Saving for your future can be overwhelming. There are so many different approaches to saving for your post-career life, how do you know where to start? If you’re reading this post, don’t fear — you’re already taking steps in the right direction. The first step in any retirement plan is mustering the motivation to get started.
The sooner you start saving the better, so let’s stop the chatter and get on with these valuable tips to help make your path easier. There are things you can do, big and small, to start saving money towards your retirement.
- Identify your goals. When do you want to retire? Do you want to travel a lot in your retirement? Are you willing to work part time for extra funds? If you want to be comfortable in your post-work lifestyle, take all these things into account when you’re planning. Be as specific as possible, too. Without clear goals, it’s easy to get distracted or off track.
- Build a monthly budget. Your spending habits today dictate what you’ll be able to spend in retirement. Take the time to set a budget now and make sure you make room for savings specific to retirement.
- Automate your savings. You can’t spend money you never had. If you set up an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account on your payday, you’ll skip the temptation to spend it instead.
- Update your savings by decade. Many people fresh out of uni don’t set aside retirement savings because it seems so far off, but later down the road, they will be wishing they did. Don’t avoid saving, just adjust by your age instead. For example, in your 20s start setting aside 10% of your gross income. In your 30s, bump it to 12 – 15% and so on.
- Save a little at a time. Does your bank have automatic round-up savings? If so, opt in to it. That loose change adds up quickly. Even if you only save £20 per month (less than a quid per day), it will add up to over £200 a year. If your bank doesn’t have that option, try an app like Qapital that utilises the same round-up saving method.
- Consider downsizing. Depending on where you are in life, you may not need as much room as you once did. Maybe your children moved out or you stopped working from home — no matter the reason, the space you committed to may no longer fit you. If you could save more by downsizing, consider moving and saving more money toward retirement instead.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify your portfolio of assets and savings so, if one goes sour, you have something to fall back on. For example, if you put all your money into stocks but the market crashes, what can you do? Talk to a financial advisor and see what low-risk options are right for you.
- Have a will in place. Mulling over your own mortality isn’t exactly pleasant, but it’s necessary. Your retirement savings can be used towards funeral costs to ease the financial burden on those closest to you.
- Make a plan for long-term care. There may come a time when you are no longer capable of taking care of yourself. That may mean living with a family member, an assisted living facility or at home with the aid of a medical professional. If you have a complex medical history, this is especially important. Take this into consideration when setting savings goals.
- Don’t ignore inflation. In 1982, the average pint cost 73p. In 2012, the same pint would cost you £18!1 When you project how much you will need in the future, don’t forget to take inflation into account.
- Schedule regular assessments of your debt. Don’t just look at your credit card debt — consider your mortgage, car payment and other debts you may have accrued. For example, you may be close to paying down your car — how will you allocate that money when you no longer have a payment? Or maybe you have the opportunity to refinance your mortgage at a lower rate. You want to always be aware of your options and areas for optimisation when saving.
- Conduct an annual check in. There are many aspects of our saving strategy that encourage you to check in throughout the year. However, it’s important to sit down and look at every part of your savings and reflect on the progress you’ve made over the past year. What did you do well? What could you have done better? Use this feedback to better shape your savings strategy for the next year.
- Dabble in low-risk stocks. It’s not a bad idea to invest in some stocks to diversify your portfolio and passively generate extra money for retirement. Think of it like any other long-term retirement investment where you put the money in and leave it. If you choose your stock wisely and are patient, you’ll see a modest return. Don’t worry too much when prices fluctuate over time. Consult a funding advisor if there are consistent drops.
- Maximise your company pension. If you work full time, there is a high chance your company offers to match your contribution to your pension in some way. Typically, it’s up to a certain percentage — match up to that. It’s essentially free money for your retirement from your employer! Not sure what your company matches? Reach out to your human resources department to learn more.
- Open a tax-free ISA. When savings aren’t your first priority (because you’re focusing on paying down debt first) and you need more flexibility in terms of liquid assets, an individual savings account, commonly called an ISA, is a great option.
1Oxlade, A. (25 February 2013). How prices changed over 30 years. Retrieved 2 November 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/household-bills/9892984/How-prices-changed-over-30-years.html
The information in this article is provided for education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. The information in this article is not intended to be and does no constitute financial or any other advice. The information in this article is general in nature and is not specific to you the user or anyone else.