Financial wellness is the knowledge of personal finance which enables healthier financial decisions to achieve one's goals, and to enhance the overall quality of life. OPERS wants to partner with you throughout your career to help you gain a better understanding of your financial wellness so you can build a secure retirement in the future.
What is a "Retirement Gap?"
Your retirement "gap" is the difference between the amount of income you will have in retirement and the amount you will need. Knowing your retirement gap is an important first step in defining a personal map toward financial wellness. Knowing how to close the gap is the next step.
Identifying your gap and having a plan in place to close that gap are part of building a secure retirement.
You can close the gap between how much you'll have in retirement and how much you'll need in a number of ways.
Two of the easiest ways to close your gap are by working a few years longer or and taking an unreduced benefit and by participating in Ohio Deferred Compensation.
Working a Few Years Longer
Working longer – even just three to five years longer – can increase your monthly retirement benefit.
To see just how much, check out the front page of your annual statement. You'll be able to see how much more you can earn if you beyond your earliest eligibility for both a reduced and unreduced benefit.
Or, just take a look at the following example:
- Jane, a group C member with a final average salary of $50,000 wants to replace 80% of her FAS, or $3,333.
- If Jane works until she reaches the minimum requirement for a reduced benefit (age 57 or 25 years) her monthly benefit will be $1,079 or 26% of her FAS and her gap would be $2,254.
- If Jane works until she reaches the minimum requirements for an unreduced benefit (55, 32 years) her monthly benefit will be $2,938 or 70% of her FAS and her gap would shrink to $395.
Take Advantage of Ohio Deferred Compensation
As an OPERS member you have a unique opportunity to contribute to Ohio Deferred Compensation, a 457(b) retirement plan specifically for Ohio public employees. This plan is an easy way to supplement your pension.
Ohio Deferred Compensation provides you with educational tools, a diverse set of investment options, flexible savings and withdrawal options, as well as portability when changing jobs within the public sector.
OPERS and Ohio Deferred Compensation even share the same Board members, so the same people looking out for your retirement are looking out for your savings.
Some of the benefits of participating in Ohio Deferred Compensation include:
- No 10 percent tax penalty for early withdrawals (IRA, 401(k), and 403(b) plans may be subject to this penalty for withdrawals prior to age 59½). If you leave public employment, you can make withdrawals at any age.
- No restrictions on withdrawals. Amounts can be changed as necessary.
- NO sales charges, no loads, no commissions or other sales expenses.
- Full disclosure of all administrative fees and investment expenses.
Enroll in Ohio Deferred Compensation
Enrolling in Ohio Deferred Compensation is easy. You can choose a no-hassle target date fund with the EZ Enrollment Form, or you can choose from any of the program's investment options.
Contribute to Other Retirement Savings Plans
Individual Retirement Account (IRAs) are retirement accounts owned and funded by you, the individual, not your employer.
Two common types of IRAs are traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. You may qualify for one or both types, but it's important to speak with a financial advisor or your bank to see which one is the best option for you.
A traditional IRA is a tax-deferred retirement savings account. You only pay taxes on your money when you make withdrawals in retirement, which you must begin taking at age 70 ½. Most people qualify for a traditional IRA – if you (or your spouse) earn taxable income and you're under the age of 70 ½, you can contribute.
There are two kinds of traditional IRAs: deductible and nondeductible. A deductible IRA can lower your tax bill by allowing you to deduct your contributions on your tax return. A nondeductible IRA is funded with after-tax dollars and you cannot deduct contributions on your tax return.
Roth IRA contributions are made after-tax, meaning you've already paid taxes on the money you put into it. Although your contributions are not eligible for a tax credit, you won't have to pay taxes on withdrawals. And you can with draw your money at any time without any penalties. Another advantage of a Roth IRA is there is no minimum distribution age – that means you can live to 100 without ever having to withdraw from your account.
Contributions to a Roth IRA are limited by your income level, so you may want to consult a financial advisor to talk to someone at your local bank to see if you qualify.
Learn More about IRAs
To learn more about IRAs and other retirement savings plans, visit IRS.gov.
Consider Additional Retirement Income
Your work history could determine if you'll receive any additional retirement income that could help close your gap.
