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Here's How to Retire a Millionaire -- Even if You're 30 With $0 Saved

Motley Fool - Fri Apr 12, 5:00AM CDT

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Saving for retirement during your 20s isn't easy. It's tough to part with a chunk of your income when you have pressing bills to pay and, in many cases, credit cards or loans to pay off.

That said, Fidelity advises workers to have the equivalent of 1x their salary saved by age 30. So if you're 30 years old earning $60,000 a year and you have $0 in your individual retirement account (IRA) or 401(k), then, well, you're $60,000 short of where Fidelity thinks you need to be.

But don't despair if you're 30 without retirement savings. Believe it or not, if you commit to saving from this point on, you might not only manage to retire comfortably, but you might end up in a position to kick off retirement with $1 million to your name or more.

It's not too late to play retirement catch-up

If you're 50 years old with no retirement savings, that's a pretty unfortunate spot to land in. If you're 30 with no savings, you're in a very different situation. You still have many decades of work ahead of you. And that gives you a prime opportunity to save and invest before retirement arrives.

Over the past 50 years, the stock market's average annual return has been 10%. If you go heavy on stocks in your retirement portfolio, it's reasonable to assume that your investments might generate that same return.

So let's say that starting at age 30, you manage to sock away $350 a month for retirement. Let's also say you want to retire at age 67, which is full retirement age for Social Security purposes for someone your age.

Assuming the 10% return above, you're looking at a balance of almost $1.39 million by the time your retirement arrives. Make it $450 a month, and you're looking at around $1.78 million.

Even if you can only afford $250 a month in retirement savings from this point onward, that still leaves you with a portfolio worth $990,000 by age 67 (once again, assuming that same 10% return). And while that's not quite $1 million, it's pretty darn close.

Put the process on autopilot

If you've reached the age of 30 without making a single IRA or 401(k) contribution, then it may be hard to get into the habit of saving in one of these plans consistently. A good bet is to commit to a monthly savings contribution and put it on autopilot. If you sign up for your employer's 401(k) plan, your contributions will be deducted from your pay automatically. And that's a good way to stay on track.

If you opt for an IRA, find one with an automatic savings feature. Then, arrange for whatever monthly sum you can swing to leave your checking account every month on a given date and land in your IRA automatically. That could prevent you from spending that money rather than setting it aside for retirement.

Getting to age 30 without retirement savings isn't the best thing in the world, but it's far from the worst. And if you commit to funding a retirement plan from that point forward, you may be surprised -- in a good way -- at just how much wealth you're able to amass for the remainder of your career.

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