed amount or a percentage to your savings account. Not only will you not be tempted to spend your entire paycheck, but you will also start earning interest on that money.
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DETERMINE WHAT YOU NEED TO SAVE

Retirement calculators like one from NerdWallet can give a glimpse of what you should be saving each month to make your retirement a comfortable one. The initial result may scare you, but don’t let it. If you have to save $250,000 for retirement and have 15 years to go, that’s $1,300 a month. It may seem like a lot of money, but invest in a 401(k) and some aggressive, high-yield mutual funds and you will get there in no time.

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CONSOLIDATE ACCOUNTS & REDUCE FEES

If you have several accounts and you’re paying $10 to $20 per month in maintenance fees, you’re wasting money. Consolidating accounts could save you hundreds of dollars in annual bank fees — money that could be going towards your retirement.

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SET UP CASH BACK REWARDS

Discover, Capital One, Citi, and Chase all offer cash back rewards. Depending on the credit card you have, you may see your cash back rewards grow as dollars, points, or miles. Redeem these for cash in the form of a statement credit, check, or deposit into a bank account. Some cards that are marketed as cash back cards also let you use the points you earn for other rewards such as travel, gift cards, or merchandise. Cash back is a great way to kick start your retirement savings.
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ROUND UP YOUR PURCHASES

Rounding up is a great way to save money without feeling like you are breaking your bank account to do so. Apps like Qapital make saving easy and understandable. Pick your goal, and the app sets up a savings rule and a round-up rule. Rules could be anything from, “Spend less than x amount on Starbucks per week, and save the rest for a vacation” to “Round up amounts and deposit the rest into a savings account.” The app will also invest money into a diversified portfolio based on your income and risk assessment.

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