2 Painless Ways to Boost Your Retirement Savings Before the End of the Year

(Maurie Backman)

Now that we’re nearing the end of 2022, a lot of people are starting to take stock of their finances. That means assessing emergency funds, reviewing brokerage accounts, and seeing how well they’re doing with retirement-plan contributions.

If you’re not particularly happy with your retirement-savings rate this year, it may be that you hit a snag when you paused your IRA or 401(k) plan contributions for a while to cope with rising living costs. Inflation has forced many people to make such difficult choices this year.

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But if you’re looking at your IRA or 401(k) balance and you aren’t happy about it, know that all isn’t lost. You still have an opportunity to sneak more money into your savings before 2022 wraps up — and enjoy the tax savings that come with that. (Remember, traditional retirement plan contributions lower your taxable income for the year.) Here’s how to boost your savings in the next month without breaking a sweat.

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1. Snag your full 401(k) match

If you have access to a 401(k) plan through your employer, then there’s a good chance that you’re also entitled to some type of match. Granted, not every company does this, but many do. And if you haven’t yet contributed enough to claim your match in full, pushing yourself to ramp up in December could mean boosting your savings a lot by virtue of snagging that free money.

Let’s say your company will match up to $5,000 in annual 401(k) contributions dollar for dollar. If you’ve only put in $4,000 to date but are able to put another $1,000 into your 401(k) next month, you’ll get $2,000 out of that contribution.

That said, if you want to increase your savings rate in your 401(k) plan, put in that request quickly. It might take a little time for your payroll department to process that change, and you don’t want to run out of days in 2022.

2. Save your year-end bonus

Many companies have the practice of giving out year-end bonuses. If you’re entitled to one, it pays to ask your payroll department if it’s possible to allocate that money to your 401(k), instead.

Will doing so mean missing out on the chance to spend that money on something fun? Yes. But the beauty of a bonus is that it’s extra cash — not money you’re counting on to pay the bills. If you’re willing to put your bonus into your 401(k), you can really boost your savings nicely.

Don’t have a 401(k)? Just cash that bonus check and then transfer the equivalent amount into your IRA.

In fact, with an IRA, you get plenty of time to do this because you have until next-year’s tax-filing deadline to finish funding your IRA for 2022. So even if you don’t get that bonus check until Dec. 31, it won’t be too late to put that money into your IRA.

The more you’re able to boost your retirement savings in the next month, the more financially secure you might feel going into 2023. These easy moves could be your ticket to a higher savings balance — and also, more near-term tax savings and financial stability down the line.

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