4 retirement tips for the underbanked

Retirement planning is an important part of one's personal and professional life. But what if you're among the 20 million residents of the U.S. who are considered underbanked? It shouldn't make any inherent difference, right?

"Underbanked Americans shouldn't neglect the necessity of financial planning for their retirement."

Well, yes and no. Anyone who regularly saves money in some form or fashion, even if only through a personal checking or savings account, can set aside funds for retirement. (Technically, you could do this even if you were unbanked with no account whatsoever, but it'd require much more legwork.)

In any event, underbanked Americans must adopt certain best practices to ensure they have capital at the ready for their golden years. Let's look at a few of them today:

1. Take advantage of mobile financial apps
If you're like the vast majority of Americans - approximately 85 to 90 percent of the population - you own a smartphone. You should use the device to its fullest potential for banking needs, as 40 percent of underbanked consumers do, according to the Federal Reserve.

Investopedia cited several apps as wise choices for retirement planning. Mint and Vanguard Nest Egg Calculator stand out among these due to their capability for tracking long-term financial and investing trends, and Financial Engines helps monitor Social Security benefits. Finally, using Microbilt's credit decisioning tool to create an alternative credit report assesses financial status without traditional credit metrics.

2. Seek organizational assistance
The American Association of Retired Persons, National Council on Aging and other groups advocating for retirees and near-retirees offer financial planning assistance through courses, individual fiscal counseling and other initiatives. Underbanked professionals would do well to seek these avenues out. 

3. Retirement accounts
No matter how you get paid or manage money, a 401(k) account guarantees deductions from your paycheck to put toward retirement. Also, financial institutions allow you to open an IRA whether you have an account with them or not, according to CNN Money. 

4. Credit unions
A survey conducted by the AARP's Public Policy Institute with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found that underbanked and unbanked individuals 45 and older trust credit unions and small banks more than other financial institutions. See if your local credit union likely offers retirement assistance.

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