At What Age Should You File for Social Security? 62 vs 65 vs 67?

At What Age Should You File for Social Security? 62 vs 65 vs 67?

Deciding when to apply for Social Security can be a complicated math problem, one that has a different answer for each person depending on their circumstances. The earlier you file, the lower your benefit amount, but the more payments you receive over time. The later you file, the higher the benefit, but the fewer payments you receive. If you have other income, the portion of your benefit could be taxed — up to 85%. And if you’re married, you may be able to stagger your individual Social Security retirement benefit applications for an optimal financial outcome.

Generally speaking, the main constant in this math problem is a person’s expected Social Security retirement benefit: the amount you would receive if you waited until full retirement age to claim your benefit. By creating an account at SSA.gov , you can see what your benefit is projected to be at each age from 62 on. But there are many other factors to consider when choosing your retirement date.

At What Age Can You Apply for Social Security

Here, you’ll learn more about selecting the right age to apply for Social Security, whether that’s 62 or older.

Applying for Social Security at Age 62

The earliest most people can apply for Social Security is age 62. The greater the difference between when you apply and when you reach full retirement age, the more the Social Security Administration will reduce the amount of your benefit. For those born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67. Taking retirement at 62 will cause your benefit to be reduced by about 30%.

If your benefit at full retirement would be $1,000 a month, and you file for benefits at 62, you will only receive about $700 or 70% of the amount you would have received at full retirement. For each month you wait past the age of 62, that amount rises a little bit. At $700 a month, if you lived to the average U.S. lifespan of about 80 years old, you would receive $151,200 over your lifetime.

Applying for Social Security at Age 65

Many people don’t want to wait for their full retirement age. In fact, the average retirement age is 64. If you were born after 1960 and you retire at 65, you can expect to receive 86.7% of your full retirement benefit. The Social Security Retirement Age Calculator shows when to apply for Social Security for maximum benefit with minimum waiting.

Applying for Social Security at Age 67

If you wait to apply for benefits until full retirement, you will get the full amount of your benefit. In the example used above, that would be $1,000 a month. In this scenario, if you live to age 80, you would receive $156,000 over your lifetime, which is $5,000 more than if you filed five years earlier.

Applying for Social Security at Age 70

Every month you delay applying for benefits causes the monthly benefit amount to grow, up until age 70. If you file at age 70, your monthly Social Security retirement payment is 30% higher than it would have been if you filed at full retirement. Rather than receiving $1,000 a month you would receive about $1,300 a month. If you live to age 80, that comes to $156,000 which is the same total amount you would receive if you filed at full retirement age. This brings into the equation one of the factors that influences at what age you may want to file for Social Security benefits: how long you expect to live.

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Other Factors That Drive When To Apply For Social Security

Now, here’s what you need to consider in terms of the other factors that impact when you apply for Social Security benefits.

How Long Will You Live?

Of course, no one knows for certain how long they will live. The Social Security Administration has a rather sobering life expectancy calculator that shows at what age a person born on your birthday can expect to die, on average. It’s based on your birthdate and doesn’t factor in health, genetics, or lifestyle. If you expect to live only to age 75, for example, you might be inclined to take your Social Security benefit early so that you could enjoy it for a longer time. But if you live until age 90, taking Social Security retirement benefits early could cost you a lot of money. Here’s how your lifetime benefit would be impacted by filing at different ages if your full retirement benefit is $1,000 a month:

•   At age 62, you would receive a total of $235,000 over your lifespan.

•   At age 65, you would receive $260,100.

•   At 67 that jumps to $276,000.

•   If you wait until age 70 it is $312,000.

So, if you expect to live a long life, waiting a few years to file could make a big difference in your total benefit.

Are You Married?

There are many myths around Social Security benefits, so it’s important to delve into your particular situation. Spouses are eligible for half of the benefit their spouse would receive at full retirement age. That amount is reduced if the primary beneficiary files early. For instance, if you apply for Social Security benefits before you reach full retirement age, you would automatically be deemed as applying for spousal benefits as well if your spouse is already receiving benefits. The maximum spousal benefit you can qualify for is typically 50% of your partner’s benefits calculated at full retirement age.

One option for spouses is to file for one spouse’s benefit early, say at 62, and postpone filing for the other spouse’s benefit until age 70. This can provide money now and more money later. If one partner dies, the surviving partner is automatically assigned the higher benefit between their own and their late spouse.

