10 Steps for Retirement Savings

posted in: Personal Finance
10 Steps for Retirement Savings
Personal Finance

Whether you plan to stop working the day you turn 65 or are taking a wait-and-see approach, it’s essential to sock money away for retirement. These days, many jobs do not include a guaranteed pension or even an employer match for a retirement fund, so much of the saving is up to us.    

  1. Start early.  Do you feel like you’re too young to start thinking about retirement? You’re wrong. Simply put, the longer you save, the more you’ll have once you’re ready to retire.
  2. Set a goal. Retirement is different for everyone. Some are happy with a modest home in an affordable town and occasional travel, whereas others hope for a more lavish lifestyle with a second home, a country club membership, and frequent travel.
  3. Ask a pro. It can be instructive to sit with a financial planner to assess the feasibility of your dream retirement and, if necessary, adjust your expectations. A professional can also suggest where your money can be put to the best use by helping you diversify your savings and determine an appropriate level of risk based on your age and retirement goals. If you’d prefer to do this independently, there are online calculators, like SmartAsset, that can help give you a sense of what is feasible.
  4. Have an understanding of what you have coming. A potentially significant portion of your retirement purse will come from benefits, like social security, a pension, and/or work-sponsored retirement funds. It’s helpful to look at this retirement income to get a sense of how much you’ll need to supplement to reach your goal.
  5. Create a budget. Assuming that you’ll need more than social security and funds from work-sponsored retirement, look at your monthly expenses to identify areas where you might be able to save more. Setting money aside every month, especially if those funds are automatically withdrawn, can be a steady and reliable way to build your retirement savings.  You can set up automatic withdrawals through your bank or through apps like Acorns or Chime.
  6. Look for “free money.” Does your employer match a percentage of your retirement contribution?  If you contribute a certain amount to your retirement savings each year, is there a tax benefit?  Take advantage of these options whenever possible.
  7. Establish smart shopping practices. Get into the habit of shopping wisely! Install a browser plugin on your mobile or desktop like the Sidekick by CouponCabin. With a few clicks at checkout, it will source and test the best coupons as you shop.

–   Join the loyalty programs where you shop regularly. For example, with the free CVS ExtraCare program, you’ll have access to sale prices and ongoing personalized offers online or in the CVS Pharmacy app. Plus, you can earn 2 percent in ExtraBucks Rewards on nearly every purchase.

  Always use a credit card that offers rewards. A cashback card, like the Bread Cashback American Express, will allow you to earn 2 percent cashback on everything you buy. 

  1. Save those windfalls. When you receive a bonus from your employer, a tax refund, or if you inherit some money, it can be tempting to purchase something pricey or take a trip. Treat yourself a little, but saving financial windfalls can help supercharge your retirement savings.
  2. Ensure that your savings are always working for you. Where you store your savings matters. Retirement accounts are a smart bet, but you also want to have some funds that are more accessible in case of an emergency. These days, many banks offer high-yield savings accounts where you can earn in the range of 5+ percent, which is a big improvement on that coffee can in the kitchen or the cash tucked under the mattress! Hopefully, you won’t need to touch those savings until you retire, but it’s there if you need it. 
  3. Re-visit your plan regularly. As your financial situation changes, so should your savings plan. If you are laid off, for example, pull back on saving until you’re back on your feet. Conversely, if your finances improve, save more aggressively.

Related post:

How to Save Money – Senior Edition

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Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who has specialized in smart shopping, personal finance, and retail for more than a decade. She has appeared on TV over 1,000 times; including Today Show, GMA3, NBC Nightly News, Inside Edition, and network affiliates nationwide. She has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn, and her expert commentary has appeared in Forbes, USNews.com, Kiplinger, Yahoo Finance, and numerous others.