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What to know about saving for retirement

For workers, having a plan for retirement is key to a more fruitful future.

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Beyond the need to improve quality of life and pay for utilities, one of the most important things to do as an employee is to have a plan to save for retirement.

The plan has to be indicative of where that individual stands financially in relation to factors such as life expectancy, quality of life and health, and then move forward accordingly. 

The first step is knowing how much you have in assets and what your spending rate is. From there, you can get an understanding of a target asset mix of cash, stocks, and bonds that work best. 

For most, the best course of action is investing. 

WSFS suggests that a key is making a list of your post-employment income sources — such as 401(k)s, IRAs, Social Security, and any taxable accounts. 

A consultation with a financial advisor can serve as an invaluable endeavor to help provide an objective understanding of what you have available and what is realistic moving forward. The advisor can also help you avoid any severe missteps that could throw off your retirement plans. 

For cash investments, it is recommended to have cash on hand for emergencies, as unforeseen circumstances are always a possibility. 

It may be a good idea to look for high-yield savings accounts, which are FDIC-insured and earn more than regular savings accounts. 

Fixed income investments and bonds are another option. They are less volatile than stocks often are. You can look to the U.S. Treasuries, investment grade corporate bonds, and low-cost index ETFs (exchange-traded funds) to see if bonds are the best option for you. 

There are also equity investments. 

If you prefer individual stocks, you can focus on durable companies that have weathered multiple economic cycles and have good management in place. A good rule of thumb is to monitor your concentrations to make sure you have proper diversification and aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket.

For the younger generations of workers who are not yet of retirement age, WSFS provides a set of five key steps to consider when trying to reach retirement goals. 

They are:

  1. Set up an emergency savings fund of at least six months of living expenses, so there will be cash on hand if you lose your job. Review expenses and create a monthly budget that includes small savings put aside for a rainy day.
  2. Maximize retirement account savings. Retirement accounts like 401(k)s and IRAs are a great way to boost your savings. In addition, the favorable tax status and potential company match are two more reasons to make retirement savings a priority.
  3. Pay down debt, especially high-cost credit card debt. Student loan repayment should also be a priority.
  4. Extra cash should be used to buy a home and/or look to other conservative investments that can grow over time. Get rich quick schemes should be avoided.
  5. Think long-term and review retirement plans regularly. Remember that retirement is several decades away so a plan needs to be geared for a long-term investment approach.

With uncertainties of the future, a long-term plan of saving cash for emergency needs, reducing debt, and investing in tax-advantaged retirement strategies is quite beneficial for the younger generations. It can lead to a path of more lifestyle flexibility and richer experiences.

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