Small salary? Here's how to save for retirement

By Dan Rafter

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Feb. 20 2014 10:45 a.m. MST

Take advantage of tax credits. Ross recommends that low-earners take advantage of the Savers Credit available from the IRS. This credit, which is worth up to $1,000 for individuals or $2,000 for couples, can be claimed by low-income earners who contribute to IRAs, 401(k) plans or other workplace retirement accounts. Couples who are married and filing their taxes jointly can claim this tax credit if they make up to $60,000 in gross income in 2014. Those workers who are single or married but filing separately can claim the credit if they have a gross income of $30,000 or less in 2014.

Prioritize your savings. Gallegos says that low-earners have to be especially diligent about saving for retirement. This means forgoing such luxuries as those take-out cups of coffee in the morning or that newest video-game system.

"We all want our kids to have the newest and greatest stuff," Gallegos says. "But spending too much on unnecessary items can hurt your retirement plans. Not everyone can have the newest Wii or Xbox. You have to be realistic."

Make it automatic. Ross says that the easiest way for low-earners to save for retirement is to automate the process. For workers whose companies offer 401(k) or other retirement savings plans, this means automatically contributing a portion of every paycheck to these plans, no matter how small the amount. Those who don't have access to such employer-provided plans should set up a regular direct deposit from their paycheck into another savings vehicle.

"That way, you don't miss it. After awhile, you don't even realize that money is gone," Ross says. "And that you've saved up a nice amount of money for your retirement."

Use extra money to your advantage. Anytime you earn a bit of extra money, make sure to save some of it for retirement, Ross says. If you're expecting a tax refund this year, he recommends saving that extra money for retirement. The same holds true if you take on a second job — make sure to use at least some of that extra income for retirement, Ross says.

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