For instance, if you worked for a private employer you may have an old 401(k) or you may qualify for a Social Security benefit. This is something you should consider when assessing your retirement income and ways to close your gap.
A 401(k) is a defined contribution plan usually sponsored by a private sector employer, intended for long-term retirement saving. Typically, you would contribute pre-tax money each payday into an account set up for you by the 401(k) plan, and invest that money so that it can grow tax-deferred. When you withdraw money from the plan, it's taxed as ordinary income.
If you have a 401(k) from a previous employer. It's a good idea to contact your previous employer and find out if you are vested in your old 401(k), or speak with a financial advisor to see if you could benefit from rolling over your 401(k) into another retirement savings account.
If you worked for a private employer, you likely paid into Social Security. Your Social Security benefit could provide additional retirement income, but that amount will vary from person to person and will be impacted by a number of factors.
The length of time you worked in the private sector could determine the amount of your Social Security benefit; however, your Social Security benefit could also be impacted by the amount of time you worked for the public sector. Your OPERS retirement benefit could reduce the amount of your Social Security benefit due to two provisions: the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO).
The WEP affects how your Social Security benefit is calculated by taking into account your OPERS benefits. Your OPERS benefits may also reduce the amount of Social Security benefits you may be eligible to receive on your spouse's Social Security participation. This type of benefit reduction is called Government Pension Offset (GPO).
The Social Security Administration provides online calculators to help you estimate your Social Security benefit with the WEP and GPO reductions.
- Bridging the Gap to Retirement (link opens in new tab)
When it comes to improving your overall finances and economic wellbeing it's important to know where your money is coming from and where you are spending your income.
Creating a personal budget allows you to plan for how you will spend and save your money each month and keep track of your spending patterns. Though making a budget may sound like an intimidating task, it's vital to keeping your financial house in order.
The Golden Rule of Personal Finance: Pay Yourself First
Paying yourself first involves:
- Build a retirement account
- Create an emergency fund
- Save for short and long-term goals
The advantage of "paying yourself first" out of your paycheck is that you build up accounts to secure your future and create a cushion for financial emergencies.
Know Where Your Money is Going
A personal budget can help you identify where your money is coming from, how much you have and where you're spending your money each month.
- Identify and record your total monthly household income
- Document your monthly expenses
- Total your monthly expenses
Know If Your Expenses Exceed Your Income
Once you know how much income you have and where it's going, you may realize your expenses exceed your incoming. By having a personal budget, you can make adjustments to your expenses or spending and improve your financial situation. Quite often, by reallocating small portions of your income little-by-little, you can begin making positive changes.
Ways to adjust your budget:
- Explore ways to increase your income
- Cut your living expenses
- Lower your debt
- Seek help from a professional
Organizing Your Expenses with the 50-20-30 Rule
The 50-20-30 budgeting rule is a quick and easy budgeting method where you divide your paycheck into three categories:
- Your Needs: 50% of your paycheck should be set aside for the essentials, the core things you need to live.
- Debt Reduction and Savings: 20% of your paycheck is for debt repayments and savings. In other words, paying off the past and investing in the future.
- Your Wants: 30% should be spent on things that you want but could live without. This allows for flexible spending and, perhaps, a happier life.
The OPERS online budgeting tool can help you apply this method to your personal budget. This online tool can help you track your expenses and create a budget. You can also use this tool to adjust your budget and see the impact of those changes.
Webinar: Personal Budgeting
The second webinar in the financial wellness empowerment series takes a more in-depth look at your current net income and where you are spending your money. During this webinar, you'll learn how to apply the popular 50-20-30 budgeting rule to help you organize your expenses in the short-term and accomplish your long-term goals. You'll also be introduced to a new online tool that will help you track your expenses and develop a budget that works for you.
NEW Webinar: Health Care: The Hidden Cost in Retirement
This webinar will review the long-term cost of health care and better prepare you for retirement. Health care is no longer something you just have in retirement, it's something you need to plan for.
- The rising cost of health care coverage.
- How different health care in retirement is compared to your employer's coverage.
- How saving for health care costs in retirement may factor into when you can retire.
- How retiring later in age may be more beneficial to you financially.
- If eligible, you may receive a health care allowance from OPERS.