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If you feel you might be behind in saving for retirement, you’re not alone.  Almost half of workers surveyed have saved less than $25,000 for retirement, according to the 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefits Research Institute.1 Every little bit you can save – no matter what your age – will help you in the long run. And, there are things you can do to catch up if you need to save more. Here are a few ideas.

Over 50? You may be allowed to contribute more

If you’re age 50 or older, you may be able to contribute an additional $6,000 to your retirement plan and an additional $1,000 to an IRA in 2018. These IRS rules, called catch-up contributions, can make all the difference in meeting your retirement savings goal. Keep in mind that your plan may not allow catch-up contributions – so check with your plan administrator to confirm the details.

Maximum contribution chart

Additional catch-up contributions for 403(b) and 457(b) plan participants

Some plans sponsored by school districts, hospitals, churches, and other government organizations allow for other catch-up contributions.

For 403(b) plan participants: If your plan permits it and you’ve been working for a public school system, hospital, home health service agency, health and welfare service agency, church, or convention or association of churches (or associated organization) for at least 15 years, you can make an additional contribution equal to the lesser of:

  • $3,000,
  • $15,000, reduced by the amount of you’ve contributed in prior years, or
  • $5,000 times the number of the employee’s years of service for the organization, minus the amount you’ve contributed in earlier years.

Be sure to ask your employer before making these additional contributions, since specific rules apply.

For 457(b) plan participants: If permitted by your plan, and you are 3 years from normal retirement age (as specified in the plan), you can contribute the lesser of:

  • Twice the annual limit ($37,000 for 2018), or
  • The basic annual limit plus the amount of the basic limit not used in prior years (only allowed if not using age 50 or over catch-up contributions)

If you are under the age of 50 and are looking for ways to save more, here are some other suggestions:

Up your contributions – without even noticing

Many plans offer automatic annual contribution increases -- called auto-escalation features -- which increase your contributions by 1% per year. This is a simple and relatively painless way to contribute more to your plan, since contributions are deducted before you see them.  Just a small increase in savings each year could make a big difference over time.  If you get a raise during the year, you may not even notice the change in your take-home pay.

Make sure you’re getting your full employer match

Many employers will match your plan contributions up to a specific percentage of your salary.* If your plan provides matching contributions try to contribute enough to get the full match. It’s like getting free money! Even if you contribute to your employer’s retirement plan, you may still be able to contribute to an IRA.

Put additional income to work

If you receive a bonus or inheritance this year, consider giving your savings a boost. Although it might be tempting to spend the money, adding it to your retirement savings could make all the difference in achieving your annual retirement savings goal.

1Source: Employee Benefit Research Institution, 2017 Retirement Confidence Survey, March 21, 2017.   
2Source: Internal Revenue Service, Filing Season Statistics for Week Ending Dec. 30, 2016.
* Employer matching contributions may be subject to minimum holding periods and other requirements.

Important Note: Equitable believes that education is a key step toward addressing your financial goals, and we’ve designed this material to serve simply as an informational and educational resource. Accordingly, this article does not offer or constitute investment advice and makes no direct or indirect recommendation of any particular product or of the appropriateness of any particular investment-related option. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal invested.  Your needs, goals and circumstances are unique, and they require the individualized attention of your financial professional. But for now, take some time just to learn more.

This article is provided for your informational purposes only. Please be advised that this document is not intended as legal or tax advice. Accordingly, any tax information provided in this document is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer. The tax information was written to support the promotion or marketing of the transaction(s) or matter(s) addressed and you should seek advice based on your particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

Equitable Financial Life Insurance Company (NY, NY) issues life insurance and annuity products. Securities offered through Equitable Advisors, LLC, member FINRA, SIPC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), Equitable and Equitable Advisors are affiliated companies and do not provide legal or tax advice.

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GE-134663 (03/2018) (Exp. 03/2020)