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Retirement tricks for freelancers or entrepreneurs

  • If you work for yourself, you can set up an individual 401(k), or solo 401(k) and make tax-deferred contributions for retirement totaling $54,000.
  • HSAs can also help self-employed workers save for medical expenses — and retirement, too.

America's 15 million self-employed workers often feel like they're on their own when it comes to retirement planning, but there are tools that can help.

If you work for yourself, you can set up an individual or solo 401(k), and make tax-deferred contributions for retirement totaling $54,000.

Like a traditional or Roth 401(k), you can sock away $18,000 through a salary deferral (and $24,500 as of 2018 if you're 50 or older), but with a solo 401(k), you can also contribute up to 25 percent of your compensation, up to that $54,000 target. (Since you are both the employer and employee, you have the flexibility to pay yourself and contribute as an employee, an employer or both.)

If you have a high deductible health plan, adding a health savings account, or HSA, can be another great way to grow your nest egg.

  • You can contribute up to $3,400 this year, if you're single.
  • The limit goes to $6,750 for couples and families.
  • You can add an extra $1,000, if you're 55 or older.

The money you put in an HSA has triple tax advantages: The contributions go in pretax, you don't pay a dime as the money grows and you can withdraw it tax-free for qualified medical expenses.

Any money you don't use can be invested and, like in an IRA or 401(k), the gains are tax-deferred. You can use those funds at any time for qualified medical costs or leave them to grow, untouched, adding further cushion for your nest egg.

More from Retire Well:
Here's a little-known way to tap your 401(k) early and penalty free
3 simple tax tricks just for retirees
Don't fall for these common retirement myths