Gig and nontraditional workers aren’t so confident they’ll have enough money in retirement, a new study found – but there are ways to build a comfortable nest egg.
Retirement Tip of the Week: If you’re working a nontraditional job, or in the gig economy, the pressures of saving for retirement may be entirely on you. Take the initiative if the companies you work for don’t – your future self will thank you for it.
Running out of money is a top concern for many Americans – especially those who work in the gig economy and may not have access to a retirement plan at their jobs. More than half of nontraditional workers – 54.5% – say they’re worried they won’t have enough money in retirement, and another 47.7% said they’re not confident they’ll have a comfortable retirement, according to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts survey of 1,000 people.
Nontraditional workers include those who are in the gig economy, such as ridesharing or delivery services, as well as temporary help agency work, sole proprietorships, day and seasonable labor, Pew said. There’s no clear figure for how much of the workforce is composed of nontraditional workers, Pew said – estimates range from just 3.8% to more than 40%, depending on different data sets and definitions.
Regardless, more than half of nontraditional workers have not tried to figure out their retirement needs, the Pew survey found.
Not all Americans have access to an employer-sponsored retirement account, such as a 401(k), even when they’re working traditional 9-to-5 jobs. That gap is even wider for nontraditional workers, however. There are some companies that offer retirement benefits, but many gig workers must set up accounts on their own and stay on top of those contributions.
Retirement savings may often be an “afterthought,” but being proactive about saving for the future can make a world of difference – in dollars and lifestyle. The sooner someone begins saving for retirement, the higher the potential for those assets to grow over time thanks to compound interest.
Traditional and Roth IRAs are two of the most common vehicles for workers looking to save for retirement on their own. Traditional accounts are contributed with pre-tax dollars, which means investors pay taxes on their withdrawals during retirement, while Roth accounts are funded with after-tax dollars, and thus their distributions are tax-free if done correctly. Contribution limits for IRAs aren’t as generous as 401(k) plans – in 2022, workers are allowed to save up to $6,000 in an IRA each year (or $7,000 if they’re 50 and older). (Comparatively, 401(k) contributions limits are $20,500 per year, or $27,000 for people 50 and older.)
With IRAs, or other types of savings and investing accounts, retirement savers can set up automatic contributions so that it feels almost the same as a 401(k) – that is, the money is automatically being moved into those accounts without having to initiate the transfer every month or after every payday. Ask your bank or investment firm how to set that up.
For those whose income fluctuates month to month, consider finding a minimum amount of money that can still be contributed each month and then make a note to contribute an additional amount after assessing cash flow at the end of that time period. Others may want to look at excess cash flow in time intervals, such as once a quarter or every six months, and contribute to a retirement account after that analysis.
There are other retirement account options, including simplified employee pension plans (also called SEPs), solo 401(k) plans and SIMPLE IRAs. Gig workers should consult with a financial planner or tax professional before pursuing these possibilities, as set-up and maintenance can be complicated.