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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 August 15, 2018

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

Video Summary

Why is it important to train up our core strength?

There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

One Exercise, multiple benefits

There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

What will happen when you start doing planks every day

    1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

    Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

    • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
    • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
    • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
    • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

    2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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      Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

      Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

      3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

        Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

        4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

          Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

          A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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          A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

          On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

          5. You’ll improve overall balance

            Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

            6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

              Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

              7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                How to hold a plank position

                1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                  How to improve your plank time gradually

                  1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                  2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                  3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                  Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                  Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                  You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                  • Prolapse
                  • After prolapse surgery
                  • Pelvic pain conditions
                  • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                  • Previous childbirth
                  • Overweight

                  Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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