Do You Have Other Income?

You may wonder what is a good monthly retirement income for a couple. Keep in mind that the average couple in their 60s and 70s spends around $4,000 a month, or $48,000 a year.

A lot of that is spent on the typical retirement expenses of housing and healthcare. The average retirement benefit in May 2022 was $1,688. So an average couple would receive $3,376 in benefits. Consequently, many people have to rely on other forms of income including wages from a job, pensions, dividends, interest or capital gains in addition to their Social Security benefit. In fact, having access to other forms of income may impact when you can retire.

If you do have income besides your Social Security benefit, and most people do, you might want to delay claiming your benefit. If you earn income from working, and you claim your benefit before full retirement age, your benefit may be reduced. If you have other types of income, such as pensions or interest on the money you’ve saved in your retirement account, your benefit will not be reduced; these don’t count as earnings. However, you may have to pay taxes on it.

The Takeaway

For most people, their Social Security benefit is unlikely to sustain them through their retirement years; they need to have another source of income. The earlier they retire, the smaller their benefit will be and the more they may need a second or third source of income. Gaining that income through wages can reduce your benefit if you retire before full retirement age.

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Can I Retire at 62?

Can You Retire at 62? Should You Retire at 62?

Planning to retire at 62 is worth considering, but whether it’s a realistic goal depends on how much you’ve saved, your anticipated living expenses, and an educated estimate of your likely longevity.

If you choose to retire at 62, which is on the early side these days, it’s important to have a solid retirement strategy in place so that you don’t run out of money.

Should You Retire at 62?

Your answer will depend on your overall financial situation and how much preparation you’ve put into planning for early retirement. Retiring at 62 could make sense if:

•   You have little to no debt

•   Your overall living expenses are low

•   You’ll have multiple streams of income to draw on for retirement (e.g. Social Security as well as an IRA, 401(k), or pension)

•   Don’t anticipate any situations that could hinder your ability to meet your retirement expenses (e.g. medical expenses, dependent family members)

On the other hand, retiring at 62 could backfire if you have limited savings, extensive debt, or you think you might need long-term care later in life, which could substantially drain your nest egg.

Beyond financial considerations, it’s also important to think about how you’ll spend your time in retirement.

You might retire at 62 and find yourself with too much time on your hands, which could lead to boredom or dissatisfaction. While studies have shown that retirement, and in particular early retirement, can improve mental health for some individuals, it may worsen mental health for others.

💡 Recommended: Retirement Planning Guide for Beginners

Retiring at 62 With a Little Bit of Money

There is no single dollar amount that’s recommended for retirees, though financial experts might say that $1 million to $2 million is an optimal goal to aim for. If you haven’t saved close to those amounts, you might be wondering how to retire at 62 with little money.

Defining for you can help you decide if retiring at 62 is realistic. Asking these questions can help you clarify your retirement vision:

•   Will you continue to work in some capacity?

•   How much do you have saved and invested for retirement?

•   Will you take Social Security benefits right away or wait?

•   What does your monthly retirement budget look like?

•   What kind of lifestyle are you hoping to enjoy?

•   How much do you anticipate paying in taxes?

Retiring at 62 with little money could be workable if you plan to relocate to an area with a lower cost-of-living, and cut your expenses. It also helps if you have additional money from Social Security, a pension, or an annuity that you can count on.

Investing for Retirement at 62

The longer you have until retirement, the more time you have to invest and grow your money through the power of compounding interest. If you’re planning to retire at 62, adjusting your strategy to be aggressive might be necessary since you:

•   Have less time save

•   Need the money that you do save to last longer

Save and Invest More Aggressively

Instead of saving 15% of your income for retirement, for instance, you might need to set aside 30% or more to cover your living expenses. And rather than stick with a conservative asset allocation, you may want to lean toward a higher percentage of equities to add growth.

For example, if you plan to stop working completely, you’ll need to weigh the cost of health care until you become eligible for Medicare. You can’t apply for Medicare until the year you turn 65. If you have a health condition that requires regular care, you may need to increase your savings cushion to cover those expenses until you become eligible.

Where to Save Your Money

It’s also important to think about where to keep the money you’re investing for retirement at 62. There are different retirement plans that you can use to invest, starting with a 401(k).

A 401(k) plan is generally a workplace plan that allows for tax-advantaged investing. Contributions are deducted from your taxable income and grow tax-deferred. Once you retire, withdrawals are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate.

