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    If You’re in the Homestretch Before Retirement, It’s Time to ‘Floor It’

    moneymattersAs people enter their 50s and early 60s, earnings from work or other income sources often begin to reach a peak. In many instances, this also happens at the same time some expenses decrease—people might not need to worry about college tuition costs for kids, or perhaps they paid off the home mortgage.

    Based on all of these factors, people may have more discretionary money available during this period than at any other time in life. You may or may not find yourself in this exact situation, but one thing is clear—the last decade or two you spend working is a great opportunity to build financial security for retirement.

    This fact seems to hit home as individuals reach their 50th birthday. There is a greater sense of urgency about finding ways to stash more money away for retirement savings—either workplace plans like a 401(k) or other accounts such as an IRA. Whatever savings vehicle you use, it makes sense to set aside as much money as possible to protect the ability to enjoy your desired lifestyle in retirement.

    Those nearing retirement have a chance to ‘catch up’

    While tax laws may restrict how much money you can direct to a workplace savings plan or IRA on an annual basis, once you reach age 50, you have more flexibility. Provisions in the tax code allow for “catch-up” contributions to these types of tax-advantaged savings plans. Assuming you’ve earned sufficient income, in 2014, those who will reach age 50 and older can contribute:

    •   Up to $23,000 to a traditional 401(k), 403(b) or most 457 plans. By comparison, those under age 50 are limited to contributions of no more than $17,500 per year.

    •   Up to $14,500 to a SIMPLE 401(k) plan (compared to the standard limit of $12,000).

    •   As much as $6,500 per year to an IRA (either traditional or Roth IRA or a combination of the two). That’s $1,000 more than is allowed for those under age 50.

    The extra several thousand dollars you are allowed to invest in tax-deferred accounts can make a big difference if you take advantage of it year-after-year.

    Making the most of your closing years of work

    Maximizing retirement plan contributions and other savings targeted for retirement funding is critical as your working life winds down. It represents the last best chance for you to accumulate wealth to achieve your financial goals for your post-working years. Here are some things you might want to consider doing:

    •   Contribute as much as you can to your workplace savings plan. If your employer offers a matching contribution, you’ll want to at least contribute enough to fully capitalize on the match. If possible, contribute the maximum amount allowed.

    •   Add money to your IRA and, if possible, try to build some money in a Roth IRA to take advantage of the potential of tax-free withdrawals later in life.

    •   Set additional dollars aside in savings or brokerage accounts if you’ve maximized contributions to retirement accounts.

    There are many variables to think about when it comes to planning for retirement. Consider talking with a financial professional to help make sure you’re on track for your specific retirement goals.

    Brandon Miller, CFP and Joanne Jordan, CFP are financial consultants at Jordan Miller & Associates, A Private Wealth Advisory Practice of Ameriprise Financial Inc. in San Francisco, specializing in helping LGBT individuals and families plan and achieve their financial goals.