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Building a Nest Egg in 5 Steps

A nest egg can help you save for future goals, such as buying a home or for your retirement. Building a nest egg is an important part of a financial strategy, as it can help you cover important costs or allow you to become financially secure.

A financial nest egg requires some planning and commitment. In general, the sooner you start building a nest egg, the better.

What Is a Nest Egg?

So what is a nest egg exactly? A financial nest egg is a large amount of money that someone saves and/or invests to meet a certain financial goal. Usually, a nest egg focuses on longer-term goals such as saving for retirement, paying for a child’s college education, or buying a home.

A nest egg could also help you handle emergency costs — such as medical bills, pricey home fixes, or car repairs. There is no one answer for what a nest egg should be used for, as it depends on each person’s unique aims and circumstances.

💡 Quick Tip: Before opening any investment account, consider what level of risk you are comfortable with. If you’re not sure, start with more conservative investments, and then adjust your portfolio as you learn more.

Understanding How a Nest Egg Works

There are a few things to know about how to successfully build a nest egg.

•   You have to have a plan. Unlike saving for short-term goals, building a nest egg takes time and you need a strategy. A common technique is to save a certain amount each month or each week.

•   You need to save your savings. This may sound obvious, but in order to save money every week or month, you have to put it in a savings or investment account of some sort. If you “save” the money in your checking account, you may end up spending your savings.

•   Don’t touch your nest egg. The flip side of that equation is about spending: In order for your nest egg to grow and for you to reach your savings goals by a certain age, you have to make it untouchable. When saving a nest egg, you have to keep your saved money out of reach and protect it.

How Much Money Should Be in Your Nest Egg?

There is no one correct and specific amount a nest egg should be. The amount is different for each person, depending on their needs. It also depends on what you’re using your nest egg for. If you’re using it to buy a house, for instance, you’ll likely need less than if you are using your nest egg for retirement.

As a general rule, some financial advisers suggest saving 80% of your annual income for retirement. However, the amount is different for each person, depending on the type of lifestyle they want to have in retirement. For instance, someone who wants to travel a lot may want to save 90% or more of their annual income.

A retirement calculator can help you determine if you’re on track to reach your retirement goals.

What Are Nest Eggs Used for?

As mentioned, nest eggs are often used for future financial goals, such as retirement, a child’s education, or buying a house.

A nest egg can also be used for emergency costs, such as expensive home repairs, medical bills, or car repairs.

💡 Recommended: Retirement Planning: Guide to Financially Preparing for Retirement

5 Steps to Building a Nest Egg

1. Set a SMART Financial Goal

The SMART goal technique is a popular method for setting goals, including financial ones. The SMART technique calls for goals to be (S)pecific, (M)easurable, (A)chievable, (R)elevant, and (T)ime bound.

With this approach, it’s not enough just to say, “I want to learn how to build a nest egg for emergencies.” The SMART goal technique requires you to walk through each step:

•   Be Specific: How much money is needed for an emergency? One rule of thumb is to save at least three months worth of living expenses, in case of a crisis like an illness or layoff. But you also approach it from another angle: Maybe you just want $1,800 in the bank for car and home repairs.

•   Make it Measurable and Achievable: Once you decide on the amount that’s your target goal, you can figure out exactly how to build a nest egg that will support that goal. If you want to save money from your salary, such as $1,800, you’d set aside $200 per month for nine months — or $100 per month for 18 months. Be sure to create a roadmap that’s measurable and doable for you.

Last, keeping your goal Relevant and Time-bound is a part of the first three steps, but it also entails something further: You must keep your goal a priority. And you must stick to your timeframe in order to reach it.

For example, if you commit to saving $200 per month for nine months in order to have an emergency fund of $1,800, that means you can’t suddenly earmark that $200 for something else.

2. Create a Budget

It’s vital to have a plan in order to create a nest egg — for the simple reason that saving a larger amount of money takes time and focus. A budget is an excellent tool for helping you save the amount you need steadily over time. But a budget only works if you can live with it.

There are numerous methods to manage how you spend and save, so find one that suits you as you build up your nest egg. There’s the 50-30-20 plan, the envelope method, the zero-based budget, etc. There are also apps that can help you budget.

Fortunately, testing budgets is fairly easy. And you’ll quickly sense which methods are easiest for you.

3. Pay Off Debt

Debt can be a major roadblock in building a nest egg, especially if it’s high-interest debt. Those who are struggling to pay down debt may not be able to put as much money into savings as they would like. Prioritizing paying down debt quickly can help save money on interest and reduce financial stress. Adding debt payments into a monthly budget can be one smart way to make sure a debt repayment plan stays on track.

If you’re having trouble paying down a certain debt, like a credit card or medical bill, it might be worth calling the lender. In some cases, lenders may work with an individual to create a manageable debt repayment plan. Calling the lender before the debt is sent to a debt collector is key, as many debt collectors don’t accept payment plans.

Debt Repayment Strategies

Here are two popular debt repayment strategies that might be worth researching: the avalanche method and the snowball method.

The avalanche method focuses on paying off the debt with the highest interest rate as fast as possible, because the interest is costing you the most. This method can save the most money in the long run.

The other option is the snowball method, which can be more motivating as it focuses on paying off the smallest debt first while making minimum payments on all other debts. When one debt is paid off, you take the payment that went toward that debt and add it to the next-smallest one “snowballing” as you go.

