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Retirement 101
When to consider increasing your retirement contribution rate
When to consider increasing your retirement contribution rate

If you recently paid off bills, received a raise, or hit a major life event, it may be an opportunity to increase your retirement savings.

Updated over a week ago

Just a 1% increase in your 401(k) contribution rate can make a big difference when you’re ready to retire. But setting aside more money from your paycheck each month can be easier said than done.

If you can’t afford to increase your contribution amount right now, there are certain life and financial events where you might want to revisit your decision. You may be able to boost your retirement savings without sacrificing your current income needs.

Here’s when you might wish to consider upping the amount you contribute to your accounts. However, we always recommend consulting with a financial advisor or tax professional to assess your financial objectives and needs before making any investment-related decisions.

5 opportunities to boost your retirement contributions

At the start of the new year

Make it a New Year’s resolution to increase your retirement contributions at the beginning of each year. You can start slow by increasing your rate by 1%. Then, as your career progresses over time, consider increasing your rate annually based on what your new budget can afford. Increasing your contribution rate at the beginning of the year may also help you maximize any matching contribution you may be eligible for.

Some employer-sponsored plans include an auto-escalation feature, which will automatically increase your contribution rate by a set percentage each year based on your plan document. But if yours doesn’t, you can set a reminder in your calendar to log in and make the change. And if January doesn’t work for you, pick your preferred time of year and make it an annual habit to boost your retirement savings.

When you pay off other bills

Paying off high-interest debt, such as credit card bills and personal loans, is a major accomplishment for your financial well-being. And freeing up that extra cash can provide you some much-needed wiggle room in your budget.

Consider redirecting the amount you’re saving each month in bill payments to your retirement savings accounts.

After you’ve built up emergency savings

As a good rule of thumb, you may want to consider having a savings safety net of 3 to 6 months’ worth of living expenses. Once you’ve met this short-term savings goal, it could be a great time to start saving for longer-term needs, like retirement.

When you receive a pay bump

Whether you recently received a raise, got a promotion, or moved to a new job with a higher salary, congrats! It certainly feels good to be earning more, but don’t get trapped in the “lifestyle creep” cycle – where your monthly expenses increase as you earn more money. Instead, potentially think about taking the extra income – or at least some of it – to invest for your future.

As soon as you receive a pay bump, consider increasing your retirement contributions so the extra money never hits your bank account. You may not miss it – and can’t spend – what you don’t have.

Once you turn 50

After you celebrate your 50th birthday, you may be eligible to begin making catch-up contributions. These additional contributions go above the typical annual contribution limit set by the IRS, allowing those nearing retirement age to catch up on their savings.

If you’re a Guideline 401(k) participant, you can change your contribution rate at any time in your dashboard.

This information is general in nature and is for informational purposes only. It shouldn’t be used as a substitute for specific tax, legal, and/or financial advice that considers all relevant facts and circumstances. Investing involves risk and investments may lose value. Tax laws and regulations are complex and subject to change. You should consult a qualified financial adviser or tax professional before relying on this information.

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