Living 50 Plus

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Rebounding from a late start to retirement savings

Some people do not have the ability to begin saving for retirement early on. Others may have brushed retirement savings aside for so long that they are now worried that it's too late to begin socking away money for retirement.

While it's best to start saving for retirement as early as possible, the good news is that it's never too late to start planning for retirement. If your 40th birthday has long passed and you're finally thinking ahead to retirement, consider these catch-up strategies.

• Research tax-advantageous retirement savings plans. A financial planner can point you in the right direction, or consult with your employer about employee programs. Deposit money into a 401(k) or 403(b) plan or another retirement vehicle. Jump on any opportunities when your employer matches invested funds. Investigate an IRA and find out if there are any government incentives. Depending on your age, you may be able to deposit more money into such accounts than other investors.

• Cut back on expenses. Cutting back on unnecessary expenses is a great way to save more money for retirement. Figure out where you can save some money you can then allocate to retirement savings. Maybe you can reduce insurance coverage on an older car or raise your deductible? Downsize cable packages or skip that costly cup of coffee on the way to work. Perhaps it's time to look for a smaller, less expensive home or a compact car instead of an SUV. Any money saved now will benefit you when the time comes time to bid farewell to the workforce.

• Delay your retirement. Many people who retire find themselves bored and looking for ways to fill their time, and as a result more and more people are delaying their retirement, which also gives them more time to save for that day when they do call it quits. If you want to work less, discuss and negotiate a phased retirement with your bosses that allows you to stick with your employer but gradually work fewer hours until you retire completely. You may be able to work part-time for several years and retire when you're most comfortable.

• Consider more aggressive funds. Even if you are 50 you still have a few decades before retirement, which leaves lots of time to grow your retirement savings. But you may want to consider more aggressive funds that can help you catch up more quickly than less aggressive investments. Just know that aggressive funds may also leave you susceptible to substantial losses.

• Don't amass debt. If you're saving for retirement but only paying minimum balances on your credit cards, then you're not really saving. Pay down credit card debt before you begin to set aside money for retirement.

Delaying retirement planning may mean you have to work a little harder to build up a solid reserve. But by following some financial tips and persevering, you can still enjoy retirement with security.

Maryland Pennysaver