Guest Post by Cheryl Garland
Investing for retirement isn’t always the most cheerful topic of conversation. It makes you think about two things: getting older, and stashing away your income where you don’t get to enjoy it! Neither one of those quite makes you want to jump off the couch and do cartwheels.
That said, you might feel like doing a few cartwheels if years down the line you start to dip into your retirement savings and realize that you’ve got quite a bit of them. Then you might do more cartwheels just to celebrate the fact that you’re a senior citizen heading into retirement and you’re still nimble enough to do them in the first place. But, I digress.
The point here is that you can’t ever enjoy your retirement savings unless you generate them effectively in the first place. There’s not a definitive “best” way to do this, but there are a lot of fairly reliable methods that have developed over the years, and it’s never too late to start in on one of them. So here are six types of different retirement investments to consider.
Generally speaking, a 401(k) is the go-to example of a retirement fund, at least for those who seek to save for retirement through employers. And hey, why not invest in the method that, at least in some cases, lets your employer match what you’re able to put away? A 401(k) topped one list of retirement savings accounts to consider, and with good reason. It’s a simple, straightforward setup by which you allow a given amount of your salary to be put away to start earning interest, before it’s ever taxed. It’s really one of society’s better ideas.
Another type of savings account pointed out by the article that started off with the 401(k), a SEP IRA is made for people who happen to be self-employed, or small business owners. Basically, it works like a 401(k) but a little bit more simply, given you’re just doing it for yourself. In a SEP IRA you’re able to put away up to 25 percent of your annual income, which is a pretty serious chunk to be stashing away for retirement.
Retirement Mutual Fund
“Mutual fund” is a term that gets bounced around a lot, but in case you’re not particularly familiar with what it actually is, one handy overview describes it as a fund that pools money from a group of investors to build up a portfolio with minimal costs, maximum diversity, and maximum returns. Sounds good, right? Even better, there are some mutual funds out there specifically designed for retirement, through which you can set up a sort of monthly withdrawal that basically acts as a retirement salary.
An IRA is basically a personal retirement plan that’s unrelated to your employment, whether your work for somebody else or yourself. You can put in about $5000 or $6000 per year (and it grows without its growth being taxed). But here’s the fun part! You can actually contribute to an IRA in addition to, well, any other type of account on this list. That’s easier said than done, but if you’re able to do it you can wind up putting away quite a bit of money each year—which you’ll appreciate down the line.
A health savings account is basically a means of putting away money for health costs in advance, in a tax-free account. It’s actually meant to be spent, if necessary, on medical expenses not covered by your insurance policy. But the catch is that whatever you put into an HSA actually rolls over to the next year. Plenty of people who invest in HSAs don’t wind up spending their investments, so this rollover can actually become pretty significant.
Your Own Portfolio
Finally, if you like to take risks, you can always set up your own investment portfolio and enjoy more direct control over your retirement fund. This is generally not advisable, but if you happen to be a skilled investor and you like the idea of keeping a close eye on how your savings are doing, you can always open a portfolio specifically for this purpose.
That’s a lot to consider! And even if you’re on the cusp of retirement already, it’s never too late to stop saving. I know, I know, you’ve heard it a hundred times—but you’ll be glad you did it.