This method can be more psychologically motivating, as it’s easier and faster to eliminate smaller debts first, but it can cost more in interest over time, especially if the larger debts have higher interest rates.

4. Make Saving Automatic

Behavioral research is pretty clear: The people who are the most successful savers don’t mess around. They put their savings on auto-pilot, by setting up automatic transfers based on their goal.

Behavior scientists have identified simple inertia as a big culprit in why we don’t save. Inertia is the human tendency to do nothing, despite having a plan to take specific actions. One of the most effective ways to get around inertia, especially when it comes to your finances, is to make savings automatic.

Set up automatic transfers to your savings account online every week, or every month. While you’re at it, set up automatic payments to the debts you owe. Don’t assume you can make progress with good intentions alone. Technology is your friend, so use it!

5. Start Investing in Your Nest Egg

The same is true of investing. Investing can be intimidating at first. Combine that with inertia, and it can be hard to get yourself off the starting block. Also, you may wonder whether it makes sense to invest your savings, when investing always comes with a possible risk of loss (in addition to potential gains).

You may want to keep short-term savings in a regular savings or money market account — or in a CD (certificate of deposit), if you want a modest rate of interest and truly don’t plan to touch that money for a certain period of time. But for longer-term savings, especially retirement, you can consider investing your money in the market. SoFi’s automated investing can help you set up a portfolio to match your goals.

You can also set up a brokerage account and start investing yourself. Whichever route you choose, be sure to make the contributions automatic. Investing your money on a regular cadence helps your money to grow because regular contributions add up.

The Power of Compounding Interest

When saving money to build a nest egg in certain savings vehicles, such as a high-yield savings account or a money market account, compound interest can be a major growth factor. Put simply, compound interest is interest that you earn on interest.

Here’s how it works: Compound interest is earned on the initial principal in a savings vehicle and the interest that accrues on that principal. So, for instance, if you have $500 in a high-yield savings account and you earn $5 interest on that amount, the $5 is added to the principal and you then earn interest on the new, bigger amount. Compound interest can help your savings grow.

With investments, compound returns work in a similar manner. Compounding returns are the earnings you regularly receive from contributions you’ve made to an investment.

Compound returns can be achieved by any type of asset class that produces returns on both the initial amount — or the principal — as well as any profits or returns that are generated after the initial investment. Some investment types that earn compound interest are stocks and mutual funds.

💡 Quick Tip: Are self-directed brokerage accounts cost efficient? They can be, because they offer the convenience of being able to buy stocks online without using a traditional full-service broker (and the typical broker fees).

Why Having a Nest Egg Is Important

A financial nest egg can help you save for retirement and/or achieve certain financial goals, such as paying for your child’s education. By building a nest egg as early as you can, ideally starting in your 20s or 30s, and contributing to it regularly, the more time your money will have to grow and weather any market downturns. For instance, if you start investing in your nest egg at age 25, and you retire at age 65, your money will have 40 years to accumulate.

Investing in Your Nest Egg With SoFi

Like most financial decisions, building a nest egg starts with articulating goals and then creating a specific plan of action to reach them. Using a method like the SMART goal technique, it’s possible to build a nest egg for retirement, to buy a home, pay for a child’s education, or other life goals.

Because a nest egg is typically a larger amount of money than you’d save for a short-term goal, it’s wise to use some kind of budgeting system, tool, or app to help you make progress. Perhaps the most important ingredient in building a nest egg is using the power of automation. Use automatic deposits and transfers to help you save, pay off debt, and even to start investing.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).


Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

What is a financial nest egg?

A financial nest egg is a substantial amount of money you save or invest to meet a certain financial goal. A nest egg typically focuses on future milestones, such as retirement, paying for a child’s college education, or buying a home.

How much money is a nest egg?

There is no one specific amount of money a nest egg should be. The amount is different for each person, depending on their needs and what they’re using the nest egg for. For instance, if a nest egg is for retirement, some financial advisers suggest saving at least 80% percent of your annual income.

Why is it important to have a nest egg?

A nest egg allows you to save a substantial amount of money for retirement or to pay for your child’s education, for instance. By starting to build a nest egg as early as you can, the more time your money has to grow.


Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Top 10 Part-Time Jobs for Seniors in 2024

Whether you want to earn extra income to make ends meet or stay engaged with the community, there are plenty of reasons why you may decide to seek out part-time employment after you leave the workforce. And because these jobs don’t require 40 hours a week, you still have plenty of time to enjoy the retirement experience.

10 Part-Time Jobs for Seniors

Maybe your ideal part-time job allows you to work from home. Or perhaps you’re looking for a side hustle that keeps you moving for most of the day. Whatever your needs are, there are plenty of employment options to explore. Here are 10 to consider.

#1: Dog Sitter and Walker

Many people brought dogs home during the pandemic — and many of them need help with their companions while they work or when they go out of town. If you’re an animal lover and understand basic pet first aid, offering your services as a dog sitter and walker allows you to care for man’s best friend while also earning cash to help cover retirement expenses.

•   General duties: Main duties generally include feeding, walking, and overseeing the care of the dogs. If you’re pet sitting, you might care for them in your home, stay in the client’s home, or check in on the pooches throughout the day.

