You Only Have 3 Months Left to Make These 3 Retirement Moves

I know I’m not the only one wondering how 2022 got away from me so quickly. It feels like I just celebrated the new year last month, and now we’re already closing in on another holiday season. Since I’m a finance writer, that not only makes me think about holiday meals and gifts, but also the fast-approaching deadlines for some key retirement moves.

If any of the three things below were on your financial bucket list for 2022, now’s the time to make them a top priority. You must complete them by Dec. 31 if you still want them to count for this year.

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1. Claiming your 401(k) match

You earn your 401(k) match, assuming your company offers one, by putting money into your 401(k) each year. But you’re only allowed to do this by withholding money from your paychecks. You can’t make lump-sum contributions like you can to an IRA. So if you hope to claim your 401(k) match for 2022, you only have a few weeks left.

Talk with your company’s HR department if you’re unsure how much more you have to contribute to your 401(k) in order to claim your full match. Then, divide this amount by the number of pay periods you have left to see how much you should withhold from each paycheck. For example, if you have to save $1,000 in six pay periods, that breaks down to about $167 per paycheck until the end of the year.

If this isn’t feasible, see if you can make some changes to your budget, like reducing discretionary purchases. Or if you have extra savings sitting around, you could use this to cover your everyday expenses to make up for your smaller paychecks.

2. Maxing out your 401(k)

Since you can’t make any 401(k) contributions for 2022 after Dec. 31, you only have three months left if you hope to max out your 401(k). This year, that means setting aside $20,500 if you’re under 50, or $27,000 if you’re 50 or older. That’s a lofty goal, but if you’re able to achieve it, it will go a long way toward increasing your retirement readiness.

3. Doing Roth IRA conversions

Roth IRA conversions are a way of changing tax-deferred funds held in a traditional IRA or 401(k) into Roth savings. People do this because they want the tax-free withdrawals Roth savings offer them in retirement. Tax-deferred savings don’t offer this benefit. Instead, they give you a tax break in the year you make your contribution.

In order to change tax-deferred into Roth savings, you must pay taxes on the amount you’re converting this year. If you’re only converting a small sum, it may not matter when you do it. But many people choose to wait until the end of the year to do this, especially if they plan to convert large sums over time.

By the end of the year, you probably have a good idea about where you’ll fall in your tax bracket. So you can convert just enough to take you to the top of it without jumping up to the next bracket, which would force you to pay taxes on a larger percentage of your income. Then, the next year, you can do the same thing, and so on, until you’ve converted all that you want to convert.

If you’re interested in doing a Roth IRA conversion for 2022, you must first open a Roth IRA if you don’t already have one. Then, contact the administrator of this account and the account you plan to transfer the funds from to learn what documentation you must fill out. Remember, you’ll have to add the converted funds to your tax bill for the year, so make sure you have the cash on hand to cover this extra expense, if necessary.

You don’t have to make the above moves if you don’t want to, but they’re worth considering if you’re trying to improve your retirement readiness. Don’t panic, though, if you aren’t able to set aside as much as you’d like for retirement by the end of the year. You can always stash extra retirement savings for 2022 in an IRA by making a prior-year contribution before the April tax deadline. Weigh all your options and decide which is right for you.

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