Why it’s not too late to start planning for your retirement
In a perfect world, we all begin saving for retirement in our mid-20s—and the closer we get to retirement, the more confident we feel about having enough saved to live comfortably. However, we do not live in a perfect world. In reality, life throws at us many twists and turns that leave many behind in their retirement savings. If you find yourself behind when it comes to retirement savings, the financial strategies below are suggestions to help you catch up. Keep in mind that each situation is different and ultimately it’s a good idea to work with a financial professional who can help you develop a holistic strategy that addresses all of your goals and needs.
Look for areas of opportunity in your budget
Even if your budget is already tight, it is important to reevaluate your budget at least once per year. What you are searching for are areas of opportunity, such as:
- Bundling phone, cable, and internet.
- Calling utilities, credit cards, and other service providers to inquire about more cost-effective solutions.
- Trimming away some of your expenses—such as daily café coffee and eating out.
- Paying off debt and reinvesting the money you free up towards retirement savings.
Doing this once a year is likely to save you an extra $20 here and there, which can be added to your retirement savings plan.
Consider creative ways to save
In order to achieve success when creating your financial strategies for retirement, you must find more money to save. When invested properly—just a few hundred more each year can impact your retirement savings in a positive way. Now that you have revised your budget, look for a few creative ways to save more money on monthly and annual expenses. Below are just a few ideas to keep in mind:
- Use more print and online coupons—there are many apps that will help you to maximize savings.
- Cook and bake from scratch.
- Shop for gifts during after-holiday sales when prices can be up to 50% off.
- Rent out your spare room.
- Plant a vegetable garden.
Make sure your 401(k) retirement contributions maximize employer matching
As an added perk, many employers will match your 401(k) contributions up to a certain percentage. Consider the amount they match as “free” money towards your retirement savings strategy and, if possible, ensure you are contributing at least as much as your employer matches. Also consider increasing your contributions every year, by even 1 or 2 percent. Adjusting your contributions by a small percentage may not feel like a big difference, but over time it can have an impact on your overall savings.
Get a part-time job
Thanks to the Internet and electronic communication, it is now easier than ever to land a part-time job. Consider offering your skills as a freelancer who works from home, with a flexible schedule that can easily work around your full-time job. Also consider a part-time job with a set schedule, and how even one or two extra shifts each month can help you collect supplemental income for retirement. Keep in mind that income levels could impact certain government benefits.
Consider when you want to retire
Since most Americans do not have unlimited resources, retiring on a budget is a reality for many. With proper planning, this budget does not have to be overwhelmingly restrictive. Consider how long you want to work full-time before you retire, and if working part-time after retirement is an option. Also, in general, the longer you can delay starting Social Security benefits, the larger the monthly benefit will be.*
Meet with a financial professional
A common misconception is that meeting with a financial representative is only essential for those who have a significant amount of room in their budget. However, even if you will be retiring on a budget, or currently have little breathing room in your budget—meeting with a financial representative is essential. Your financial professional can alert you to additional areas of opportunity within your budget, as well as a multitude of investment opportunities you should be aware of—above and beyond investing in your 401(k).
There are many new expenses that arise in retirement, such as an increased likelihood of medical expenses. Turning to the financial strategies for retirement described above will help you to plan a comfortable retirement—even if you are retiring on a budget.