•   Average pay: A dog walker charges an average of $17 per hour, while a pet sitter charges around $15 per hour. However, rates vary by location and the services offered.

#2: Office Manager

Know how to make the workplace run smoothly? An office manager job may be right up your alley. Note that these jobs can sometimes be competitive, so you may want to contact former employers to see if there are part-time positions available. Or consider expanding your search to include a variety of industries. After all, the skills that the job requires — organization, time management, attention to details, problem-solving, communication — are essential no matter what type of office you’re in.

•   General duties: These can vary by location but typically consist of coordinating administrative activities in an efficient and cost-effective way.

•   Average pay: A typical office manager makes around $24 an hour.

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#3: Content Writer

If you have the writing chops, you may be able to find opportunities to hone your craft and earn some money. In fact, companies across the country need outstanding writers to create their content, so this could be an excellent choice for introverts looking for remote work.

•   General duties: You may write content for companies to help them market themselves to potential customers or decision-makers. If you have technical skills — perhaps knowing about search engine optimization or photo editing — all the better!

•   Average pay: A content writer typically charges around $37 per hour, though some prefer to charge a flat rate for each piece of content they create.

#4: Private Tutor

When it comes to retiree-friendly jobs, it’s tough to beat private tutoring. For starters, you have the option to tutor in person or over a video platform. It’s also a chance to help students with a subject you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. Plus, private tutoring can be a low-stress way to earn money.

•   General duties: A private tutor provides one-on-one assistance to help one or more students learn and finish school assignments. This can involve studying the student’s textbooks or other materials and answering their questions on the subject matter.

•   Average pay: Private tutors generally charge an average of $27 per hour, though that rate can vary by location and expertise.


💡 Quick Tip: Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure there are no errors that can damage your credit score.

#5: Retail Sales Worker

If you enjoy engaging with people and helping them to find what they need, there are numerous retail sales positions to consider. Do you love fashion? Look for jobs where you sell clothing and accessories. Interested in technology? You might be ideal in shops that sell computers, tablets, cell phones, and so forth.

•   General duties: You’ll answer customer questions, provide courteous service, and accept payments for transactions. You may also stock shelves and tidy up your area.

•   Average pay: On average, retail sales workers earn around $16 per hour.

#6: Receptionist

If your idea of retirement planning involves finding easy part-time jobs for seniors— easy on the feet, that is — and you enjoy talking to people, then a receptionist position could be the ticket. If you don’t mind working weekends, you may want to consider a position in a hospital, nursing home, or similar facility.

•   General duties: Receptionists often greet customers or patients and help them register, if necessary. They also answer phones and offer general guidance to people who contact the organization.

•   Average pay: Although pay can vary by the type of organization and the state where you live, figure an average of $18 an hour.

#7: Groundskeeper

Many of the part-time jobs for seniors on this list take place indoors. But if you appreciate spending time outdoors, you might enjoy being a groundskeeper. Note that depending on where you live, this could be a seasonal position, so you may need to adjust your budget accordingly.

•   General duties: Groundskeepers generally mow lawns, edge, pull weeds, and plant and care for flowers.

•   Average pay: The national average is $20 an hour for groundskeeping services.

#8: School Bus Driver

A school bus driver may seem like a surprising job for seniors, but the majority of part-time bus drivers are in fact over the age of 55. To get accepted for this job, you’ll need to have or get a commercial driver’s license, a clean driving record and background, and (probably) plenty of patience.

•   General duties: In the mornings, you’ll pick up students from bus stops or homes and drive them to school. Later in the day, you’ll drop them back off. You’ll also need to manage student behavior on the bus.

•   Average pay: School bus drivers earn around $20 an hour on average.

#9: Consulting

There are pros and cons of working after retirement, but one benefit is the ability to share your expertise and skills with others. A consulting gig can provide such an opportunity. By the time you reach 65, you’ve likely gained plenty of knowledge that you can impart to business leaders in your field. Plus, as a consultant, you can have a decent amount of control over your when and how much you work.

•   General duties: You’ll analyze a situation from an outsider’s perspective, looking for inefficiencies and providing guidance based on your expertise. Typically, consulting is a contract-based position that could continue until a situation has been addressed.

•   Average pay: The range for consulting work can largely depend upon your background and expertise. Sometimes, you might charge per project.

#10: Customer Support Representative

Whether your cable conked out or your income tax software hit a glitch, you’ve almost certainly reached out for customer support for help in times of need. If you’re a strong communicator and enjoy helping others, you may want to consider serving as a customer support representative yourself.

•   General duties: You’ll receive phone calls or chat messages from a customer in need of a fix. You can help them solve the problems, create tickets for others to address, and offer outstanding customer service to keep people satisfied.

•   Average pay: This position typically pays around $23 an hour.

💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed with a money tracker app.

The Takeaway

After you retire, you might be looking for a low-cost side hustle that can help bring in some income and keep you active. Fortunately, when it comes to part-time jobs for seniors, there’s no shortage of options to explore. As you review potential positions, consider your work experience, skill set, interests, how much time you plan on working, and how much money you could potentially earn.

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.

FAQ

Can seniors still work part time and receive Social Security benefits?

According to the Social Security Administration, once you reach the full retirement age, what you earn will no longer reduce your benefits — no matter the amount. As of 2023, if you’re below the full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will deduct $1 out of every $2 you earn above the amount of $21,240.

