5 Tips to Start Saving for Retirement

A new study by Wells Fargo shows more than one-third (34%) of middle-class Americans aren't saving for retirement at all. Here are 5 tips for those who need to get started.

A new study by Wells Fargo shows more than one-third (34%) of middle-class Americans aren’t saving for retirement at all. That’s no 401(k), no IRA, and no other retirement savings vehicle.

“Saving for retirement isn’t easy,” said Joe Ready, the bank’s director of institutional retirement and trust, in a press release. “It requires sacrifice, and it’s not something people can push off and hope to achieve later in their lives.”

Indeed, 68% of respondents said saving for retirement was harder than anticipated. Three-in-five (61%) said they are not sacrificing “a lot” to save for retirement.

Even among those with retirement savings, the median savings was just $20,000, down from $25,000 last year.

Harris Poll conducted the survey on behalf of the bank over the summer. It involved 1,001 telephone interviews with Americans between the ages of 25 and 75, and with a median household income of $63,000.

Wells Fargo lists a number of tips for people eager to start saving for retirement. Here are the bank’s suggestions:

1. Get started saving today. Those with workplace savings plans should invest the maximum pre-tax amount possible. Those without such a plan can set up an automatic savings program and make systematic contributions to a Roth IRA or traditional IRA.

2. Get the company match — if it’s offered. If your employer offers a 401(k) match, make sure you’re taking full advantage of the opportunity.

3. Increase your rate of savings. Check and see if your employer offers the option to automatically increase your contribution amount on a regular basis. Doing so means one less thing to remember, and serves as an easy way to keep your retirement savings on track. You can always limit the automatic increases at a later date if need be.

4. Find out what type of investor you are. Evaluate how much risk you are willing to take with your investment calculator, and use that as a starting point for determining your asset allocation. The bank offers a “Risk Quiz” to help investors self-evaluate. The quiz is available here.

5. Leave your savings alone. It’s important to keep your retirement savings growing in a tax-favored retirement account. The only way to do that is to resist the temptation to withdraw your savings to cover unexpected gaps.