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Use this year-end checklist to make sure you're on track with your retirement savings goals

You don't have to figure it all out on your own; a financial planner can offer valuable tips.

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BartekSzewczyk | Getty

The end of the year is fast approaching, and given the high-inflation environment, rounds of layoffs and investment account contribution limit changes, it may be a good time to re-evaluate a few things related to your retirement savings goals.

Below, Select shares insight on what you should consider to stay on track with your retirement savings as we close out 2022.

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Adjust your savings expectations accordingly

The amount of money you'll need in retirement highly depends on the lifestyle you want to have during those years. So it's important to consider this carefully so you can avoid outliving your retirement savings — or even over-sacrificing when you're younger.

Maybe you need to make a plan for saving a little more money each month. Or perhaps you actually don't need to be as aggressive in your retirement savings next year. You might even find that for whatever reason, you won't be able to save as much for retirement next year as you did this year. A financial planner can help you decide how to adjust what you save based on your goals and living situation.

Make sure you've been contributing enough to your 401(k)

A good rule of thumb with your 401(k) is to contribute at least enough to get your full employer match if you have one. A company match is additional money from your employer that's put into your 401(k), so you want to make sure you take advantage of that. Otherwise, you're basically leaving "free" money on the table that can help you reach your retirement goals a lot faster.

The match amount varies by employer so if you aren't sure if you're contributing enough to meet your employer's match, look for those details in your employee handbook or reach out to your company's HR team.

Increase your 401(k) contributions for next year

Some 401(k) plans allow you to automatically increase your contributions by 1% at the end of each calendar year. This allows you to go on "autopilot" and save a little more money for retirement without having to think twice about it.

If your contributions are not automatically increased each year, you can always manually increase your contributions by logging into your account or contacting your HR representative. This can help you be a little more aggressive with your retirement savings and you likely won't miss the money in your paycheck.

Max out your IRA accounts

Both traditional IRA's and Roth IRA's have contribution limits ($6,000 for 2022 and $6,500 for 2023). However, these limits are use-it-or-lose-it, meaning if you don't hit that contribution limit, the amount you have left will not roll over into the new year. So let's say you only contribute $5,000 for 2022; you will not be able to contribute that extra $1,000 in 2023 to make up for it.

Not maxing out your account one time probably won't throw your retirement plan off-track too much, but you don't want to make a habit out of consistently not contributing enough to your IRA accounts.

If you can't hit that $6,000 limit in the remainder of this year, the good news is that you'll have until the tax-filing deadline (April 18, 2023) to have your contributions apply for 2022.

If you don't already have a traditional or Roth IRA, you still have time to open one and contribute. Select ranked Charles Schwab, Betterment, Vanguard, Fidelity Investments and E*TRADE as some of the companies offering the best IRAs.

Vanguard

  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. No minimum to open a Vanguard account, but minimum $1,000 deposit to invest in many retirement funds; robo-advisor Vanguard Digital Advisor® requires minimum $3,000 to enroll

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Zero commission fees for stock and ETF trades; zero transaction fees for over 3,000 mutual funds; $20 annual service fee for IRAs and brokerage accounts unless you opt into paperless statements; robo-advisor Vanguard Digital Advisor® charges up to 0.20% in advisory fees (after 90 days)

  • Bonus

    None

  • Investment vehicles

    Robo-advisor: Vanguard Digital Advisor® IRA: Vanguard Traditional, Roth, Rollover, Spousal and SEP IRAs Brokerage and trading: Vanguard Trading Other: Vanguard 529 Plan

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, ETFs and options

  • Educational resources

    Retirement planning tools

Terms apply.

Check in with your CFP

You can schedule an appointment with a CFP at any time of the year, but if it's been a while since you last spoke with one (or have never spoken with one) you may be due for an end-of-year checkup. You should consider chatting with a CFP especially if you have major life changes coming up in the new year — like a move to a new city, a home purchase, a change in employment, etc. — so they can help you create a solid financial plan for those events.

Here are some other areas where a certified financial planner can be of assistance:

If you want to find a financial planner, start by finding out if your employer offers financial planning services as an employee benefit. This could be a good, non-intimidating place to start working with a financial professional. Plus, depending on the company's terms, the service may be complimentary through your employer.

Or, you can try searching for a financial planner using a service like Zoe Financial, which can match you with a list of professionals who specialize in your concerns.

Rebalance your portfolio

If you feel like you need to make any changes to your investment portfolio, now might be a good time to consider exploring what adjustments will be best for you and your financial goals. Talking with a financial planner can help you decide if this step is necessary and what assets you should be investing in instead. Typically, individuals who are nearing retirement or who have had a change in investment risk tolerance might want to consider rebalancing their portfolios.

Robo-advisors like Wealthfront and Betterment actually allow users to automatically rebalance their asset allocations based on things like risk tolerance, time horizon and financial goals. It's more of a hands-off approach for those who would prefer to take on a less active role in managing their investments.

Wealthfront

  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. $500 minimum deposit for investment accounts

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. Zero account, transfer, trading or commission fees (fund ratios may apply). Wealthfront annual management advisory fee is 0.25% of your account balance

  • Bonus

    None

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash. Additional asset classes to your portfolio include real estate, natural resources and dividend stocks

  • Educational resources

    Offers free financial planning for college planning, retirement and homebuying

Terms apply.

Betterment

  • Minimum deposit and balance

    Minimum deposit and balance requirements may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For example, Betterment doesn't require clients to maintain a minimum investment account balance, but there is a ACH deposit minimum of $10. Premium Investing requires a $100,000 minimum balance.

  • Fees

    Fees may vary depending on the investment vehicle selected. For Betterment Digital Investing, 0.25% of your fund balance as an annual account fee; Premium Investing has a 0.40% annual fee

  • Bonus

    Up to $5,000 managed free for a year with a qualifying deposit within 45 days of signup. Valid only for new individual investment accounts with Betterment LLC

  • Investment vehicles

  • Investment options

    Stocks, bonds, ETFs and cash

  • Educational resources

    Betterment offers retirement and other education materials

Terms apply. Does not apply to crypto asset portfolios.

Of course, if you want a better understanding of why certain assets should be reallocated and need answers to more nuanced questions, working with a financial planner is always a valuable experience.

Bottom line

Whether you're about to enter retirement or have several decades before you'll need to make the transition, it's always a good idea to give yourself an end-of-year pulse check on your retirement savings. Of course, you don't have to manage it all on your own. Working with a financial planner can help you make intentional moves for staying in-line with your retirement goals.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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