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Research shows Americans require over $1M for retirement

Northwestern Mutual's 2024 Progress and Planning Study found adults expect they need $1.46 million in savings to retire comfortably — an increase of 15% from last year.

While many experts, including O’Leary, advocate for setting retirement funds aside as early as possible, most Americans are juggling other financial responsibilities, like mortgages or student loans.

Managing all this on your own can be overwhelming — but it doesn’t have to be. Professional advisors — like those at Zoe Financial —  can help you create a money management plan. Advisors can guide you on how to grow your nest egg and even help determine your living expenses during retirement.

Zoe connects you with professionally vetted fiduciaries, financial advisors, and financial planners. All you have to do is answer a few questions and their algorithm will match you with the best options for you to choose from.

O’Leary also says he used to advise students to pay their loans off first before saving for retirement, but he’s since changed his tune.

That might be a hard pill to swallow if you have a hefty sum of student debt, but it is possible to prioritize paying off your student loans by opting for a student loan refinance with Credible. A student loan refinance lets you take out a new loan with a lower interest rate or monthly payment. Then, you can use the new loan to pay off your existing debt and instead make monthly payments on your new, more affordable loan.

“You have to do both — pay your loans off and invest a portion of your income every year,” he says, explaining this strategy helps folks get into the discipline of saving money early on.

To help get the most out of the disciplined approach, you should also consider opening a high-yield savings account to give them a better chance to grow to their full potential before retirement. Our list of the Best High Yield Savings Accounts of 2024 is a good place to start.

Contributing 15% to your 401(k) each year

As of 2023, 73% of private industry workers had access to retirement plans through their employer, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. However, a quarter of that group chose not to take advantage of them.

And a recent CNBC Your Money Survey found that some workers aren’t necessarily making the most out of their employer-sponsored plans, with 8% saving only the automatic default amount, and 24% putting away as much as their employer will match.

Of course, not all companies offer 401(k) plans — but there are other options for saving for retirement, like a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. You could also opt for a gold IRA, with help from Goldco, which combines the tax advantages of an IRA with the inflation-resistant properties of gold.

Goldco is a precious metals dealer offering IRAs and direct purchases of precious metals and coins. Gold has historically acted as a hedge against inflation, and many find it to be a more secure place to invest your retirement fund.

O’Leary says Americans should be investing 15% of their annual salary — assuming an average salary of around $60,000 a year — into a 401(k) at minimum to successfully retire.

He points to the abundance of investment apps, which make investing in the stock market far more accessible to the average person than it used to be. An automated investing platform like Wealthfront can help you invest your money in a way that best aligns with your financial goals.

By answering a few questions, Wealthfront helps you determine your risk tolerance and optimal asset allocation. It then crafts a diversified portfolio for you, spanning a range of ETFs — from stocks and bonds to real estate.

Sign up now and they'll help jumpstart your wealthbuilding with an extra $50.

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