You can begin making withdrawals penalty-free at age 59 ½, or potentially earlier if you meet Rule of 55 guidelines. This IRS rule enables you to avoid early withdrawal penalties if you leave your job and withdraw from your 401(k) the year you turn 55.

A 457 plan is another option for saving in the workplace. These plans are offered by state and local governments as well as certain non-profits, and they work similarly to 401(k) plans. Whether you have a 401(k) or 457 retirement account, investing consistently matters if you’re planning to retire at age 62.

The good news is that you can fund a 401(k) or 457 plan automatically through salary deferrals. You can adjust the amount you save each year as you get raises to help you get closer to your goals. And if your employer matches contributions, that’s free money you can use to plan for early retirement.

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Benefits of Investing for Retirement at 62

The chief benefit of investing for retirement at 62 is that you can grow your money faster than you would by saving it.

When you put your money into the market, you can potentially earn higher returns than you would by keeping it in a savings account or a certificate of deposit (CD). The trade-off, of course, is that you’re also taking more risk by investing versus saving.

It’s important to choose a retirement plan that fits your investment goals. With a workplace plan, you’re typically offered a range of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The investments you choose should reflect both your risk tolerance and your risk capacity, meaning how much risk you need to take to reach your financial goals. Take too much risk and you could lose money; take too little risk and your money won’t grow enough to fund an early retirement.

It’s also important to consider the fees you’re paying for those investments. Mutual funds and ETFs have expense ratios, which determine how much it will cost you to own them on a yearly basis. The higher the fees, the more they can eat into your returns.

Considerations for Retirement at 62

So, can you retire at 62? It can be a difficult question to answer if you’re not considering all the factors that affect your decision. If you have early retirement in your sights, then there are several things to weigh.

Health Care

Medicare eligibility doesn’t begin until the year you turn 65. So, you’ll need to consider how you’ll pay for medical care in the interim. You could purchase private insurance or continue COBRA coverage through your former employer, but either option could be expensive.

Long-term care is another consideration. The monthly median cost of long-term care ranges from $1,690 for adult day care to $9,034 for a private room in a nursing facility, according to Genworth. Long-term care insurance can help with some of those costs but if you don’t have this kind of coverage, and you or your spouse requires this type of care, it could eat into your savings.

Household Expenses

Some household expenses in retirement could be lower. For example, if you move to a smaller home, you might have a lower mortgage payment. Utility bills may also decrease with a smaller home. Or you might have no mortgage payment at all if you’re able to pay off your home loan when you retire.

On the other hand, your household expenses could increase if you move to a more expensive area. Buying a retirement home in southern Florida, for example, could easily be more expensive compared to living in the Midwest. And your expenses could also climb if your adult child or grandchild unexpectedly moves in with you.

Lack of Income

Retirement generally means that your regular paychecks go away. Instead, you live on savings, investments, Social Security, pensions, or some combination of those things.

If you want to retire at 62, you’ll have to think about how much of an impact a lack of steady income might have financially. You may not miss those regular paychecks if you’re able to draw enough from savings, investments, and other income sources in retirement.

But if you’re in a pinch, you may need to consider ways to make up for a shortfall, such as getting a part-time job or starting a business or side hustle.

Retirement Withdrawals

It’s also important to consider your savings withdrawal rate. This is the rate at which you draw down your savings and investments monthly and annually to fund your retirement lifestyle. The 4% rule is an often-used rule of thumb for determining retirement withdrawals.

For example, say that you’ve saved $500,000 for retirement by age 62. Following the 4% rule, you can withdraw 4% of your savings to live on each year. If you stick to that rule and your portfolio continues to generate a 3% annual rate of return, then $500,000 would be enough to last you until age 97.

That assumes a 3% inflation rate. If inflation is higher at 8%, your money would run out by age 82. So, inflation is another important consideration to factor in when deciding if you can retire at 62.

Social Security Benefits

Determining a day to retire matters if you’re planning to take Social Security benefits at 62. If you’ll be relying heavily on those benefits for income, it’s important to apply in a timely manner so they kick in when needed — but you get the maximum amount possible under the circumstances.

When deciding when to retire, remember that taking Social Security at 62, or any other time before your full retirement age, will reduce your benefit amount. Working part-time can also reduce your benefits if you’re earning income above certain thresholds. Meanwhile, you could increase your benefit amount by delaying benefits up to age 70. Think about how important Social Security is for completing your retirement income picture and when you’ll need to take it.

