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Behind in Saving for Retirement? Approaches to Catching Up

(BPT) - Does the pace of your busy personal and professional life leave you feeling like you're always playing catch up? From finally reading that best-seller that's been sitting on your book shelf for a year to getting a solid eight hours of sleep to making sure you have enough money set aside for the future, it can be difficult to regain lost ground. If you were among the millions whose retirement savings and investments suffered during the recession, there's good news: you can start to catch up with a few simple steps.

On average, baby boomers say they have saved or invested $275,000 for retirement, but believe they'll need a median of $750,000 to live comfortably, according to a Boomers & Retirement Survey released by TD Ameritrade, Inc. ("TD Ameritrade"), a broker-dealer subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (NYSE: AMTD). That means some boomers may face a shortfall of nearly a half a million dollars as they head into retirement.

Smart retirement planning, thoughtful choices and a handy -option called a "catch-up contribution," can help boomers regain ground lost during the recession. A catch-up contribution allows people older than 50 to increase their contributions to their IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plans beyond the usual limits for such tax-deferred retirement plans.

"Anyone approaching retirement should consider different opportunities, like catch-up contributions, that might make sense for their retirement investing plans," says Lule Demmissie, managing director, retirement, TD Ameritrade. "These catch-up contributions could help workers 50 years and older save thousands more - perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars more - toward their retirement. When planning for retirement, every dollar counts, especially when it's going into a tax-deferred vehicle."

Demmissie offers some guidance for baby boomers approaching retirement:

* There is no standard target amount for retirement. When setting a target for your retirement investing or savings, you need a realistic idea of how much you'll need to maintain the standard of living you desire in retirement. Online calculators and tools, like those found on TD Ameritrade's online retirement center can help you set goals by exploring various real-world scenarios that might impact your assets over time and at retirement. For example, do you have health challenges that may create medical expenses? Perhaps you and your spouse would like to travel when retired. Different objectives and circumstances will influence how much you'll need to save in order to live comfortably.

* Don't rely on Social Security benefits, but don't overlook them, either. They should be a part of your overall retirement plan, but not the heart of it. Unfortunately, 65 percent of retired boomers said they rely on Social Security benefits, and nearly one-third said they wouldn't be able to live comfortably without these payments, according to TD Ameritrade's survey. "The best way to avoid having to rely completely on Social Security is to set a retirement savings goal and work toward it prior to retiring," Demmissie says.

* Take advantage of catch-up contributions. As long as you will be 50 (or older) by the end of the calendar year, you may be eligible to contribute an extra $1,000 per year toward your IRA until you turn 70 (which is the last year to contribute to a traditional IRA). If you save an additional $1,000 per year for 20 years and get a 5 percent rate of return, you could have an additional $34,719 toward retirement. Fully fund your IRA with $6,500 a year between ages 50 and 70, and that could amount to an additional $225,675 for retirement.

"Remember, it is never too late to start planning for retirement," Demmissie says. "If you experienced financial setbacks that stalled your retirement efforts, it may just mean you have to adjust your retirement expectations, work a little longer or think of other means of support that you may have not considered before. But it's never too late to get started."




EDITOR’S NOTE:

Information provided by: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, brokerage services provided by TD Ameritrade, Inc. member FINRA/SIPC /NFA. TD Ameritrade, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation.

About the Survey

An online survey was conducted with N = 2,000 U.S. Baby Boomers between October 10 and 12, 2012, by Head Research on behalf of TD Ameritrade, Inc. Sample was drawn from major regions in proportion to the U.S. Census, including New England (5%), Mid-Atlantic (16%), South (25%), Midwest (22%), Southwest (12%), West (20%). Approximately 50% of respondents in each region were male and 50% female. All respondents were required to be: 1) Baby Boomers (i.e., born between 1946 and 1964) and 2) Shared or sole household decision-makers concerning saving for retirement. Two primary groups were defined based on financial preparedness for retirement: 1) Prepared: “Somewhat” or “very prepared” financially for retirement (n = 1,430) and 2) Unprepared: “Somewhat “or “very unprepared” financially for retirement (n = 570). The survey took each participant 16 minutes to complete, on average. The statistical margin of error for overall results in this study is +/- 2.2%. This means that, in 19 out of 20 cases, survey results for questions based on all Baby Boomers (i.e., N = 2,000) will differ by no more than 2.2% in either direction from what would have been obtained by measuring the opinions of all Baby Boomers in the USA.

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