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1. Rethink your current expenses

If you’re 58 years old, you may, conceivably, have another decade of working years ahead of you, in which case it’s time to start carving out room for retirement plan contributions. To that end, take a deep dive into your current expenses and identify ways to cut back on spending.

If you’re a recent empty-nester, consider downsizing to a less expensive home. You may also be able to go from a two-car household to a single car, especially if you’ve largely shifted to at-work home.

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2. Begin funding an IRA or 401(k) plan immediately

Maxing out an IRA or 401(k) would be a great way to catch up on retirement savings. But if you’re used to saving nothing, maxing out may not be feasible.

So instead, save something each month starting now, and plan to ramp up as you continue to tweak your budget and spending. If you contribute $500 a month to a retirement plan over the next year, you’ll have a $6,000 nest egg to start with, which beats $0.

3. Snag your full 401(k) match

If you have access to a 401(k) through an employer that you're not participating in, you may be giving up free money for your retirement. Vanguard reports that as of 2023, 95% of the retirement plans on its platform offered either an employer matching contribution, non-matching contribution or a combination of the two as an incentive.

If your employer’s 401(k) comes with a match, your near-term goal should be to contribute enough to that workplace plan to snag that match in full. If your employer matches 100% of contributions up to $3,000 per year, putting in $3,000 from your own paycheck gets you to a $6,000 balance after 12 months.

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4. Boost your income with a second job

An income boost could greatly improve your retirement picture. Not only should a lift in earnings make it easier to fund a retirement plan, but it could also set you up for a higher Social Security benefit. That’s why it pays to embrace the gig economy.

Gig work can be flexible so it seamlessly fits into your schedule. And if you’re thinking these types of jobs are just a millennial thing, you should know that a good 40% of adults aged 43 to 58 had a side hustle as of 2023, according to AARP. So did 24% of Americans aged 59 to 77. If a side hustle allows you to fund a retirement plan with $500 a month over the next 10 years, that gives you $79,000 in savings, assuming a relatively conservative 6% return during that period.

5. Plan to postpone your retirement date

A 2024 Northwestern Mutual survey finds that Americans expect to work until age 65 on average. But if you’re a mere seven years away without savings, you may need to plan to work a bit longer.

But you don’t necessarily have to work a traditional job from now until retirement. If your initial thought was to retire at 65, on top of working your primary job, spend the next few years setting the stage for a more creative job you might enjoy shifting into for those extra years in the workforce.

Working longer doesn’t just mean having more opportunities to boost your savings. It also means getting to leave your savings untouched for a longer period of time, which could be key to making a smaller nest egg last.


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Maurie Backman Freelance Writer

Maurie Backman is a freelance contributor to Moneywise, who has more than a decade of experience writing about financial topics, including retirement, investing, Social Security, and real estate.


The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.