Investing for Retirement With SoFi

Whether you’re planning to retire at 62 (or any age), having a plan can work in your favor. Estimating your expenses, setting a target savings goal, and investing in your workplace retirement plan can all help you to get on the right track.

You can open a retirement account online and start building a diversified portfolio. And if you’re assessing your retirement savings, you may want to roll over your old 401(k) accounts to an IRA, so you can manage your money in one place.

SoFi makes the rollover process seamless. You don’t have to watch the mail for your 401(k) check because the transfer is handled automatically, and there are no rollover fees.

Help grow your nest egg with a SoFi IRA.

FAQ

Is it a good idea to retire at 62?

Retiring at 62 could be a good idea if you can afford it and you’ve planned for any what-if scenarios that could affect your ability to cover your expenses. If you have significant amounts of debt and minimal savings, however, retiring at 62 may do more harm than good.

How can you retire at 62 with little money?

Retiring at 62 with little money requires careful planning to understand what your expenses will be, how much money you’ve saved, and how long that money will last. Supplementing savings with Social Security benefits or a pension can help, though you may need to plan to live much leaner in order to stretch your dollars.

What are the benefits of retiring after 62?

The longer you wait to retire, the more time you have to invest and build wealth. Delaying retirement after 62 can also increase the amount of benefits you’re eligible to receive from Social Security.


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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.
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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.

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.

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Investing Checklist: Things to Do Before the End of 2022

Investing Checklist: Things to Do Before the End of 2023

There are numerous things that investors can and perhaps should do before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, such as maxing out retirement or college savings account contributions, and harvesting tax losses.

Read on to find out what should probably be on your investing checklist for the end of the year, what to consider tackling before your tax return is due in April, and how some simple moves this December can help set you up nicely for 2023 and beyond.

End-of-Year vs Tax-Day Deadlines

Before diving into the year-end investing checklist, it’s important to remember that there are a couple of key distinctions when it comes to the calendar. Specifically, though the calendar year actually ends on December 31 of any given year, Tax Day is typically in the middle of April (April 15, usually). That’s the due date to file your federal tax return, unless you file for an extension.

As it relates to your investing checklist, this is important to take into account because some things, like maxing out your 401(k) contributions must be done before the end of the calendar year, while others (like maxing out your IRA contributions) can be done up until the Tax Day deadline.

In other words, some items on the following investing checklist will need to be crossed off before New Year’s Day, while others can wait until April.

7 Things to Do With Your Investments No Later Than Dec. 31

Here are seven things investors can or should consider doing before the calendar rolls around to 2023.

1. Max Out 401(k) Contributions

Perhaps the most beneficial thing investors can do for their long-term financial prospects is to max out their 401(k) contributions. A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement account, where workers can contribute tax-deferred portions of their paychecks.

There are also Roth 401(k) accounts, which may be available to you, which allow you to preemptively pay taxes on the contributions, allowing for tax-free withdrawals in the future.

You can only contribute a certain amount of money per year into a 401(k) account, however. For 2023, that limit is $22,500, and will increase to $23,000 in 2024. For those over 50, you can contribute an additional $7,500 in 2023, for a total of $30,000 in 2023. In 2024, the contribution limit rises to $23,000, with a $7,500 catch-up provision if you’re 50 and up, for a total of $30,500.

So, if you are able to, it may be beneficial to contribute up to the $22,500 limit for 2023 before the year ends. After December 31, any contributions will count toward the 2024 tax year.

2. Harvest Tax Losses

Tax-loss harvesting is an advanced but popular strategy that allows investors to sell some investments at a loss, and then write off their losses against their gains to help lower their tax burden.

Note that investment losses realized during a specific calendar year must be applied to the gains from the same year, but losses can be applied in the future using a strategy called a tax-loss carryforward. With 2022 having been a particularly rough year in the markets, this may be a beneficial tactic for investors to add to their year-end To Do list. Again, though, tax-loss harvesting can be a fairly complicated process, and it may be best to consult with a professional

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3. Consider 529 Plan Contributions

A 529 college savings plan is used to save for education expenses. There are a few different types, but the main thing that investors should focus on, as it relates to their year-end investing checklist, is to stash money into it before January as some states allow 529 contributions as tax deductions.

