Insights & News

September 2015

Saving for Retirement - It's Not Too Late

By Lyn Dippel

Top 5 priorities if you are behind on savings. Reduce all debt except your mortgage. Use this debt calculator to figure out how to prioritize paying down any debt other than your mortgage. 

If the interest rate on your mortgage is less than what you could earn on average in an investment account, you’re fine. However, because the interest is tax deductible, a 4% interest rate if you are in the 36% tax bracket (28% federal plus 8% state), is the equivalent of a 2.56% rate. It would be easy to make more than that in an investment account over time. So, if your mortgage interest rate is high, consider refinancing – and save the difference in your monthly payments.

Reduce the large ticket expenses. We have all heard tips for saving money but most of them add up to very little over time and cause more hassle than they are worth (like coupon clipping, in my opinion). However, things like keeping your vehicles a year or two longer and buying a slightly used vehicle can make a big difference over time. Insurance is another area where many people overpay. Seek advice from an objective source (not from someone who stands to make a large commission on the sale) on the appropriate amount and type of insurance you need. Reduce investment expenses by avoiding high cost commission-based investments and annuities.

Work a few extra years and delay taking Social Security. This has a triple benefit. First, you will have a couple more years to save and for your investments to compound. Second, you will delay the need to withdraw from your portfolio, which reduces the growth; and third, you can delay taking Social Security. Your Social Security benefits increase 8% each year until age 70. At age 62, your benefits are reduced to only 70-75% of your full benefit. By waiting until age 70, they will be 132% of your full benefit – almost double the age 62 benefit. Go to and create a login to see your personal payout estimates.

Take advantage of tax deferred savings vehicles and the allowable catch up contribution amounts for those age 50 and older. For example, as an employee with a 401(k) plan, you can defer as much as $23,500 per year, currently. A self-employed person can take advantage of both employer and employee contributions and can currently save up to $59,000 per year tax deferred. Roth and regular IRA catch up contributions of $6,500 are also available to those making under $193,000 for those filing as married and $131,000 for those filing as single.

Save at least 10% of your after tax income and invest it in something that will earn more than inflation. Setting up an automatic transfer is a good way to insure that the designated amount makes it into savings each month. In addition, saving any bonuses or tax refunds, etc., can give you a jump-start. Selecting an appropriate allocation for your investments is important. A good accumulation portfolio should consist of several asset classes for diversification. Equities will generally earn greater returns over time, but bonds and hard assets can stabilize the portfolio in down stock market years. Typically, the equity in these type portfolios will range from 40-60%. Each situation is different, so seek advice from an unbiased professional if you are not certain.

Anything you can do to get started will generate positive momentum. Though each of these steps may seem small, if you are consistent, these efforts can make a difference in no time at all.

Lyn Dippel, JD, CFP®, president of FAI Wealth Management, provides financial planning and investment management for transitions such as retirement, career changes, sale of a business, relocation and inheritance.

This article was originally written for the Her Mind, Her Money Column

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by FAI Wealth Management), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from FAI Wealth Management. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. FAI Wealth Management is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of FAI Wealth Management's current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available for review upon request.

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