It’s never too early -or too late- to start building your nest egg or retirement fund.

If you agree, you are in good company, as new research tells us that 59% of American’s believe individuals should be required to save for their own retirement.

The reality is, whether you just started working or you’re nearly done, you can still grow your savings – if you are dedicated.

Despite having monthly obligations along with other savings goals such as a home, children or car, there are ways to start building your nest egg while avoiding the feeling of being cash strapped or making extreme lifestyle changes.

Ready to learn more?

  1. Get Started

Although time and compound interest favors young enthusiasts, investors of all ages can make strides towards building their nest egg. The key: start putting your money to work as soon as possible. The earlier you start, the less you’ll have to save each month to reach your goals.

Spotlight: If you start saving at age 23, you will only have to put away ~$14 a day to be a millionaire by age 67. With the biggest assumption being a six percent average annual investment return. Add a dozen years and at age 35 the daily investment will double in this scenario and requires to a $30 a day plan in order to reach seven figure status by the age of 67.

If you are wondering how much you should be saving today and in the future – review this CNBC report with Ms. Greene, Consumer Money Expert at Intuit.

  1. Pay Yourself First

Automating my savings plan was one of the things that helped me the most as I started my career.

In a nutshell, when you automate your retirement savings, it means that you have a portion of your paycheck sent directly to a retirement account, such as a 401(k), Roth IRA or traditional IRA — you’ll never even see the money you’re setting aside.

The bottom line is that you will learn to live without it while you are strategically setting yourself up for success.

Pro tip:  You will want to work your way up to setting aside at least 8 to 10 percent of your pretax income. However, if you’re only comfortable with setting aside one percent, this will be an important step forward.

  1. Review And Set Goals

When it comes to successful goal setting and attainment, adopting a ‘what gets measured gets done’ approach is powerful.

For a current snap shot of which generation is doing the best at building their nest egg, take a look at the Merrill Edge report showcasing surprising new research:

Merrill Edge Report: Spring 2017 infographic

  1. Contribute To Your 401(k)

Does your employer offer a traditional 401(k) plan? If so, it allows you to contribute pre-tax money, which can be a true advantage as you work to build your nest egg.

Here’s an example of how it works, let’s say you are in the 15% tax bracket and plan to contribute $100 per pay period. Since that money comes out of your paycheck before taxes are assessed, your take-home pay will drop by only $85. What does that mean? You can actually invest more of your income without feeling it as much in your monthly budget.

What does that mean? You can actually invest more of your income without feeling it as much in your monthly budget.

Worst case, if you leave that employer, you have choices on what to do with your 401(k).

  1. Sign Up For Your Company Match

In the event your employer offers to match your 401(k) plan, make sure you contribute at least enough to take full advantage of the match.

Don’t leave it on the table. This is essentially free money.

  1. Set-Up An IRA

One of the reasons it’s important to start saving early if you can, is that yearly contribution to IRAs are limited. Aim to increase your retirement contributions up to the maximum allowed in your IRA. Also, consult your tax advisor for the latest insight.

7­. Leverage catch-up contributions if you are age 50 or older

Once you reach age 50, you’re eligible to go beyond the normal limits with catch-up contributions to IRAs and 401(k)s.

So if over the years, you haven’t been able to save as much as you would have liked, catch-up contributions can help boost your retirement savings,” shares Debra Greenberg, Director of IRA Product, Merrill Lynch.

Noteworthy: You generally have until April 15 of each year to make your contribution for the previous year. If April 15 falls on a weekend or a holiday, the deadline is typically the next business day.

  1. Evaluate Spending

Take a close look at your budget. You might negotiate a lower rate on your cable bill or car insurance. Packing a lunch along with carpooling once a week could also help ease expenditures.

In addition, several banks and basic software programs have online budget worksheets together with a cash flow calculator that can help you determine where your money is going. These tools can also shine the light on places to reduce spending so you have more to save or invest.

  1. Invest Additional Funds

Have you received extra money this year? Although it may be tempting to spend it – do this instead: Every time you receive a raise, increase your contribution percentage.

Here are a few more strategic ideas from Edward Jones Financial Advisor Joseph B. Ortiz on how to use your salary bonus, tax refund or any extra money you may receive:

Help fund your IRA. If you were to receive a tax refund of $2,857 (the 2016 average according to the IRS), you’d have slightly more than half of the $5,500 annual IRA contribution limit for 2017, although, if you are 50 or older, you can contribute an extra $1,000.

Consequently, you may find it much easier to fully fund your IRA for the year – and you should do exactly that because an IRA is a great retirement savings vehicle.

If you have a traditional IRA, your contributions may be fully or partially deductible, depending on your income, while your earnings can grow tax deferred.

Pro Tip: With traditional IRA’s taxes are due upon withdrawal, and withdrawals prior to age 59½ may be subject to a 10 percent IRS penalty. With a Roth IRA, your contributions are not deductible, but your earnings are distributed tax-free, provided you don’t start taking withdrawals until you’re 59½ and you’ve had your account at least five years.

Help diversify your portfolio. If a market downturn hits one asset class, and that’s where you keep most of your money, you could take a big hit. Owning an array of investments – such as stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, and so on – can help prepare your portfolio to weather the effects of market volatility.

By adding new investments, or increasing your holdings of existing investments, you may be able to further diversify your portfolio – and you can use your refund for this purpose. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification, by itself, can’t guarantee profits or protect against loss.)

Contribute to a 529 plan. If you have children or grandchildren whom you’d like to help send to college, consider using your tax refund to help fund a 529 plan. Your 529 plan contributions may be deductible from your state taxes.  Bright spot: future gains, if used for college expenses, will be tax free.

Your earnings are also distributed tax-free, provided they are used for qualified higher education expenses. Withdrawals not used for higher education expenses may be subject to both income tax and a 10 percent penalty.

Pay off some debts. You can help improve your financial picture by reducing your debt load – but it may make sense to prioritize these debts. For example, rather than make an extra mortgage payment, you might want to first tackle those debts or loans that carry a high interest rate and that don’t allow you to deduct interest payments.

For example, rather than make an extra mortgage payment, you might want to first tackle those debts or loans that carry a high interest rate and that don’t allow you to deduct interest payments.

After all, your monthly mortgage payment will remain the same even if you make an extra payment, but if you can get rid of some smaller debts, you will free up some cash that you could use to invest for your future.

Think carefully about how to use your salary bonus, tax refund or extra money. It represents an opportunity that you won’t want to waste.

  1. Look Closely At Delaying Social Security

If you are ready to wrap up your career or getting closer, take a look at the benefits of delaying Social Security.

Why? For each year you can delay receiving a Social Security payment before you reach age 70, you can increase the amount you receive in the future. Age 62 is the earliest you can begin receiving Social Security benefits, but for each year you wait (until age 70), your monthly benefit will increase.

The additional income adds up quickly. Pushing your retirement back even one year may significantly boost your Social Security income during retirement.

  1. Continue Learning

This is your nest egg. It is important.

Is your schedule is too full? Consider working with a results oriented trusted financial advisor in good standing.

In either situation, plan your success – by learning how to build a strong financial future.



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Kelly Isley is an international strategist, business leader, columnist, author, and pilot with more than 21 years of experience in the aerospace, finance, engineering, and healthcare industries. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and covers global workforce, workplace and leadership topics. If you have any suggestions for future articles please contact Kelly via email or twitter.