There is no federal contribution limit for 529 plans in 2022 — instead, the limit is set at the state level. Gift taxes, however, may apply, which is critical to consider.

4. Address Roll-Over Loose Ends

Another thing to check on is whether there are any loose ends to tie up in regard to any account roll-overs that you may have executed during the year.

For example, if you decided to roll over an old 401(k) into an IRA at some point during the year, you’ll want to make sure that the funds ended up with your new brokerage or retirement plan provider.

It may be easy to overlook, but sometimes checks get sent to the wrong place or other wires get crossed, and it can be a good idea to double-check everything is where it should be before the year ends.

5. Review Insurance Policies

Some employers require or encourage employees to opt into certain benefits programs every year, including insurance coverage. This may or may not apply to your specific situation, but it can be a good idea to check and make sure your insurance coverage is up to date — and that you’ve done things like named beneficiaries, and that all relevant contact information is also current.

6. Review Your Estate Plan

This is another item on your investing checklist that may not necessarily need to be done by the end of the year, but it’s a good idea to make a habit of it: Review your estate plan, or get one started!

Your estate plan includes several important documents that legally establish what happens to your money and assets in the event that you die. If you don’t have one, you should probably make it an item on your to-do list. If you do have one, you can use the end of the year as a time to check in and make sure that your heirs or beneficiaries are designated, that there are instructions about how you’d prefer your death or incapacitation to be handled, and more.

7. Donate Appreciated Stocks

Finally, you can and perhaps should consider donating stocks to charity by the end of the year. There are a couple of reasons to consider a stock donation: One, you won’t pay any capital gains taxes if the shares have appreciated, and second, you’ll be able to snag a tax deduction for the full market value of the shares at the time that you donate them. The tax deduction limit is for up to 30% of your adjustable gross income — a considerable amount.

Remember, though, that charitable donations must be completed by December 31 if you hope to deduct the donation for the current tax year.

3 Things for Investors to Do by Tax Day 2024

As mentioned, there are a few items on your investing checklist that can be completed by Tax Day, or in mid-April 2024. Here are the few outstanding items that you’ll have several more months to complete.

1. Max Out IRA Contributions

One of the important differences between 401(k)s and IRAs is the contribution deadline. While 401(k) contributions must be made before the end of the calendar year, investors can keep making contributions to their IRA accounts up until Tax Day 2024, within the contribution limits of course.

So, if you want to max out your IRA contributions for 2023, the limit is $6,500. But people over 50 can contribute an additional $1,000 — and you’ll have until April to contribute for 2023 and still be able to deduct contributions from your taxable income (assuming it’s a tax-deferred IRA, not a Roth IRA).

Further, the limit will increase to $7,000 in 2024, with the same $1,000 catch-up provision, and some taxpayers may be able to deduct their contributions, too, under certain conditions.

2. Max Out HSA Contributions

If you have a health savings account (HSA), you’ll want to make sure you’ve hit your contribution limits before Tax Day, too. The contribution limits for HSAs in 2023 are $3,850 for self-only coverage and $7,750 for family coverage, though depending on your age and a few other factors, there may be some additional things to consider. For 2024, the contribution limits are $4,150 for self-only coverage and $8,300 for family coverage. People over 55 can contribute an additional $1,000 in both 2023 and 2024.

3. Take Your RMD (if Applicable)

If you’re retired, you may need to take a required minimum distribution (RMD) from your retirement account by the beginning of April next year, if it’s your first RMD. But if you’ve taken an RMD before, you’ll need to do so before the end of 2023 — so, be sure to check to see what deadline applies to your specific situation.

This generally only applies to people who are in their 70s, but it may be worth discussing with a professional what the best course of action is, especially if you have multiple retirement accounts.

The Takeaway

Doing a year-end financial review can be extremely beneficial, and a checklist can help make sure you don’t miss any important steps for 2023 — and set you up for 2024. That investing checklist should probably include things like maxing out contributions to your retirement accounts, harvesting tax losses in order to manage your tax bill, and possibly even taking minimum required distributions. Everyone’s situation is different, so you’ll need to tailor your investing checklist accordingly.

Also, it’s important to keep in mind that you may have until Tax Day in April to get some of it done — though it may be good practice to knock everything out by the end of the year. If you’re only beginning to invest, keeping this list handy and reviewing it annually can help you establish healthy financial habits.

