Six ways to boost retirement confidence
There’s a tendency to think of retirement as some distant event that isn’t necessarily influenced by everyday life. Our current culture is all about the here and now—we want instant gratification in just about all aspects of our lives. But the truth is, decisions you make now could very well determine how confident you feel about your future retirement years down the road.
So how do we prepare for something that’s so far away when our current mindset is all about the present? For starters, remember that you reap what you sow. Think wisely about your financial decisions now and feel more retirement ready in the distant future. Then, consider the following to help you improve your financial literacy efforts.
Tips for boosting retirement confidence
1. Live within your means
It’s tempting to buy the latest gadget or overextend your credit in an effort to “keep up with the Joneses,” but is it really worth it? Probably not. When you think critically about how every impulsive financial decision you make can erode the quality, timing, and certainty of your retirement, the answer to that quasi-rhetorical question of “Do I really need that?” becomes clear.
2. Plan a budget
Every paycheck provides you with a finite amount of money. Pay attention to how you allocate income for bills, traditional savings, retirement savings, and discretionary spending. Are there some opportunities to add to the amount you earmark for retirement? Preparing a budget may also help you determine what portion of your income you’ll need to replace to live comfortably in retirement.
3. Establish small goals
Set yourself up for success. Establish small goals to shoot for—like saving $X per paycheck or per month. Once you consistently meet that goal, set a new, harder-to-reach one. Progressing with baby steps has a twofold benefit: it helps you develop healthy savings habits and provides assurance that you can manage your money effectively.
4. Take advantage of tax breaks
Your retirement contributions are generally tax-deductible. Maximizing contributions to your 401(k) or other retirement account instead of putting money in, say, your traditional savings translates to tax savings that could mean a little more take-home pay without shortchanging your retirement. Or if you meet certain age thresholds and other requirements, perhaps reinvestment into your 401(k) to “catch up” on savings would be a beneficial strategy.
5. Identify the end game
What does retirement look like to you? Is it a specific age, like 65, or is it the realization of a dream, like traveling around the world or regularly hitting the links? Get clear on your retirement vision now so you can map a strategy to comfortably reach that goal in the future. Let’s face it: you need to know where you’re going before you can figure out how to get there.
6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
For as personal as finances are, there’s a certain universal apprehension about seeking professional guidance. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a need for it. A recent study by the NFCC showed that 80 percent of adults agree that they could benefit from advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional . Relying on the experience and insights of professional financial planners, advisors, or bankers can help guide you toward investment decisions that will keep your money working for you. Making well-informed, educated decisions with your money is empowering and puts your further along on your journey to retirement readiness.
Taking proactive steps here and now to advance your own financial literacy is the first step towards financial freedom and retirement readiness in the future. Focus on your goals, and remember that preparing for retirement is a marathon—not a sprint. Every financial decision you make leading up to retirement has the ability to affect the funds you’ll have available in your golden years, so think about the money you spend buying that fancy new car or cabin up north as a loan from your future self—money that could’ve been used to help fund the retirement you’ve been dreaming of.
Nicholas Crary, CPFA - Financial Services Representative - email@example.com - 800.236.7400 Ext. 3381
Nick is a subject matter expert on 401(k), retirement savings, participant advice, small business 401(k), investments, education on options.