It might seem difficult to save for retirement as a real estate agent when you’re not sure what your income will be from month to month, or when you don’t have an employer-sponsored 401(k). That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however. Preparing for retirement is something you can and should be doing at each stage of your career. Here are some retirement saving strategies that you can review and implement into your personal financial plan.
- Roth IRA
A Roth IRA is an investment strategy you might want to try earlier in your career when you are earning less. That’s because a Roth IRA is funded with post-tax income, meaning you can’t use Roth IRA contributions toward a deduction on your income taxes. If you are earning money at a lower tax threshold and aren’t relying on many deductions to help make your financial strategy work, then a Roth IRA might be a good strategy. Since you’ve already paid tax on the money that goes into a Roth IRA, when you pull the funds out, they aren’t taxed.
- Traditional IRA
If your income is above the limit for a Roth IRA, you can consider a traditional IRA. There are no income limits for a traditional IRA. A traditional IRA can help you reduce your present-day tax bill because deductions are taken in the year they’re made. There are exceptions to this—if you or your spouse are contributing to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might not be eligible to deduct traditional IRA contributions. Remember, if you withdraw money early for reasons that are not exempt, you’ll face a 10 percent penalty. You must be 59.5 years old before you can start withdrawing without penalty. At 70.5 years old, you must begin taking distributions from your fund.
- Solo 401(k)
Just because you don’t have an employer doesn’t mean you can’t fund a 401(k). You could decide to begin funding a solo 401(k), which you can only do if you’re self-employed with no employees. That means if you’re a broker with employees, this likely wouldn’t be the right option for you. Contributions to a Traditional 401(k) are pre-tax, which means they reduce your annual taxable income; however, when it’s time for the funds to be distributed, they are counted as taxable income. Contributions to a Roth 401(k) are made after tax, which means they aren’t taxed when they’re distributed. If your spouse earns income from your business, you can also include them in your Solo 401(k).
- SEP IRA
The SEP IRA is best for self-employed people with no or few employees. You can deduct whichever is less—25 percent of your net self-employment earnings or your contributions. As an employer, whatever percentage you contribute to one employee, you must do for all. You count as an employee, so if you contribute 25 percent for yourself, you must do it for everyone.
Which retirement strategy is best for you?
If you don’t already have a financial planner, now might be the best time to start looking for one. Choosing a retirement savings strategy depends on your personal goals for when you want to retire and what kind of a lifestyle you believe you’ll lead in retirement. A financial planner can help you understand the details of each option available to you and help you paint the appropriate picture for what you want your life to look like down the road. No matter what point you’re at in your career, it’s not too early or too late to make retirement plans.
Yazir Phelps is the chief marketing officer at Real Estate Express, a national leader in online learning for pre-licensing, continuing education and professional development. Phelps has over 18 years of experience in marketing, fueling growth at Fortune 500 organizations, and over five years of experience working directly with real estate professionals. Her extensive background in generating demand for products and services encompasses crucial strategies for a successful career in the field. To learn more, please visit www.RealEstateExpress.com.