These techniques will help you save for retirement

Putting coins into a piggybank at home. Saving, investing and thinking about the future. Getty Images stock photo

by Renata Sago

In cooperation with AARP

Happy Aging is a unique series focused on how to help you age well. These stories have been created in cooperation with AARP and Word In Black.

The day of your retirement arrives. You’re at the office surrounded by teary-eyed colleagues. They reminisce over the first time you all met, then ask the typical retirement day questions: “What do you have planned for your new life?” “Will you do some traveling or buckle down and finish up your memoir?” You don’t have answers to their questions and you’re okay with that. You’ve saved enough coins to be comfortable for a long time.

Retirement is more than an event. It’s a process. It can take years of intention, hard work, and serendipity – especially if you’re running a small business or working part time. According to a survey released in 2021 by the U.S. Census Bureau, around 37 percent of Black working-age people—from baby boomers to Generation Z—had at least one retirement savings account in 2020. 

It’s easy to start a 401K package or pension if you work full time for an established company that offers these options. If you’re self-employed or work part-time, though, then you’ve got different options for successful retirement. Here’s how to get started:

Define What Retirement Means to You

Gone are the days when retirement had a fixed age and lifestyle. Retirement can be a decision to stop working forever.  It can also be a pivot to a new career path. If you define retirement as entering a new phase of your work life, then there’s a chance that you could retire more than once! 

Decide When You’d Like to Retire 

No need to have all of the details. Just come up with an idea of when you’d like to start a new phase of your work life. Having a rough idea will help you prepare for the unexpected. This is especially true if you’re making plans with a romantic or business partner. 

Estimate How Much Savings You’ll Need

Begin with the now. Take a deep breath. Write down your income versus expenses. This includes health care costs and taxes. Consider your cash flow, too (because the timing of when you receive income is important). Don’t forget about inflation. This retirement calculator will give you a good baseline estimate. 

Begin to Build Up Your Savings By Opening an Account…or Two…or Three.

Identify how you’d like to start saving, then consider some of the types of accounts, here. 

  • Traditional 401K.
  • Solo 401K
  • IRA (Individual Retirement Account)
  • Tax-efficient mutual fund
  • High yield savings account with flexible interest rates
  • SEP with flexible contributions
  • Bonds

You’ll find some insight for some of the accounts, here. Consider talking to a financial advisor to figure out which approaches will benefit your lifestyle. Start with the bank where you have your checking account. 

Pick Up a Job During Retirement

If you decide that you don’t want to rely solely on savings and investments during retirement, then keep working. Just go at a different pace. Instead of being the boss, be a consultant. If working part-time keeps you feeling productive and social, then go that route. If you really need to cover certain health care costs for yourself and family, then look for full-time work. 

There will be some uncomfortable moments, of course. But what would the journey of life be without them?

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