Saving for retirement is as important for independent contractors or freelancers as it is for regular employees. Don’t put it off because you don’t know how to start.
The fact is, setting up retirement accounts for yourself is a lot easier than you may think. You can start saving for retirement in just a few simple steps.
1. To keep it simple: Call and ask a trusted financial adviser for help. If you don’t have an adviser right now, consider working with a high-quality, low-fee money management company like Vanguard (www.vanguard.com), T. Rowe Price (www.troweprice.com) or Fidelity (www.fidelity.com). All three companies offer free customer support through toll-free numbers or online services. Call and give them the details of your situation so they can guide you to the retirement account option that’s best for you. Also, be sure to ask questions about the specific contribution limits that will apply. They have the expertise to walk you through this process from start to finish.
2. Want to understand a little more up front? If you’re the type of person who likes to dig deeper before taking action, here are some basics before you call a money management company to set up your account.
* Type of account. Depending on your specific situation, either an individual 401k or a SEP-IRA, might be appropriate for you.
– Individual 401ks. If you own your own business (as a sole proprietor or as a partnership that includes only you and your partner), an individual 401k offers the most generous contribution limits: $18,000 for you as an individual and up to a total of $53,000 from individual contributions and the contribution the business makes on your behalf (employer contribution).
– SEP-IRAs. SEP-IRAs allow contractors to save for retirement by having the employer contribute up to 25% of your total compensation (or $53,000 whichever is less). In addition, you can contribute up to $5,500 as an individual into your SEP or another IRA.
* Contributions may be made up until April 15 for the prior tax year (so, by April 15, 2016, for the 2015 tax year). This is especially helpful because it allows you to see how your year-end numbers look before making your contributions.
* Lifecycle funds. Knowing how much to contribute to your retirement plan is half the battle. Knowing which investments to allocate the funds into is the other half. Retirement fund companies offer “lifecycle funds” that do the allocations, and future shifts to the allocations automatically as you get older. You’ll want to choose a lifecycle fund geared toward your projected retirement date.
Although this may seem like a lot of information to take in, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to understand or remember every single detail. Ask an expert for help – he or she will be able to break down this process for you into a few simple steps.