We are currently experiencing a major economic shift. Workers in the past could have expected to stay with a steady job for many decades. But today’s workers must find a way to make a living from freelance work or supplement their low-paying traditional jobs.
Although you can make a decent living in the gig economy, it leaves gig workers vulnerable in one important way: retirement planning.
Many gig workers lack enough savings to retire without the support of their employers. Betterment recently reported that seven out of ten full-time gig workers are not prepared to continue their lifestyles after retirement. Three out of ten say they don’t save enough money to retire.
What can a gig worker do when they don’t want the responsibility of driving for Uber or taking TaskRabbit jobs into their 70s and 80s? These are five things you can do to save money for retirement as a gig worker.
Top 5 Tips Gig Economy Workers Can Save for Retirement
1. Take stock of what you have
Many people don’t know how much money they have. It’s difficult to plan your retirement without knowing where you are right now. You should begin your retirement savings by looking at what you have in your accounts.
Add up the amount in your savings and checking accounts, any retirement accounts that you have neglected from your previous jobs, cash-on-hand if you depend on cash tips or other financial accounts. If you haven’t taken stock of your financial situation recently, the sum could be more than you realize.
Even if your finances are nothing more than a few quarters and some pocket lint, it is better to be aware of where you stand than to try to guess at your financial future.
2. Open an IRA
You should set up a retirement account if you don’t have one that you can contribute to. If you don’t have a retirement account, it’s impossible to save for retirement.
An individual investor can open an IRA online. If you have money from your 401k, you have more options. Some IRAs require a minimum of $1,000 investment. You may choose a Roth IRA if you have less money to open an account.
Taxes are what distinguish the Roth IRA from the traditional IRA. You can fund your traditional IRA with pre-tax income.
You can put money in an IRA to fund it with pre-tax income. Once you retire, however, you will be subject to ordinary income tax on IRA distributions. Roth IRAs can be funded with money that has been taxed and you can withdraw tax-free when you retire.
Because of the low tax burden, many gig workers opt for a Roth IRA. A Roth IRA can be used to protect your retirement assets from the taxman if you expect to earn more in the future.
Regardless of whether you choose a Roth IRA or a traditional IRA the annual contribution limit is $5,500 for those under 50 and $6,500 for anyone over 50.
3. Avoid the bite of investment fees
While it is not ideal for investors to lose their portfolio growth due to fees, gig workers should choose asset allocations that minimize investment fees. Because gig workers have less money to invest, every dollar must be working hard.
Index funds are a great way to ensure that your retirement account doesn’t get sucked dry by high investment fees. Index funds are mutual funds designed to replicate a particular market index like the S&P 500. Index funds do not have a portfolio manager and are therefore free of management fees.
4. Embrace automation
Being a gig worker presents many challenges. Your income can fluctuate, making it difficult to plan for a monthly contribution. Technology is here to help.
Set up an automatic transfer to a certain amount that you won’t miss. Whether you have $50 to spare each week or $5 monthly, having a small amount of money slowly moving into your IRA will give you a little cushion you don’t need to think about.
You can then use a savings app for retirement savings. Digit will analyze your checking account’s inflow and outflow to help you determine the safe amount to save. The Digit software will automatically transfer the amount to savings. You can transfer your Digit savings to your retirement account.
5. Invest found money
A great way to ensure you are contributing the maximum amount each year is to redefine what “found money” means. If you get a birthday gift from your grandmother, spend only half of it, and keep the rest in your retirement fund.
You can also send half of a tax refund to your retirement account if it comes in the form of a refund from your employer, which is less likely if gig workers pay quarterly estimated taxes.
Gig workers who receive cash often can set their own rules for how much cash they get. You could make a rule that $5 of every $5 you receive must go to retirement savings. That will help you change your view of the money and give you a way to boost your retirement savings.