What skills and experience are needed for a part-time job as a senior?

Required skills will vary widely based on the position. If you’re applying to be an administrative assistant, for example, it’s important to be organized and capable of managing a variety of tasks in a professional way. Being a nanny, on the other hand, requires strong communication skills with parents and children alike. When you’re looking at job ads, check the requirements listed and see how closely they match your experiences and skills.

How many hours a week should seniors work part time?

There’s no one-size-fits-all number of hours a senior should work each week. They’ll want to consider a number of factors to determine the appropriate workload for them, including how much income they need, how much free time they have, and how much they’re able to earn and still receive Social Security benefits.


Photo credit: iStock/Pranithan Chorruangsak

*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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Top 12 Jobs for Skilled Seniors That Pay Well in 2024

For a growing number of Americans, turning 65 no longer automatically means retirement. As of May 2022, 21.9% of Americans 65 and older were working, compared with 19.5% in May 2020, according to a survey conducted by MagnifyMoney.

If you want to keep up the 9 to 5 into your golden years, there’s a wide range of options for you to explore. This is especially true if you’re a skilled senior interested in full-time employment.

Tips When Finding a Job as a Senior

There are pros and cons and working after retirement. If returning to the daily grind is right for you and your financial situation, then there are a few things you’ll want to keep top of mind:

•   Weigh the pros and cons of working for a company versus freelancing or consulting.

•   Think about whether you’d prefer to work from home or go into an office or to a job site.

•   Read the job listing carefully, paying close attention to the requirements listed.

•   Remove graduation dates from your resume unless they’re fairly recent.

•   Include a couple of your key accomplishments in a cover letter.

•   During an interview, be sure to strategically share key career highlights from the past 10 to 15 years, and spotlight the ways in which you’ve kept your skills up to date.

•   Move ahead with confidence!

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12 Jobs for Skilled Seniors That Pay Well

Working can help provide seniors with a degree of financial security as well as other benefits, such as connecting with coworkers and creating a sense of purpose. Let’s take a closer look at jobs for skilled seniors that suit a variety of skills and interests.

#1: Teacher

If you have the appropriate credentials, teaching can be a rewarding job. Don’t fret if you don’t have the right credentials — you might still be able to land a position. Many high schools, career centers, and community colleges may be open to hiring experienced people to teach general interest or professional development courses. Educational organizations may also be seeking teaching assistants or tutors, both of which can be excellent jobs for skilled seniors.

#2: Government Worker

Government jobs can offer competitive salaries along with good benefits, often including a nice pension. Even after you stop working at a federal government job, you may be eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Depending on your background, education, and work experience, you may be qualified for roles with the National Institutes of Health, which participates in jobs fairs specifically for workers aged 55 and up; the Peace Corps; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and more.

#3: Tax Preparer

Interested in becoming a tax preparer? If you have an accounting background, then this type of work may be a natural fit. That said, you don’t need to be a certified accountant — you just need to obtain a Preparer Tax Identification Number from the IRS and pass a competency exam.


💡 Quick Tip: Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure there are no errors that can damage your credit score.

#4: Real Estate Agent

You can earn a good income helping people buy and/or sell their home or property. But there’s another selling point to being a real estate agent: the ability to set your own schedule, as long as you can still satisfy your clients. In fact, this flexibility can be useful if you’re deciding whether you want to work part time or full time. Before you start working, you’ll need to get a license, and requirements vary by state.

#5: Bank Teller

You typically only need a high school diploma or the equivalent to qualify for a bank teller’s job, and you may be required to undergo a short period of on-the-job training. In this position, you’d handle the standard transactions at the financial institution. So if you’re comfortable handling a steady flow of cash and enjoy working with customers, this could be a job to consider.

#6: Medical Biller

A medical biller works for a healthcare organization such as a hospital or doctor’s office and is responsible for appropriately billing insurance companies, managing the status of claims, and addressing problems that arise. This is one of those jobs for skilled seniors that require organization and the ability to follow through — in this case, with both patients and the insurance companies.

Recommended: How to Negotiate Medical Bills

#7: Virtual Assistant

Plenty of small businesses in the United States need help with daily administration tasks. Depending on your skills, virtual tasks could include making phone calls, managing emails, scheduling appointments, maintaining calendars, offering bookkeeping services, handling social media, and so forth. Although many virtual assistant jobs are part time, if you wanted more work, you could have multiple clients to whom you provide your services.

#8: Telework Nurse or Doctor

Telehealth services have greatly expanded since the start of the pandemic, and demand for remote healthcare providers remains high. If you’re a recently retired nurse or doctor, and are still licensed, you may want to explore a telehealth position. It could allow you to continue providing care but from the comfort of home (or a home office).

#9: Counselor

Forty-seven percent of Americans live in an area with a shortage of mental health care professionals, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. If you’re a retired counselor or therapist and are interested in working again, re-entering the field could allow you to provide much-needed services.

#10: HVAC Technicians

From installation to maintenance to repairs, HVAC pros can find themselves in great demand all year long. If you have this kind of experience, or are handy and able to incorporate HVAC into your skill sets, then this type of work can be a steady source of income.

Recommended: What Is the Cost to Replace an HVAC System?

