If a look at the balance in your 401(k) sparks a midlife savings crisis, take heart: Later is a better time than never to get serious about saving for retirement. Here are five tips financial planners recommend to ramp up your retirement savings later in life:
Max out your 401(k) or IRA contributions
Everyone can put up to $18,500 of pretax salary each year into a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan. But once you hit 50, that annual limit rises to $24,500. Another option is putting money in a tax-advantaged account like a traditional or Roth IRA, which allows contributions up to $5,500 a year; and at age 50, the limit rises to $6,500.
Get a raise, a bonus or a tax refund? Invest it all
If your income goes up, put that new money into retirement savings. "When you get behind in your retirement savings, you have to attack it with a single-minded intensity," said Celia Brugge, a certified financial planner in Memphis. "Whenever you get a bonus or raise or extra cash, put it all there."
If you have maxed out contributions to a tax-advantaged retirement account, look at other ways to invest.
Consider taking risks, but not crazy ones
As retirement age nears, portfolios tend to skew toward more conservative investments, like bonds and money market funds. But if your savings remain small, you may want to set your portfolio for growth by having a higher ratio of equities, which carry greater risk but also a greater potential to rise quickly. One big caveat: Don't chase big returns with supposed magic-bullet investments.
Rethink that college fund
Experts like to point out that kids can borrow money for college but parents can't take out a loan to pay for retirement. This is a dilemma for parents. But with the rising cost of a college education and more parents having children later in life, it may not be possible to fund both your child's education and your retirement.
Consider a new retirement timeline
Working Americans born after 1960 will qualify for full Social Security benefits at age 67 — but as an incentive to delay, the government will increase your payments by up to 8 percent every year until the age of 70.
That may mean working longer than you planned to.