You can also start next year off strong by opening an investment account with SoFi Invest, and using SoFi’s secure, streamlined app to buy stocks, ETFs, and more.

Start investing today!


Photo credit: iStock/dusanpetkovic

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.

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.

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Credit Cards Are for Spending, Not Saving, Right? Not Necessarily.

Credit Cards Are for Spending, Not Saving, Right? Not Necessarily.

Whether you’re new to saving for retirement or an old pro, you can use your credit card for funding your IRA or other retirement accounts.

How exactly does this work?

5 Steps for Using a Credit Card To Save for Retirement

Step 1: Learning About IRAs & Other Retirement Funds

If you don’t already have a retirement account, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the different types that are available. You may want to consider opening an IRA, stocks, or a mutual fund — a package of stocks and bonds that includes many different companies — to help offset risk.

💡 Recommended: Understanding the Different Types of Retirement Plans

Step 2: Finding the Right Credit Card

Once you’ve figured out how and where you want to invest, you can begin your search to find the right credit card; specifically, a cash-back credit card. These cards offer a percentage back (most offer about 2%) for every dollar you spend. But instead of putting that money directly into your regular bank account or using “points” (which usually don’t have as much value) to shop or get discounts, you can flip that money into your shiny new retirement fund, where it will earn compound interest.

💡 Recommended: How to Choose a Credit Card That Fits You

Step 3: Putting Your Cash-back Rewards To Work

As with any credit card, it’s important to keep your spending in check so that you can pay it off every month. After all, paying interest pretty much negates the whole cash-back thing. But it can be a good idea to put big purchases on your card (as long as you can pay it off that month).

So if you need a new computer for work, you can buy it with your credit card. Bonus: Your card may offer insurance on such a purchase. So it’s a good idea to read the fine print and find out.

Same goes for paying rent with your credit card, as long as your landlord doesn’t charge a fee for credit card payments. Your monthly bills too. The average American pays about $8,600 a year in bills (not including rent or mortgage). If you have to pay for these services anyway, why not earn a few hundred dollars a year by paying them with your credit card?

Again, in order to really benefit from these cash-back rewards, it’s important to pay off your credit card bill every month. Paying interest will just eat into your rewards.

💡 Recommended: Guide to Cash-Back Rewards

Step 4: Mixing & Matching Your Cash-back Cards

Some cards give you a flat cash-back rate. Others offer tiered rewards for specific purchases like groceries, gas, or dining out. If you want to get the most cash-back rewards possible, it’s a smart idea to look at your spending. Figure out what areas you spend the most on each month, and choose a card (or multiple cards) that offer the best rewards for those categories.

Step 5: Automating Your Payments & Investments

To make sure you don’t give in to temptation, you may want to consider automating the cash-back payments to your retirement fund. While you’re at it, you can automate your monthly bill payments so you don’t have to lift a finger to earn those cash-back rewards. You can do the same with your monthly credit card payment to ensure you always pay it on time.

💡 Recommended: Guide to Investing With Credit Card Rewards

The Takeaway

The keys to saving successfully for retirement are to start early, pay off debt quickly, and be consistent with investments. That’s especially true if you want to retire early. And while credit cards can be dangerous when used carelessly, they can obviously offer a great advantage for people who can pay off their credit card bills every month.

If you want to get started on saving for your retirement with a credit card, you can check out SoFi’s very own credit card, which offers 2% cash-back rewards points. Pair it with a SoFi IRA, and you’re in business.

FAQ

How do credit cards help save money?

Credit card companies are essentially providing you with free loans, but only if these two things are true: First, you pay off your bills in full every month to avoid accruing interest. And second, you’re paying no annual fee. In that case, you can say that credit cards are saving you money.

Can I fund my IRA with a credit card?

Yes, you can actually fund your IRA with a credit card. The way it works: Investment companies like Schwab, Fidelity, and Morgan Stanley partner with credit cards offering cash back. The cash back you earn on those cards can be directly deposited into your IRA with that company. You’d have to spend $300,000 to earn $6,000 in cash back — the 2022 IRA limit for people under 50 — but it’s possible.

How do I contribute to an IRA?

The first step is to open an IRA account, either through your employer, a bank, traditional investment company, or online financial institution. Then make one or more deposits up to the annual limit. Deposits can come directly from your paycheck, an online transfer, or even a cash-back credit card.