#11: Paralegal

Busy attorneys need plenty of help researching information, creating documentation, and contacting clients. If you have the education and experience — and you’re highly organized and able to multitask — then a paralegal job may be right for you.

#12: Grant Writer

Grant writing is a specialized type of writing where you’d write proposals to help nonprofits and other agencies to obtain funding for their programs. To succeed at grant writing, it’s important to research the requirements and deadlines of the funding, write compelling proposals to receive the grant dollars, follow up with the proposals, and write reports about them.


💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

The Takeaway

Your golden years are what you make of them — and for some, that can mean re-entering the workforce or pursuing a new, rewarding career path. Fortunately, there are plenty of jobs for skilled seniors that suit different skills and interests and provide a source of extra income.

See exactly how your money comes and goes at a glance.

FAQ

Can seniors still work full time and receive Social Security benefits?

According to the Social Security Administration, the answer is “yes.” If you’ve already reached your full retirement age, then you can work and earn as much as possible without a reduction in benefits. If you aren’t yet at full retirement age, then you can earn up to $21,240 in 2023 without a reduction. For income earned beyond that annual limit, your benefits would be lowered by $1 for each $2 earned.

What types of job skills are in high demand?

Management and leadership skills are appreciated by many employees, and these are skills seniors may well have developed over the years. It’s important to be able to effectively communicate, both verbally and in writing, and to work well with others. For many jobs, sales and marketing abilities are key, while in others the ability to research and analyze are crucial. Note that these are general categories. Specific skills will depend upon the job you’re applying for.

What type of work-life balance should working seniors expect?

Maintaining a work-life balance is especially important for working seniors. As you consider re-entering the workforce, you’ll want to consider your physical and mental health as well as your finances, and ensure that whatever job you take on will fit in your lifestyle. As an older adult, you may discover that you don’t have quite as much stamina as you once did. On the other hand, having children out of the home and on their own may open up more time than you expected.


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*Terms and conditions apply. This offer is only available to new SoFi users without existing SoFi accounts. It is non-transferable. One offer per person. To receive the rewards points offer, you must successfully complete setting up Credit Score Monitoring. Rewards points may only be redeemed towards active SoFi accounts, such as your SoFi Checking or Savings account, subject to program terms that may be found here: SoFi Member Rewards Terms and Conditions. SoFi reserves the right to modify or discontinue this offer at any time without notice.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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Rollover IRA vs Traditional IRA: What’s the Difference?

If you’re leaving a job, you may hear the term “rollover IRA.” But exactly what is a rollover IRA? Employees have the option of moving their retirement savings from their employer-sponsored 401(k) plan to an individual retirement account, or IRA, at another financial institution when they leave a job. This IRA, where they transfer their 401(k) savings to, is called a rollover IRA. If the 401(k) plan was not a Roth 401(k), you’ll likely want to open what’s called a traditional IRA.

In this scenario, a rollover IRA is also a traditional IRA. But they aren’t always the same. You can have a traditional IRA that is not a rollover IRA. Read on for the differences worth noting between a rollover IRA and a traditional IRA.

Key Points

•   A rollover IRA is an individual retirement account created with funds rolled over from a qualified retirement plan, like a 401(k), usually when someone leaves a job.

•   A traditional IRA is funded by direct contributions by the account holder, and contributions are tax-deductible up to a cap and subject to eligibility limitations.

•   Directing rollover funds from an employer-sponsored plan to a traditional IRA that holds your direct contributions is called commingling funds, which you may not want to do, especially if you want to transfer the rollover funds to a new employer’s plan.

•   Withdrawals from either type of IRA before age 59.5 are subject to both income taxes and an early withdrawal penalty, except for certain eligible expenses.

•   The IRS requires owners of both types of IRAs to start making withdrawals at age 73 (for people born in 1951 or later); these withdrawals are also called required minimum distributions (RMDs).

Is There a Difference Between a Rollover IRA and a Traditional IRA?

When it comes to a rollover IRA vs. traditional IRA, the only real difference is that the money in a rollover IRA was rolled over from an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Otherwise, the accounts share the same tax rules on withdrawals, required minimum distributions, and conversions to Roth IRAs.

💡 Recommended: Here’s a complete list of retirement plans to compare.

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What Is a Rollover IRA?

A rollover IRA is an individual retirement account created with money that’s being rolled over from a qualified retirement plan. Generally, rollover IRAs happen when someone leaves a job with an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b), and they roll the assets from that plan into a rollover IRA.

In a rollover IRA, like a traditional IRA, your savings grow tax-free until you withdraw the money in retirement. There are several advantages to rolling your employer-sponsored retirement plan into an IRA, vs. into a 401(k) with a new employer:

•   IRAs may charge lower fees than 401(k) providers.

•   IRAs may offer more investment options than an employer-sponsored retirement account.

•   You may be able to consolidate several retirement accounts into one rollover IRA, simplifying management of your investments.

•   IRAs offer the ability to withdraw money early for certain eligible expenses, such as purchasing your first home or paying for higher education. In these cases, while you’ll pay income taxes on the money you withdraw, you won’t owe any early withdrawal penalty.

There are also some rollover IRA rules that may feel like disadvantages to putting your money into an IRA instead of leaving it in an employer-sponsored plan:

•   While you can borrow money from your 401(k) and pay it back over time, you cannot take a loan from an IRA account.

