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5 Steps to Becoming a Retirement Millionaire

By Richard Tatum, President of Retirement Services

Who wants to be a retirement millionaire? Well, everyone.

But what does “retirement millionaire” actually mean?

This phrase is often thrown around on personal finance sites and message boards by people encouraging you to retire with one million dollars in your account. That’s a lot of money! In truth, the amount you should save depends on your unique financial situation. Rather than reaching for that golden number of “$1M”, you should aim to figure out what amount your nest egg should be depending on your personal lifestyle and circumstances. Once that’s done, you must make a conscious effort to achieve your retirement goals.

The good news is that with these five steps below, you can get closer to that ideal retirement amount - whatever that number may be. Here’s what to do:

  1. Start investing at work - Most people's first (and often only) retirement savings accounts are through their employers. Take advantage of your company's retirement plan if they offer one and sign up as soon as you are eligible. If your employer doesn’t offer one, ask your financial advisor about opening an IRA (individual retirement account), which is also a tax-advantaged retirement savings account, but it doesn’t require a company to sponsor the account to open one.
  2. Start early - There's a reason why Einstein called compounding the eighth wonder of the world! Compound interest is the interest you earn on top of interest - and that can really add up. If your account increases from investing properly, the impact of growth over time can make a huge impact. Compounding interest works best the younger you are since your money will have more time to grow itself over an extended period.
  3. Increase your contributions automatically -  Every time you get a raise, give your future self a raise and increase your contributions to your retirement plan. You may also be able to schedule automatic increases annually, so you don't even have to think about it. Chances are you won't notice the money missing from your paycheck, but it'll make a massive difference in your retirement account!
  4. Take advantage of your employer's match - Employers will often match a certain percentage of your retirement plan contributions. Make sure you're putting in enough to at least get the maximum they will contribute -- it's free money!
  5. Max out your 401(k) - While maxing out your 401(k) might be difficult if you're early in your career, it often becomes more attainable over time. As an individual under 50, you can contribute up to $19,500 to your retirement plan in 2021. Catch-up contributions for employees over 50 are bumped to $26,000. If you follow the above tips, you'll be maxing out your accounts in no time!