Photo credit: iStock/RgStudio




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.

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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How Much Should I Have in My 401k by Age 30?

How Much Should I Have in My 401k by Age 30?

A 401(k) can be a great way to save for retirement on a pre-tax basis, while enjoying the added benefit of an employer match. But it can be hard to know if you’re saving enough. You might be wondering, How much should I have in my 401(k) at 30? A common rule of thumb is to have at least one year’s salary saved in your 401(k) by the time you turn 30.

Your actual 401(k) balance, however, may be higher or lower depending on when you started saving, how much of your salary you defer into the plan, and the amount your employer matches. We’ll break down the average target balance for workers from age 25 to 65, and what to do if you’re not quite hitting that goal.

Recommended: Should I Sell My House Now or Wait

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How Much You Ideally Have Saved for Retirement

It’s never too early to ask “am I on track for retirement?” The sooner you do, the more time you’ll have to catch up if you’re falling short. Just know that the answer can be a moving target, depending on a number of variables.

First of all, your retirement savings objective will depend largely on your retirement goals. Someone who wants to retire at 50 is going to need a much larger nest egg by age 30 than someone who plans to wait until age 70 to retire.

Many other factors also come into play. By way of example, let’s calculate the 401(k) savings for one 30-year-old professional woman. Retirement experts often recommend saving 10% to 15% of your income in a workplace retirement plan each year. Following that advice, our hypothetical saver:

•   starts contributing to her plan at age 25.

•   defers 10% of her $60,000 salary annually for five years.

•   earns a 7% annual rate of return — a pretty average rate of return on 401(k) investments.

•   benefits from an employer match of 50% of contributions, up to 6% of her salary.

By age 30, our professional would have $46,539 saved in her 401(k). This is a great start. However, you can see how her balance might be significantly higher or lower if we changed up one or more details. For instance, by contributing 15% of her pay instead, she’d have $64,439 on her Big 3-0. On the other hand, if she started saving later, earned a lower rate of return, or enjoyed a less generous employer match, her balance could be lower.

Bottom line? How much you should have saved in a 401(k) by age 30 (or any other age) is subjective. It varies based on where you’re starting from and how aggressively you’re saving each year.

Recommended: When Can I Retire?

How Much Do You Need to Retire

While you might hear financial experts say that you need $1 million or even $2 million to enjoy a comfortable retirement, that’s a guideline rather than a set-in-stone number. The amount you’ll need to retire can depend on:

•   How long you plan to continue working

•   When you anticipate taking Social Security benefits

•   Your desired lifestyle in retirement

•   How much you expect to spend on basic living expenses in retirement

•   Whether you have a spouse or partner

•   Whether you anticipate needing long-term care at some point

Assessing your personal retirement goals can help you come up with a realistic number that you should be targeting. It’s also helpful to consider how things like changing health care needs, increases (or cuts) to Social Security and Medicare, and inflation may impact the dollar amount you need to save and invest to avoid falling short in retirement.

Recommended: Does Net Worth Include Home Equity

Average and Median 401(k) Balance by Age

Looking at the average savings by age can give you some idea of whether you’re on track. Just keep in mind that your progress and savings should match up with your specific goals.

Age

Average Account Balance

Median Account Balance

Under age 25 $6,264 $1,786
25 to 34 $37,211 $14,068
35 to 44 $97,020 $36,117
45 to 54 $179,200 $61,530
55 to 64 $256,244 $89,716
65+ $279,997 $87,725

Using a chart like this can make it easier to see where you are on the savings spectrum. So if you’re wondering “how much should I have saved by 40?,” for example, you can see at a glance that the average 40-something has close to $100,000 in retirement savings.

Remember that average numbers reflect outlier highs and lows, while the median represents where people in the middle of the pack land. Between them, median can be a more accurate or reliable number to measure yourself against.

Recommended: Is My 401(k) Enough for Retirement?

Tips to Save for Retirement

Enrolling in your 401(k) is one of the easiest ways to begin building retirement savings. Your employer may have enrolled you automatically when you were hired. If you’re not sure, contact your HR department. You can also check your default contribution rate to see how much you’re contributing to the plan.

It’s a good idea to contribute at least enough to get the full company match if one is offered. Otherwise, you’re leaving free money on the table.

