Racking up $1 million for retirement is still possible, depending on the amount of time you have, your strategy, and market conditions.

Many Americans believe they’ll need $1.46 million to retire comfortably, according to a recent Northwestern Mutual survey. If you’re over 50 and nowhere near that number, you’re probably feeling anxious. However, with discipline, consistency, and education, you still have a shot at getting closer to the million-dollar mark before you hang up your working shoes.

Below, we’ve jotted down a few steps you can take this year to get closer to your retirement goals.

Do we really need $1M to retire? This economist says, nope, not even close. Here’s why.

Start where you are

Before you start dumping money into various accounts, it’s important to assess your current financial situation. This will give you a better idea of your financial strengths and identify any potential habits that could interfere with your financial plan. Here are a few moves to consider:

  • Calculate your net worth: Jot down all your assets, including savings accounts, certificates of deposit, and retirement accounts. Then subtract all your liabilities, such as credit card debt and personal loans, from your assets to find out your net worth. This will give you a snapshot of where your finances stand right now.
  • Review your income and expenses: Tally up all the money you earn from different sources and start tracking your monthly expenses to see where your money is going. If you need to start earning more money, consider using your expertise to pick up a profitable side gig.
  • Beef up your emergency fund: In BlackRock CEO Larry Fink’s annual letter to investors, he mentioned that people with emergency savings are 70% more likely to save for retirement. Do whatever you can to make it easier for you to stash more money away for retirement.

Make the most of your workplace benefits

After you understand your numbers, explore your workplace benefits. Many employers offer retirement plans like a 401(k) to help you save in a tax-advantaged way. In 2024, you can contribute up to $30,500 to a 401(k), thanks to the $7,500 catch-up contribution for employees age 50 or older. Contributing $30,500 annually with a historical 10% return could make you a millionaire in about 15 years.

If you’re retiring sooner, you can still reach your goal by taking advantage of rising contribution limits and stashing money in other accounts now. Your employer may even offer a 401(k) match, employee stock purchase plan (ESPP), restricted stock units (RSUs), and other perks to help you build wealth at work. If you’re self-employed, you can look into other types of accounts such as a simplified employee pension (SEP) IRA.

Max out individual retirement accounts

If you want to supercharge your retirement savings, you can contribute to an individual retirement account (IRA) in addition to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. You’ll have more flexibility with your IRAs because your employer doesn’t control the account. It’s something you open and manage on your own so you’ll have access to more investment options, including:

For 2024, savers 50 or older can contribute up to $8,000 to an IRA, such as a Roth or traditional. Let’s say you want to accumulate half a million dollars in a 401(k) and aim to have at least $250,000 in an IRA. If you invest $8,000 this year, continue to contribute the maximum each year as limits rise, and earn an average return of 10%, you could potentially reach your IRA goal in less than 15 years. You could also look into self-directed IRAs if you want a wider selection of investment options.

Invest in taxable brokerage accounts

If you’ve maxed out all your retirement accounts or simply looking for more investment options to grow your savings, you can look into taxable brokerage accounts. Unlike retirement accounts, taxable brokerage accounts have no contribution limits so you’ll be able to invest as much as you want. They also provide more flexibility, as you can access your money at any time without penalties. Plus, you can take advantage of tax-loss harvesting to help you reduce your tax bill.

You may be closer than you think

The more money you start with in your retirement accounts right now, the easier it will be to reach your goals. Tucking away money in employer-sponsored retirement plans, IRAs, and taxable brokerage accounts makes it more feasible to reach the million-dollar mark even after you’ve turned 50. Keep in mind that stock market returns aren’t guaranteed, so it’s hard to determine exactly how long it will take to achieve your goal. Start by assessing your current numbers, then create a game plan for this year to put yourself on the path to a millionaire retirement.

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The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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