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Top 3 Retirement Planning Tips for Gig Economy Workers

The so-called gig economy is reshaping the way companies sell products and services, and it’s having an impact on how its workers plan their financial futures. While freelancers and independent contractors may have more flexibility, their jobs typically don’t come with built-in retirement plans. If you’re part of the gig economy, here’s how you can plan for retirement.

Find out now: How much do I need to save for retirement?

1. Know What Your Options Are

There are many different kinds of retirement accounts. For example, there are Simplified Employee Pensions (SEP-IRAs), SIMPLE IRAs, Roth IRAs and traditional IRAs. All of these plans offer tax-advantaged ways to save but they differ in terms of who can contribute and how much someone can squirrel away.

If you’re part of the gig economy and you’re self-employed (and you don’t have any employees), you might want to consider contributing to a 401(k). For tax year 2016, you can save up to $18,000 in this kind of retirement account.

SEP-IRAs and SIMPLE IRAs can be great tools for independent contractors who want to prepare for retirement. If you can’t decide where to stash your savings, you can think about your long-term withdrawal strategy or just opt for the plan with the highest annual contribution limit.

Related Article: How to Start Saving in an IRA

2. Prioritize Your Savings

Top 3 Retirement Planning Tips for Gig Economy Workers

One challenging aspect of working in the gig economy is getting paid on an irregular basis. Instead of receiving a steady paycheck monthly or bi-weekly, you may be paid sporadically as you complete tasks or assignments. Not having a set pay schedule can make saving money difficult.

One way to boost your savings is to set aside a certain percentage of your income each time you receive a payment from a client. Even if you can only save 5% of each paycheck, that’s better than not saving anything at all.

3. Look Beyond Retirement Accounts

Saving money in a qualified retirement plan is just one way to prepare for retirement. Not having a regular job also means that you’ll miss out on certain job benefits, like health and disability insurance. Having enough insurance coverage is important because if you get sick and can’t work, you might not be able to cover basic expenses.

Building an emergency fund is another way to set aside money for the future. Having three to six months’ worth of expenses tucked away in a savings account is particularly important when you’re self-employed. Without an emergency fund to fall back on, you may have to rack up credit card debt or raid your retirement accounts to pay for unexpected expenses.

Related Article: 4 Unique Ways to Save More for Retirement

Final Word

Top 3 Retirement Planning Tips for Gig Economy Workers

Whether you’re an Uber driver or a freelance writer, it’s important to make saving for retirement a top priority. Even if you don’t have access to a 401(k) or a similar employer-sponsored plan, there are plenty of ways to start building your nest egg.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/ichael Krinke, ©iStock.com/BrianAJackson, ©iStock.com/Ridofranz

Rebecca Lake Rebecca Lake has been writing about the nuts and bolts of personal finance for nearly a decade. She is an expert in investing, retirement and home buying topics. Her work has been featured on The Huffington Post, Business Insider, CBS News, U.S. News & World Report and Investopedia. As a homeschooling mom of two, she's always looking for ways to make the most of every dollar.
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