Savings

In your 40s with no retirement savings? Here’s what to do.

It is not uncommon for young workers to neglect their retirement savings. After all, many people spend most of their twenties paying off student loans and saving for a home. And they spend their 30s struggling with childcare costs and the ever-increasing cost of raising children.

As such, if you’re entering your 40s with no retirement savings money, you’re undoubtedly in good company. But it’s also time to get serious about building a nest egg.

The good news is that you could, in theory, still have several decades in the job market ahead of you. But it’s worth making these three smart moves if you’re halfway through your career with no money in your 401(k) or IRA.

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1. Choose a major expense to cut

If you have a family and community ties, it may not be advisable to sell your home and move to a less expensive neighborhood. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce another major expense.

It might be possible, for example, to switch from a two-car household to a one-car household. And unloading a car could free up thousands of dollars each year for your nest egg.

If that’s not feasible, look at other significant costs you can play around with. If your family typically takes a $6,000 annual vacation, skip it this year and use that money to maximize your IRA ($6,000 is the annual contribution limit for workers under 50).

These types of sacrifices are not easy. But if you don’t, you may have to make even harder sacrifices during retirement.

2. Increase your income with a second job

The gig economy is booming these days, which means there are plenty of opportunities to find work that you can do in addition to your main job. If you’re juggling a career and a family, it might not be easy. But it is still necessary. And you might find it’s easier to take on a second job and increase your income than having to cut expenses at this point in your life.

3. Invest aggressively

You may be a naturally capricious investor who would prefer to stay away from stocks. But if you’re currently trying to catch up with your retirement savings, now is not the time to be too conservative.

While stocks are much more volatile than more stable investments like obligations, they also tend to offer higher returns. And topping up inventory could help you catch up on lost time if you’re behind on building up your nest egg.

If you’re worried about not having the knowledge to choose the right investments for your portfolio, there’s a simple solution: index funds. Buying these gives you instant diversification without all the guesswork. And if you’re nervous about owning stocks, you might feel safer investing your money in the broader market rather than taking your chances with a few specific companies.

It is not too late

The longer you allow your nest egg to grow, the more likely you are to accumulate retirement wealth. But that doesn’t mean all is lost if you’ve hit your 40s with no retirement savings.

Rather than worrying about the time you’ve wasted, focus on what you can do to improve your long-term financial prospects. If you make an effort to put more money into your savings and invest strategically, you may find that you end up with plenty of money to fund your dream retirement.

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