•   Certain investments that were offered in your 401(k) plan may not be available in the IRA account.

•   There may be negative tax implications to rolling over company stock.

•   An IRA requires that you start taking Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) from the account at age 73, even if you’re still working, whereas you may be able to delay your RMDs from an employer-sponsored account if you’re still working.

•   The money in an employer plan is protected from creditors and judgments, whereas the money in an IRA may not be, depending on your state.

Recommended: This guide can help you financially prepare for retirement.

What Is a Traditional IRA?

Now that you know the answer to the question of what is a rollover IRA?, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with a traditional IRA. To understand the difference between a rollover IRA vs. traditional IRA, it helps to know some IRA basics.

From the moment you open a traditional IRA, your contributions to the account are typically tax deductible, so your savings will grow tax-free until you make withdrawals in retirement.

This is advantageous to some retirees: Upon retirement, it’s likely one might be in a lower income tax bracket than when they were employed. Given that, the money they withdraw will be taxed at a lower rate than it would have when they contributed.

A Side-by-Side Comparison of Rollover IRA vs Traditional IRA

  Rollover IRA Traditional IRA
Source of contributions Created by “rolling over” money from another account, most typically an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as 401(k) or 403(b). For the rollover amount, annual contribution limits do not apply. Created by regular contributions to the account, not in excess of the annual contribution limit, although rolled-over money can also be contributed to a traditional IRA.
Contribution limits There is no limit on the funds you roll over from another account. If you’re contributing outside of a rollover, the limit is $6,500 for tax year 2023, plus an additional $1,000 if you’re 50 or older. Up to $6,500 for tax year 2023, plus an additional $1,000 if you’re 50 or older.
Withdrawal rules Withdrawals before age 59 ½ are subject to both income taxes and an early withdrawal penalty (with certain exceptions , like for higher education expenses or the purchase of a first home). Withdrawals before age 59 ½ are subject to both income taxes and an early withdrawal penalty (with certain exceptions , like for higher education expenses or the purchase of a first home).
Required minimum distributions (RMDs) You’re required to withdraw a certain amount of money from this account each year once you reach age 73 (thanks to the SECURE 2.0 Act of 2022). You’re required to withdraw a certain amount of money from this account each year once you reach age 73 (again, thanks to the SECURE 2.0 Act).
Taxes Since contributions are from a pre-tax account, all withdrawals from this account in retirement will be taxed at ordinary income rates. If contributions are tax deductible, all withdrawals from this account in retirement will be taxed at ordinary income rates. (If contributions were non-deductible, you’ll pay taxes on only the earnings in retirement.)
Convertible to a Roth IRA Yes Yes

Can You Contribute to a Rollover IRA?

By now you’re probably wondering, can I contribute to a rollover IRA?, and the answer is yes. You can make contributions to a rollover IRA, up to IRA contribution limits. For tax year 2023, individuals can contribute up to $6,500 (with an additional catch-up contribution of $1,000 if you’re 50 or older). If you do add money to your rollover IRA, however, you may not be able to roll the account into another employer’s retirement plan at a later date.

Can You Combine a Traditional IRA With a Rollover IRA?

A rollover IRA is essentially a traditional IRA that was created when money was rolled into it. Hence, you can combine two IRAs by having a direct transfer done from one account to another, or by rolling money from one IRA to the other IRA.

There’s one important aspect of the transfer or rollover process that will help prevent the money from counting as an early withdrawal or distribution to you—and that’s being timely with any transfers. With an indirect rollover, you typically have 60 days to deposit the money from the now-closed fund into the new one.

A few other key points to remember: As mentioned above, if you add non-rollover money to a rollover account, you may lose the ability to roll funds into a future employer’s retirement plan. Also keep in mind that there’s a limit of one rollover between IRAs in any 12-month period. This is strictly an IRA-to-IRA limit and does not apply to rollovers from a retirement plan to an IRA.

How to Open a Traditional or Rollover IRA Account

Opening a traditional IRA and a rollover IRA are identical processes — the only difference is the funding. Open a traditional or rollover IRA by doing the following:

•   Decide where to open your IRA. For instance, you can choose an online brokerage firm where you can choose your own investments, or you can select a robo-advisor that will offer automated suggestions based on your answers to a few basic investing questions. (There’s a small fee associated with most robo-advisors.)

•   Open an account. From the provider’s website, select the type of IRA you’d like to open — traditional or rollover, in this case — and provide a few pieces of personal information. You’ll likely need to supply your date of birth, Social Security number, and contact and employment information.

•   Fund the account. You can fund the account with a direct contribution via check or a transfer from your bank account, transferring money from another IRA, or rolling over the money from an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Contact your company plan administrator for information on how to do the latter.

The Takeaway

Both a rollover IRA and a traditional IRA allow investors to put money away for retirement in a tax-advantaged way, with very little difference between the two accounts.

One of the primary questions anyone considering a rollover IRA should consider is, will you keep contributing to it? If so, that would prevent you from rolling the rollover IRA back into an employer-sponsored retirement account in the future.

Whether it’s a rollover IRA you’ve created by rolling over an employer-sponsored retirement account or a traditional IRA you’ve opened with regular contributions, either account can play a key role in your retirement game plan.

