Are You Preparing for Retirement?
It’s no secret that saving for retirement is important. However, wanting to save and knowing the best way to do so are two different things. Seasoned employees often feel that retirement efforts could be too little, too late. Younger generations especially are having a hard time saving for the future for various reasons. Rising costs in health care and housing paired with student loan payments can quickly eat away at income, leaving less to put away. No matter your situation, there’s still time to make changes and build a strong, secure financial future.
Envisioning the life you want for yourself 10, 20 or 40 years from now is a tough but necessary part of planning for retirement. Pinpointing the lifestyle you hope to have is key to knowing what steps you’ll need to take to get there.
Once you have a clear picture of what you want, set goals and map out a plan of how you’ll reach them. Your goals should be realistic and achievable. If you’re starting to save later in life, analyze your savings and investments thus far, and evaluate how you can grow them. You’ll want to revisit your plan annually for the first few years. This will help you determine if your goals need to be adjusted and keep you on track.
But don’t hesitate to make changes or set new goals. Be sure to make updates when there are life changes that impact spending and income like landing a higher paying job, rent increases or a new car payment.
The longer you wait to make saving for retirement a priority, the harder it’ll become. Put away what you can today, even if it seems like a small amount —it’s a start. If you’re just starting adulthood, you have an advantage: time. Working toward retirement in your 20s means you’re off to a better start than many of your peers. Even if you’re well into your career, there’s no better time to start than today.
It can take time to build a substantial retirement fund, but everyone has to start somewhere. It’s never too soon or too late to start financing your future.
Track Your Spending
Taking the time each month to sit down and analyze your spending is a good habit to develop. Realizing how much you spend on frivolous purchases versus your contribution to savings could be the eye-opener you need. Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you’ll see how healthy spending is setting you up for success. Whether you utilize a spreadsheet or a journal, try analyzing your spending monthly this year, then reflect on your findings.
If you’re not already enrolled in your employer’s 401(k) program, take it into consideration. If this is the part of your employee manual you skipped over, rethink your next move.
Contributing to your 401(k) is more beneficial than you think. Make sure you understand the plan so you know how to take full advantage of the benefits that come along with it. For example, many employers match a percentage of your contributions to increase participation, but only up to a certain portion of your salary. Others may match a specific dollar amount regardless of income.
Maybe your current job doesn’t offer a 401(k), or you’re just not a fan of the program. Either way, an Individual Retirement Account may be right for you. IRAs are also a responsible way to finance retirement. They even come with perks like a wider selection of investments and generally lower fees than 401(k) plans, but both options have their benefits. Do some investigating to decide which is best for you.
Start an Emergency Fund
Building an emergency fund is crucial when practicing financial stability. Sometimes events beyond your control can take an unexpected toll on your wallet. Having extra money to fall back on when you need it most will be the difference between having the money on hand or digging into your savings. Designate a specific amount for rainy days and flat tires to rely less on your credit card and growing retirement fund.
When you’re balancing all of the price tags that come with adulthood –car payments, a mortgage, insurance– retirement is often an afterthought. Still, the best thing you can do is plan ahead, because before you know it, days that once seemed so far will be right around the corner. Whether you’re a recent college graduate planning for early retirement or someone who’s been in the workforce for quite some time, invest in what could be the best time of your life. Your future self will thank you.