The approaching holiday season has a lot of people thinking about spending money, but now's also a great time for savers looking to beef up their retirement accounts. The end of the year brings extra income to many households, and if you put it away for your future, it could wind up worth a lot more in the long run. Plus, you might get a sweet tax break this year, too.
Here are four places you can start if you want to set aside more retirement money before we ring in 2023.
1. Claim your 401(k) match if you haven't already
Your 401(k) match expires by the end of the year, so you only have about 10 weeks left to claim it. If you haven't already earned the whole amount you're entitled to, check with your company's HR department or your 401(k) plan administrator to learn how much more you still need to set aside.
Do your best to save as much of your remaining match as possible before Dec. 31, and if you're able to go above and beyond, that's great, too. In order to do this, you'll have to increase the percentage of each paycheck that's diverted to your 401(k). Many companies enable their employees to do this via an online account, but if you don't have one, ask your HR department.
2. Save your year-end bonus
If your employer offers a year-end bonus, consider saving this for retirement rather than spending it. Some 401(k)s enable you to defer some or all of your bonus, just like you would a normal paycheck. But if that's not an option, you can put the money in an IRA, instead.
You can open an IRA account with most brokers and invest your funds in any stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) of your choosing. Plus, you can decide when you want to pay taxes on your funds.
A traditional IRA is the way to go if you want a tax break on your contributions this year, but then you must pay taxes on your withdrawals later. If you'd rather have tax-free withdrawals, consider a Roth IRA instead, but you'll owe taxes on your contributions in the year in which you make them.
Remember to keep track of how close you are to your retirement account's annual contribution limits. You may contribute up to $20,500 to a 401(k) in 2022 and $6,000 to an IRA. These limits rise to $27,000 and $7,000, respectively, for adults 50 and older. If putting your bonus aside for retirement would cause you to exceed these limits, you're better off skipping it.
3. Stash holiday cash gifts in an IRA
It's possible to set aside cash gifts for retirement, as long as your total retirement contributions don't exceed your income for the year. For example, if someone gives you $100 as a gift, you could put that money in an IRA, as long as you've earned at least $100 from a job during the year. It doesn't matter that the $100 you invest isn't the same $100 you earned.
You can't save cash gifts, other than possibly your end-of-year bonus, in a 401(k). These accounts only allow you to withhold money from your paychecks. If you think you may want to set aside money from other sources, open an IRA soon so you're ready.
4. Consider a seasonal job
When money's tight, boosting your income might be the only way you can save for retirement. Fortunately, a lot of employers look for seasonal workers around this time. If you have some extra room in your schedule, you could pick up a part-time seasonal job and put all the cash you earn from it toward retirement.
It might be wise to put this money in a traditional IRA if you don't want to worry about it increasing your tax liability for the year. But weigh this against the long-term benefit of tax-free withdrawals that Roth IRAs offer before deciding what's best for you.
Most of us will have next year -- and many more after -- to save for retirement if we aren't able to save as much as we'd to like this year. But if you can afford to make some 2022 contributions, make these a priority. The longer your savings remain invested, the more they will be worth by the time you retire.
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