If you’re worried you’re not saving enough, consider supplementing your 401(k) with an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

An IRA is another tax-advantaged savings option. You can open a traditional IRA, which offers the benefit of tax-deductible contributions, or a Roth IRA. With a Roth IRA, you can’t deduct contributions, but qualified withdrawals are 100% tax-free.

Not sure how to start a retirement fund? It’s actually easy to do through an online brokerage. You can create an account, choose which type of IRA you want to open, and set up automatic contributions to start building wealth.

How Much Should You Contribute to Your 401(k) Per Year

The amount you should contribute to your 401(k) each year should reflect your retirement savings goal, how many years you have to save, and your expected annual rate of return.

When deciding how much to save, first consider your budget and how much of your income you can commit to your 401(k). Next, look at the amount you need to contribute to get the full company match. You can then plug those numbers, along with your salary, into a 401(k) calculator to get an idea of how likely you are to hit your retirement savings goal.

For instance, you might figure out that you need to save 15% of your pay each year. But if you’re not making a lot yet, you might only be able to afford saving 8% each year. So what do you do then? A simple solution is to increase your contribution amount each year and work your way up to the 15% threshold gradually.

Example of Impact of Compounding Interest on Retirement

Does it matter when you start saving for retirement? Yes, and in a big way, thanks to compounding interest. Compound interest is the interest you earn on your interest. The longer you have to save and invest, the better. In fact, the best way to build wealth in your 30s is simply to continue contributing what you can to your retirement savings, and then let it sit there for a few decades.

Going back to the 401(k) example mentioned at the beginning, someone who starts saving 10% of their pay at age 25 and earns a steady 7% rate of return would have just over $1.6 million saved for retirement by age 65. That assumes they earn the same $60,000 throughout their career. If they were to get a 2% annual raise, their 401(k) balance would be over $2 million by the time they retire.

Now, assume that same person waits until age 35 to start saving. Even with a 2% annual raise, they’d have just $938,897 saved by age 65. That’s still a decent chunk of money, but it’s far less than they would have had if they’d gotten an earlier start. This example illustrates how powerful compounding interest can be when determining how much you’ll end up with in retirement.

Don’t Panic If You’re Behind on Saving

Having a lot of money in your 401(k) by age 30 is great, but don’t feel bad if you’re not where you need to be. Instead of fretting over what you haven’t saved, focus on what you can do next to increase your savings efforts.

That can mean:

•   Increasing your 401(k) contribution rate

•   Opening an IRA to go along with your 401(k)

•   Choosing low-cost investments to minimize fees

•   Investing through a taxable brokerage account

What if you have no money to invest? In that case, you might need to go back to basics. Getting on a budget, for example, can help you rein in overspending and find the extra money that you need to save. A free budget app is a simple and effective way to keep tabs on spending and saving.

The Takeaway

How much you should have in your 401(k) at 30 isn’t a simple number that applies to everyone. Your savings goal depends on a number of factors, such as your anticipated retirement age, when you started saving, your rate of return, and so on. Many retirement experts recommend saving 10% to 15% of your salary in a tax-advantaged retirement plan. From there, compounding interest over a long period of time will multiply your earnings. The bottom line is to save as much as you comfortably can.

Retirement planning starts with getting to know your spending habits and budget. If you’re not using a budget app yet, then a money tracker like SoFi’s may be just what you need. SoFi tracks all of your money in one place for free. You can track spending, get financial insights, and even monitor your credit right from your mobile device.

Download the SoFi app and take control of your money.

FAQ

What is the average 401(k) balance for a 35-year-old?

The average 401(k) balance for a 35-year-old is $97,020, according to Vanguard’s How America Saves report. Average 401(k) balances are typically higher than median 401(k) balances across all age groups, as they reflect higher and lower outliers.

How much will a 401(k) grow in 20 years on average?

The amount that a 401(k) will grow over a 20-year period can depend on how much someone contributes to the plan annually, how much of that contribution their employer matches, and their average rate of return. Someone who saves consistently, increases their contribution rate annually, and chooses investments that perform well will likely see more growth than someone who saves only the bare minimum or hands back a chunk of their returns in 401(k) fees.

What is a good 401(k) balance at age 30?

A good 401(k) balance by age 30 is at least one year’s worth of salary. So if you make $75,000 a year you’d ideally want to have $75,000 in your retirement account. Whether that number is realistic for you can depend on how much you earn, when you started saving in your 401(k), and your rate of return.


Photo credit: iStock/Burak Kavakci

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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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