Save & Invest

No matter how near or far you are from retirement, learning how to manage debt, save smartly, and invest wisely can take you a long way toward financial security later in life.

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A small change can make a big difference

Sometimes the little things in life make the biggest difference. That's true when it comes to saving for retirement too.

When you start saving for retirement, aim for an amount that's manageable (perhaps whatever's needed to meet your employer contribution, if one is offered.) Then, challenge yourself to save 1% or more each year toward retirement. While 1% is a small percentage of your annual earnings, after 20 or 30 years it can make a big difference in your total savings.

 

Remember, a key to growing your savings is to increase your contributions each year. If your plan lets you set automatic increases every year, definitely take advantage of it. Overall, Fidelity recommends building up to saving 15% of your income toward retirement annually (including any contributions your employer may make to your account). But remember, you don't have to get there overnight, and you can change your contribution amount if you need to.

Go ahead, challenge yourself to save a little more. Whether it's a 1%, 3%, or even 5% increase, the extra money you save today could make a big difference in helping you achieve the retirement you envision.

What type of investor are you?

Once you're saving for retirement, you'll need to ensure your savings are invested wisely. Choosing the right mix of investments and how to manage them is key to help protect and grow your savings. Consider the amount of experience, time, and interest you have to manage your investments when deciding which of the following approaches is right for you:

A more hands-off approach

If investing isn't your first love and you find it hard to regularly review your financial situation and investments, then you may want to choose an investment approach that does the work for you:

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  • Single Fund Solution. There are typically two types of funds: Target date funds (based on an anticipated retirement date) and target allocation funds (based on a risk tolerance and time horizon). With a target date fund, you pick the fund with the target year closest to when you want to retire. The fund adjusts the investment mix to become more conservative as it gets closer to the retirement date and beyond. With target allocation funds, the investment mix varies from conservative to aggressive.  Simply select the fund that you feel best meets your risk tolerance, time horizon, and investment goals. (Availability may vary depending on your plan) 
  • Managed account. If your plan offers this option, investment professionals will get to know you and your retirement goals and then manage your investments based on your personal situation.
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A more hands-on approach

If you're comfortable spending more time researching and monitoring investments - as well as building your own diversified portfolio and managing it through market ups and downs - Fidelity offers tools to help you to a more financially secure retirement.

Whichever approach you choose, be sure to regularly check that your investments still meet your changing needs (at least once per year) to help ensure you're on track to meet your goals.

Balancing act: Saving, spending, and paying debt

  • Paying down debt and saving for retirement can seem like competing priorities. But if you look at them together, you'll see how much they influence each other. If you're finding it hard to save for retirement, solid strategies exist to help you get and stay on track. Here are a few things to consider:
    • Create a budget to find balance between competing priorities. Not sure where all the money goes? A budget will help you prioritize essential expenses over discretionary (nice, but not necessary) spending. In the process, you may find a few unspent dollars to save for retirement.
    • Set aside money for emergencies. Be sure you have a financial safety net in case unexpected expenses or financial emergencies arise. As a rule of thumb, aim to save enough to cover at least three to six months' worth of living expenses.
    • Pay off cards with the highest interest rate first. Tackle the card that's costing you the most money in interest every month. Continue to make the minimum required payments on other cards (or more, if possible). When that first card is paid off, put your extra money toward paying off the next card or other debt.
    • Make the most of your retirement plan. Paying down debt and saving for retirement can co-­exist. If your employer offers matching contributions, and there's enough left in your budget, be sure to save enough to take advantage of what is essentially "free" money.

    If you've stopped contributing to your retirement plan, start again. A 1% to 3% contribution will have a small impact on your take-home pay (which won't get in the way of your efforts to pay down debt) and will help you save more for your future.

Have an old retirement account? You have options.

  • Do you have more than one retirement account? If you're changing jobs or have changed jobs in the past, it's time to make a choice on what to do with that old account. Several options are available to you:
    1. If simplification and having everything in one place sounds like something you are looking for, roll over to your current plan. This allows you to manage all of your retirement assets through one account with one statement.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    2. If you'd like a wider choice of investment options than what you have in your former plan, you may want to consolidate your plan in an IRA.1 This can be a good way to supplement your existing workplace savings plan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    3. If you aren't ready to make a move, and your plan allows, you can leave your money in your employer's plan. You'll keep the same tax-deferred savings potential and have continued access to the plan's investment choices.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
    4. If your need is great enough, you could take your money in cash. This option clearly has the most drawbacks. You'll not only eliminate your retirement funds, but you'll likely be subject to federal, state, and local taxes - and possibly penalties.
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