The percentage of married couples is down, the rate of never married individuals is rising, and the rate of divorce is up. As seen in the report below, the decline in marriage among the young is prominent. If the trend continues, the result is likely to exhibit more singles in retirement. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the 2013 Census showed that of all the 65 year-olds in the United States, 54% were unmarried women and 27% were unmarried men.
For those who are currently single, saving for retirement isn’t always a top priority. Without a spouse or children to support, singles can mistakenly underestimate the importance of projecting for a retirement fund. While it may not require hours of arduous planning to retire well as a single individual, it may come as a surprise that it can be more difficult to retire single than as a couple.
Singles may face tax disadvantages compared with couples. Couples may be better able to share expenses such as rent, a mortgage, car payments, food, and so forth. Also, without a spouse available to care for them in old age, singles may need to consider long-term care needs. All of these costs further eat away at their paycheck.
While it can be difficult to put money away into one’s distant future vs. the instant gratification of spending now, those consistent contributions could be the difference between a strained retirement and a satisfying one.
SIX RETIREMENT PLANNING TIPS FOR SINGLES
For singles who want to get a grip on their financial future, consider the six action items below.
1) Stop And Think About Your Retirement Wants
Even with all of the resources at work, online, and through government agencies, studies have shown that more than a third of Americans haven’t started saving for retirement. In addition, more than 25% of those aged 50-64 still haven’t put away any money towards their retirement.
Avoid entering retirement blindly, or you could end up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches instead of gourmet meals. Instead, take some time to envision what you’d like your retirement to look like. Do you envision retiring near a sandy beach by the ocean, or do you see yourself staying put in a small condo in the city? Do you want to travel, or do you want to stay close to your family and friends? Once you get an idea of what you want your retirement to look like, then you can actually begin to understand how many dollars it could take, and how much you should aim to put away each month.
Where there is a vision, there is a plan. And when there is a plan, there is a way!
2) Save Early And Often
Compound interest is one of the most powerful forces in the world. A small amount invested at a young age can create a large sum by retirement age. Take a look at the chart below. Using a rate of 8%, a $24,000 investment from the age of 21 to 67 can turn into $471,358. That same investment amount made from the age of 47 to 67 totals only $59,295. These results are hypothetical but the result of the math simply couldn’t be more telling. Socking money away into a boring old 401(k) might not be overly appealing when you’re young and single, but just remember the earnings potential of starting early. Your future self could be thanking you repeatedly.
3) Take Advantage of the Company Match
While most pensions have gone the way of the typewriter, there are still some companies that offer a match if you contribute to the company 401(k). A common type of employer contribution is a $0.50 match on every dollar contributed by the employee, often up to 6% of the employee’s pay (meaning, the company will match up to 3% of salary). Another popular employer contribution plan is a dollar-for-dollar match up to a certain percent of salary. Check the terms of your 401(k) benefits offering and consider taking advantage of company matching.
4) Diversify Your Investments
Saving for retirement doesn’t have to be boring. Since a 401(k) may not be enough to support your financial situation in retirement, you can consider putting extra after-tax dollars into investments that peak your interests such as real estate, business equity, or making contributions to other tax-advantaged accounts like traditional and Roth IRAs. Perhaps gather up a few friends or siblings for a friendly investment competition to see who has the best eye for wealth management. The more actively engaged one is with investing, the more fun and rewarding it can be. For example, you can create your own social circle on Motif Investing and participate in many exciting conversations on the different ways to invest.
5) Seek Advantages for Being Single
While there are some disadvantages to being single, there are a few advantages that can be found as well. For example, if you are divorced or widowed, you may still be eligible to receive your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefit each month, provided you meet the necessary requirements.
Next, if you have quite a lot of money tied up in a traditional IRA, you may consider you to move that money (in small increments) into a Roth IRA. Be aware that converting a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA can have tax impacts. Essentially one front loads taxes due during a conversion. Converting in small increments may help one avoid being pushed into a higher tax bracket. Before doing a conversion, check with your tax advisor to see how such a transaction could impact your situation.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your earnings were under $30,000 in 2014 (or $30,500 for 2015), you could qualify for the Saver’s Credit program where the government will credit you up to 50% of your retirement plan or IRA contributions for that year. In other words, if you earn very little, but are still able to put $2,000 into your retirement fund, the government will actually pay you up to $1,000 for doing so. It is an excellent program that very few people know about and even fewer utilize. You should refer to IRS Publication 590 regarding the rules and restrictions regarding your IRA’s and see a tax advisor regarding your unique situation.
6) Delay Your Social Security Benefit
If the small size of your retirement fund concerns you, consider working long enough to get your full Social Security benefit (currently set at 66 years of age). By working until you’re 66, you can earn 100% of a benefit instead of just 75% at age 62. The urge to begin withdrawing Social Security money at the earliest age may be tempting. But with life expectancies increasing (one of the main reasons why Social Security is underfunded), you may want to consider delaying your social security benefits for as long as possible.
LIVE SINGLE AND LIVE WELL
Retiring well as a single individual can sometimes be difficult, but it is certainly possible. Review the steps above and take action to turn your retirement into everything you dreamed it would be. Set goals, invest consistently for the future, have some fun, learn along the way, and live well.
Motif Investing offers an assortment of investment products and services to help you invest for your future. Discover your investing DNA and select motifs that suit your investment needs and time horizon as you build your retirement portfolio.
Motif Investing also offers no fee Traditional IRA, Roth IRA and Rollover IRA retirement accounts. Get started today.
The examples provided above are for informational purposes only and are not invested to be suggesting of investing strategies that might be right for you. Motif Investing does not offer any tax, legal, or estate planning advice. Before making investment decision that could impact your tax and estate planning strategies, you should contact your tax, estate planning, and legal advisors.