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13 Practical Tips For a Better Retirement

13 Practical Tips For a Better Retirement

“How much money will I need for retirement?” If only someone could look into a crystal ball and tell us.

While everyone’s retirement needs are likely to be different, the reality is that enough will probably never be enough, and people delay saving for a better retirement for many reasons, such as:

  • They believe that they might not reach retirement.
  • They assume things will work out and that their pensions or superannuation will cover their needs.
  • They generally believe that there’s plenty of time to save for retirement later.

Saving for a better retirement

In reality there isn’t a best time to start saving for retirement. Earlier is better, but now is good. You need to either find a way to make more money, or find a way to come up with a regular amount of money and put it into a savings account or other investment each month if you really want a better retirement. And while you are busy working hard to save money … don’t forget about your health and well being too. Here are 13 practical tips for a better retirement.

1. Keep a record of your monthly spend

Understanding what you spend each month—and where that money actually goes—means that you can can decide what’s essential versus what’s not entirely necessary, and then figure out ways to save money.

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There’s no better way of understanding how much money you need to live than by keeping track of what you spend. To start with:

  • Write down all your monthly debits and standing orders going out of your bank account.
  • Keep all your receipts in an envelope or a kitchen drawer and tally them up at the end of the month.

2. Start a budget sheet

Take a sheet of paper and draw up three columns:

  • From the results in Number 1 above, write down all the expenses that you’ve recorded in the first column.
  • In a second column write down ways you could reduce or eliminate that expense (if the expense is not essential).
  • In a third column write down the potential monthly saving.

3. Downsize your house or reevaluate your house payments

If your children have left home, the family dog has died, and the pet rabbits are no more, then is it really necessary to live in a large house on a big block? Considerable savings can be made by moving to a smaller house, including electricity costs, water costs, insurance fees, rates, and the big one … your house mortgage or bond payments. Write down your current costs and speak to a financial advisor or realtor to get an idea of what you could save by downsizing. If you don’t want to downsize, then consider your house payments, and see if you can create a plan to eliminate your monthly mortgage or bond payments before you retire.

4. Cut down on entertainment expenses

Entertainment is necessary, but do you need to eat out several times a week or go to the movies when you could hire a DVD?

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  • If you eat out twice a week, could you eat out once a week or have a Chinese or Indian takeaway instead? Better still, resolve to have a date night, and learn to cook a new or healthy meal at home.
  • Likewise, cut down on incidentals such as the number of coffees you buy each week.
  • Perhaps give up the magazine subscription and borrow magazines from the library instead.
  • Rent DVDs rather than going to the cinema.

Take a few minutes and write down what you could save over a year—you might be surprised. Once you get started, you’ll find lots of inventive ways to cut down entertainment costs, and you probably won’t feel you’re missing out at all.

5. Keep fit

Exercising regularly and eating healthy meals are like an insurance policy to a better retirement. Without good health, retirement will not be nearly as enjoyable. Get into the habit of the following:

  • Take a daily walk or join a running club.
  • Take up a sport.
  • Quit buying food from the central aisles of the supermarket (the mixes and packets and foodstuffs with added calories and additives) and stick to the outside aisles where you’ll generally find all the fresh produce.

6. Turn a hobby into a part-time business.

There are two ways to work towards having a better retirement: save more or spend less!

If you can’t spend less, then why not think about ways you could potentially earn a little more and turn a hobby or skill into a part-time business? Consider the following:

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  • Are you crafty? Perhaps you could make arts and crafts, jams, or cakes to sell at weekend markets.
  •  If you’re a handyman perhaps you could help your neighbors and friends with their home maintenance jobs.
  • Do you have any useful freelance skills—such as graphic design talent, web design expertize, or copy writing flair that you could charge for at an hourly rate?
  • Perhaps find a fun part-time job—if you like gardening look for part-time work in a nursery or garden center.

7. Upgrade appliances

If you run heating or cooling units, washing machines, and dish washers and they are nearing the end of their life span, then consider upgrading them before you retire and while you still have finance options available and a salary coming in to pay them off. Take stock of all your appliances and decide which need replacing, then sell your old ones to create a little cash to put towards the new ones.

8. Sell the fancy toys

Own a boat that just sits in the garage these days? What about the canoe? Do you still need three bikes now that the children have left home? Sell your lifestyle toys that you don’t use anymore, bank the cash, and use it on funding a better retirement.

9. Redefine your car requirements

If you are married and your children have left home, perhaps you have two cars, but actually don’t need both anymore. Not only would you be cutting your carbon footprint by running just one vehicle, you’d also be making huge savings. Follow these steps:

  • Open the conversation about how and why you need two cars.
  • Find out how you could both compromise if you had only one car.
  • If it’s possible, then sell the second car and watch the savings accumulate in your bank account.

10. Take cheaper holidays

We’re bombarded by advertising about how we should be living the good life, and this may include travel, which as we get older becomes easier again once our family responsibilities become less. But do you really need to go on a fancy cruise if you are still fit and healthy? If you want to save money for a better retirement then consider the following options:

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  • How about hosteling in Europe, perhaps? It costs a fraction of the price of five-star hotels.
  • Take a biking holiday instead of lying by the pool of an expensive resort and drinking cocktails. Your mind and body will probably thank you for it as well.
  • Book holidays out of season, or at least outside of school holidays.
  • Self-cater instead of booking into expensive resorts.
  • Hiking is free. Think about a walking holiday rather than clocking up the miles in a hire car.

11. Reevaluate your insurance policies every few years

Don’t be complacent and accept rising insurance premiums merely because you’ve been with a company for X number of years. Check out other deals, phone around, and see what packages are available for bundling car, house, and contents policies, for instance. Get recommendations from friends and advisors. Doing some insurance housekeeping every few years may well save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

12. Compare bank services, banking fees, and mortgage providers

Banks make money from us, make no mistake. Just how much of your hard-earned savings they extract is up to you because banking fees and services differ from bank to bank and are apt to change. Shop around until you find an exact match for your banking needs, then shop around some more until you find the bank offering the lowest fees. Rinse and repeat for your mortgage provider—sometimes it might save you money to switch a mortgage mid-term to a company offering a better deal, but speak to a financial advisor before you do unless you fully understand the cancellation and refinancing fees.

13. Understand your investments and asset allocation

Assets consist of equities, fixed income, and cash. An investment strategy will probably aim to balance risk and reward according to your short-, mid- and long-term goals, and your tolerance for risk.

If you have investments, get clear on what they are, and how much they yield each year. Make sure your assets are well allocated and consider age-old sound advice, which suggests not to put all your eggs in one basket. Decide, if possible, to cut down on assets that cost you money (such as cars and boats) and invest more in those that accumulate capital or cash. Ask yourself if your assets are still working hard for you and if they are still beneficial. And, if necessary, speak to an accountant or financial advisor to assist you make investment decisions for your future and for a better retirement.

When you have done this, then file any share certificates, bank statements, rental income records, and anything else from which you earn money in easily accessible files, either in a cabinet or on your computer for easy future reference (don’t forget to have a hard drive backup).

Keep fit and well, good luck with your saving, and here’s to a better retirement!

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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