Saving for retirement can be a lifelong venture.

According to Kenneth C. Kondas, vice president and wealth planner at Chemical Bank in Boardman near Youngstown, and Heathyr Ullmo, assistant vice president and senior commercial banking officer at Geauga Savings Bank in Newbury Township, it doesn’t hurt to add more to the pot as one nears retirement.

“I don’t think anyone is going to have enough money to retire to live a millionaire lifestyle when they retire,” Ullmo said. “So, if you’re able to put more money aside so you don’t have to worry later and enjoy your retirement, you should. This allows you to retire earlier, enjoy retirement and do the things you always wanted to do.”

Kondas added, “If I’m going to air on one side or the other for retirement, I’m going to air on having more money. It’s a sense of comfort. And we’ve seen some volatility return to the market, so adding more to your funds can balance that. Having a little bit more than what you think you need helps people sleep more soundly at night.”

The benefits of padding one’s retirement funds differ.

“It depends on what you’re adding to,” Kondas stated. “Of course, there are limits to what you can put into a 401(k) or IRA. If you’re adding there, you are dealing with tax issues when you’re taking it out. It is like anything else in your life, there needs to be a balance. It all comes down to planning, looking ahead and trying to achieve some sort of balance.”

Ullmo noted each situation is different, so the options are also different. But, she added there is one major downfall of padding a retirement fund.

“The biggest downfall is that you don’t have that money right now anymore,” she said. “(Retirement plans) are forward thinking and that’s the biggest misfortune. The funds (used to pad) aren’t available right now if you need it.”

If individuals are unsure where to begin, both professionals suggest a budget overview.

“The first step in every financial plan is creating a budget,” Kondas noted. “You’d be amazed that so many people aren’t aware of where they are spending their money. So, a budget can tell you where your expenditures are and then you can evaluate where it makes sense to cut back. Do we necessarily need this or that? What kind of impact would that have on our budget going forward?”

Ullmo mirrored this idea, adding cutting back on a budget and dedicating more money to retirement is money not missed.

“If you look at your everyday expenses, your insurance, cable and internet, and recheck how much you have and you’re spending, shop and see what else is out there,” she suggested. “Do what is best for you. If you reevaluate the basic things you pay for every month, you can see if you can save some. You’re already planning to do without it, so you’re moving it into a different pocket.”

Regardless, it’s best to prepare for retirement with a plan.

“Have a plan,” Kondas said. “You can’t take action and make any decisions unless you know where you are currently. If you’re overfunded for your goals, that is great. But, if you’re underfunded, you might need to work longer.”

Ullmo added, “Prepare now for later. Knowing is half the battle. If you can prepare now and put things in order, it’s less stressful later. It’s easier to make clear decisions when you’re not nearing a deadline. You’re making the right decisions for you without having to worry about outside influences.”

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