Ready to invest for your retirement? It’s easy to get started when you open a traditional or Roth IRA with SoFi. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Easily manage your retirement savings with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

Can you take money out of a rollover IRA?

You can, but if you take money from a rollover IRA (or a traditional IRA for that matter) before age 59½, those withdrawals are subject to income tax and an early withdrawal penalty of 10%. There are certain exceptions, however. If you withdraw the money for certain higher education expenses or to buy your first home, for example, the penalty may not apply.

Why would you rollover an IRA?

A rollover is when you move money between two different types of retirement plans. Typically, you might roll over an IRA if you leave a job with an employer-sponsored plan, such as a 401(k) or 403(b). You would roll the assets from that plan into a rollover IRA where your savings grow tax-free until you withdraw the money in retirement. You could instead choose to leave the money in your former employer’s plan, if that’s allowed, or roll it over into your new employer’s 401(k) or 403(b) plan, if they have one. However, a rollover IRA may offer you more investment choices and lower fees and costs than an employer-sponsored plan.

Can I roll over assets into my traditional IRA?

Yes, rolled over money can be contributed to a traditional IRA. It’s also worth noting that you can also combine a traditional IRA and a rollover IRA. You can do this with a direct transfer from one account to another, or by rolling money from one IRA to another, for instance. Just keep in mind that there is a limit of one rollover between IRAs in any 12-month period.


SoFi Invest®

INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE

SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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What Is the Average Retirement Age?

The average retirement age in the US is age 65 for men and age 62 for women, but those numbers don’t reveal the extremely wide range of ages at which people can and do retire.

Some people retire in their 50s, some in their 70s; some people find ways to keep pursuing their profession and thus never completely “retire” from the workforce. The age at which someone retires depends on a host of factors, including how much they’ve saved, their overall state of health, and their desire to keep working versus taking on other commitments.

Still, having some idea of the average age of retirement can be helpful as a general benchmark for your own retirement plans.

What Is the Average Age of Retirement in the US?

Overall, the average retirement age in the U.S. is 64.

Age 65 may be what most of us think of as the best age to retire, but not all regions of America are hitting this goal. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the average U.S. retirement age in:

•   Hawaii, Massachusetts, and South Dakota is 66.

•   Washington, D.C., is 67.

•   Residents of Alaska and West Virginia it’s 61.

A lower cost of living may be what’s helping West Virginia residents retire so young. West Virginia was one of the 10 most states in the country with the lowest costs of living, according to a 2023 study by Consumer Affairs.

Recommended: Cost of Living by State

While those previously mentioned states give a look at two ends of the average retirement age spectrum in the United States, many states have an average retirement age that falls closer to what one might expect.

Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia all have an average retirement age of 65.

Boost your retirement contributions with a 1% match.

SoFi IRAs now get a 1% match on every dollar you deposit, up to the annual contribution limits. Open an account today and get started.


Only offers made via ACH are eligible for the match. ACATs, wires, and rollovers are not included.

Expectations vs Reality

Expectations can lead to disappointment. Any kid with an overly ambitious wishlist for Santa Claus knows that.

Now imagine a person spending most of their adult life expecting to retire at 65 and then realizing their retirement savings just isn’t enough. Ideally, that won’t happen, but it has happened to many.

According to The Employee Benefit Research Institute’s Retirement Confidence Survey Summary Report, the expected average age of retirement in 2023 was 65. However, as noted previously, the Census places the average retirement age in the US at 64. Retiring earlier than planned could lead to not having enough money to retire comfortably.

How to Know When to Retire

Not everyone retires early by choice. More than four in 10 people retired earlier than they expected, mostly because of health problems, disabilities, or changes within their organizations.

It can be difficult for workers to exactly predict at what age they will retire due to circumstances that may be out of their control.

In order to bridge any financial gap caused by not having enough retirement savings, 51% of pre-retirees expect they will earn an income during their retirement by working either full time or part time.

While the survey found that respondents are aware of what they need their retirement savings to look like, there is a gap between their expectations and their actions.

Seventy-nine percent of pre-retirees reported that they agree they should be doing more to prepare for their retirement. However, only 48% reported having a strong retirement plan in place, with 19% of Gen Xers and 31% of millennials admitting to not saving for retirement at all.

A lack of awareness seems to be leading to a lack of preparedness: 25% of pre-retirees surveyed said they aren’t sure how much money they are currently saving for retirement.


💡 Quick Tip: Before opening any investment account, consider what level of risk you are comfortable with. If you’re not sure, start with more conservative investments, and then adjust your portfolio as you learn more.

How Much You Should Have Saved for Retirement?

To retire comfortably, the IRS recommends that individuals have up to 80% of their current annual income saved for each year of retirement. With the average Social Security monthly payment being $1,177, retirees may need to do a decent amount of saving to cover the rest of their future expenses.

This is something to keep in mind when choosing a retirement date.

It’s Never Too Early to Start Saving for Retirement

Retirement can last 30 years or more. As lovely as that sounds, financial security is key to enjoying a relaxing retirement.

Any day is a good day to start saving, but saving for retirement while a person is young could help put them on the path toward a more secure retirement. The more years their savings have to grow, the better.

“A very helpful habit,” explains Brian Walsh, CFP® at SoFi, “Is truly automating what you need to do. Recurring contributions. Saving towards your goals. Automatically increasing those contributions. That way you can save now and save even more in the future.”

The Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that for every 10 years a person waits to begin saving for retirement, they will have to save three times as much every month to play catch-up.

3 Steps to Start Preparing for Retirement

It’s not enough to have an idea of the best time to retire. To really reach that goal, it’s important to have a financial plan in place. These steps break down how to prepare for retirement.

Step 1: Estimate how much money you’ll need

One of the first steps a person could take toward their retirement saving journey is to estimate how much money they need to save. There is a retirement savings formula that can help you estimate: Start with your current income, subtract your estimated Social Security benefits, and divide by 0.04. That’s the target number of retirement savings per year you’ll need.

Step 2: Set up retirement saving goals

It might be worth considering what retirement savings plans are available, whether that is an employer-sponsored 401(k), an IRA, or a simple savings account. Contributing regularly is key, even if big contributions can’t be made to retirement savings right now.

Making small additions to savings can add up, especially if extra money from finishing car payments, getting a holiday bonus, or earning a raise can be diverted to a retirement savings account.

If an employer offers a 401(k) match, it might be beneficial to take advantage of that feature and contribute as much as the employer is willing to match.

Along with receiving free money from an employer, there are also tax benefits of contributing to a 401(k). Contributions to a 401(k) happen pre-tax — that lowers taxable income, which means paying less in income taxes on each paycheck.

In addition, 401(k) contributions aren’t taxed when deposited, but they are taxed upon withdrawal. Withdrawing money early, before age 59 ½, also adds a 10% penalty.

Step 3: Open a Retirement Account

If access to an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan isn’t available — or even if it is — investors might want to consider opening an IRA account. For investors who need a little help sticking to a retirement savings plan, they could consider setting up an automatic monthly deposit from a checking or savings account into an IRA.

In 2023, IRAs allow investors to put up to $6,500 a year into their account ($7,500 if they’re older than 50). There are two options for opening an IRA — a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, both of which have different tax advantages.

Traditional IRA

Any contributions made to a traditional IRA can be either fully or partially tax-deductible, and typically, earnings and gains of an IRA aren’t taxed until distribution.

Roth IRA

For Roth IRAs, earnings are not taxable once distributed if they are “qualified”—which means they meet certain requirements for an untaxed distribution.

Late to the Retirement Savings Game?

Starting to save for retirement late is better than not starting at all. In fact, the government allows catch-up contributions for those over the age of 50. Catch-up contributions of up to $7,500 in 2023 are allowed on a 401(k), 403(b), SARSEP, or governmental 457(b).

A catch-up contribution is a contribution to a retirement savings account that is made beyond the regular contribution maximum. Catch-up contributions can be made on either a pre-tax or after-tax basis.

As retirement gets closer, future retirees can plan their savings around their estimated Social Security payments. The official Retirement Estimator tool provided by the U.S. Social Security office could help by basing the estimate on an individual’s actual Social Security earnings record.

While this estimate is not a guarantee, it might give a retiree — or anyone planning when to retire — an idea of how much they might consider saving to supplement these earnings.

Social Security benefits can begin at age 62, which is considered the Social Security retirement age minimum. However, full benefits won’t be earned until full retirement age, which is 65 to 67 years old, depending on birth year.

Ready to invest in your goals? It’s easy to get started when you open an investment account with SoFi Invest. You can invest in stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, alternative funds, and more. SoFi doesn’t charge commissions, but other fees apply (full fee disclosure here).

Invest with as little as $5 with a SoFi Active Investing account.

FAQ

Does the average retirement age matter?

The age at which you retire affects your Social Security benefit. For instance, if you retire at age 62, your benefit will be about 30% lower than if you wait until age 67.

What is the full retirement age for Social Security?

The full age of retirement is 67 for anyone born in 1960 or later. Before that, the full retirement age is 66 for those born from 1943 to 1954. And for those born between 1955 to 1959, the age increases gradually to 67.

How long will my retirement savings last?

One strategy you could use to help determine how long your retirement savings might last is the 4% rule. The idea behind the rule is that you withdraw 4% of your retirement savings during your first year of retirement, then adjust the amount each year after that for inflation. By doing this, ideally, your money could last for about 30 years in retirement. However, your personal circumstances and market fluctuations may affect this number, which means it could vary. It’s best to use the 4% rule only as a general guideline.


SoFi Invest®

INVESTMENTS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED • ARE NOT BANK GUARANTEED • MAY LOSE VALUE

SoFi Invest encompasses two distinct companies, with various products and services offered to investors as described below: Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of these platforms.
1) Automated Investing and advisory services are provided by SoFi Wealth LLC, an SEC-registered investment adviser (“SoFi Wealth“). Brokerage services are provided to SoFi Wealth LLC by SoFi Securities LLC.
2) Active Investing and brokerage services are provided by SoFi Securities LLC, Member FINRA (www.finra.org)/SIPC(www.sipc.org). Clearing and custody of all securities are provided by APEX Clearing Corporation.
For additional disclosures related to the SoFi Invest platforms described above please visit SoFi.com/legal.
Neither the Investment Advisor Representatives of SoFi Wealth, nor the Registered Representatives of SoFi Securities are compensated for the sale of any product or service sold through any SoFi Invest platform.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third-party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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