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10 Ways to Financially Prepare for Retirement

10 Ways to Financially Prepare for Retirement

While a number of developed economies throughout the world continue to showcase overt signs of growth, it appears as though everyday citizens are yet to feel the true benefit of this. This is especially true for those approaching retirement age, who, according to a 2013 HSBC report, are facing the prospect of exhausting all state and private pension funds within a relatively short period of time.

The survey, which canvassed the opinion of more than 15,000 respondents across a total of 15 global markets, suggested that the average citizen will have spent his state and occupational pension capital just 14 years into retirement. With the average international retirement length now 18 years, the failure to save can have significant implications for an entire generation of citizens.

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Practical Ways to Avoid Running Out Of Money in Retirement

    This problem can be overcome, although it requires individuals to adopt a proactive approach and consider alternative methods of generating and saving income. By thinking broadly and outside basic pension plans and savings accounts, it is possible to prepare for a bright and financially sound future beyond retirement.

    1. Live a frugal and enjoyable lifestyle

    For anyone who contributes to an occupational pension and is expecting to supplement this income with state funds beyond their retirement, there is a tendency to take a more relaxed approach towards making additional savings. This represents flawed thinking, however, as your ability to live a frugal and financially prudent lifestyle can boost your pension income and correct any potential shortfalls. Although this should not impact negatively on your enjoyment of life, it is important to cut costs where possible and maximise savings, discounts and promotional offers.

    2. Recognise yourself as a viable financial asset

    Beyond savings accounts, pension funds and fixed-rate bonds, you should also consider yourself as a viable financial asset. Equipped with knowledge, experience and a carefully honed skill-set, you have an innate capacity to earn that is likely to be the single most influential factor on the quality of your life beyond retirement. By recognising this quickly and maximising your earnings through activities such as freelancing and consultancy, you can lay the foundations for a financially prosperous retirement.

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    3. Learn to plan rather than save

    Goal setting is key to challenging established thinking patterns and cultivating more positive behaviour, especially when it comes to building and retaining wealth. It is important to set the right goals, however, as saving money is only possible if you can minimise spending, optimise your earning potential, and remain free from debt. This requires considerable forward planning, which enables you to consider your long term financial goals and minimise any risks that may prevent you from achieving them.

    4. Consider the dual benefits of healthy living

    We live in an age of information, where citizens have never been more knowledgeable about health issues and the impact of a poor dietary regime. Cultivating a healthier lifestyle not only enables you to improve physical fitness and live longer, but also provides you with an opportunity to save money by eliminating costly practices such as smoking, drinking alcohol and consuming fast food. Over time, these savings can quickly accumulate and boost your personal wealth considerably.

    5. Take advantage of financial freebies and tax breaks

    Taxation is not only a controversial issue in developed economies throughout the world, but also has a huge impact on your earning potential and capacity for long-term savings. As a financially astute individual, it is important to understand pension plans and tax laws, and use them to your advantage. In terms of private occupational pensions, for example, it is important to ensure that you match the contribution of your employers and access the free capital that is offered. Certain savings and retirement accounts also offer considerable tax breaks, alongside additional investment options that are free from capital gains scrutiny.

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    6. Develop financial literacy as a core skill

    This brings us to the need for financial literacy, which is now being considered as a core feature of the educational curriculum for students throughout developed economies. Without being financially literate, it is impossible to understand staple economic factors such as interest rates and their impact on investment income and earnings. More specifically, it is important to understand how fluctuating interest rates impact alternative investment options, so you can calculate which offer the best financial return at any given time.

    7. Follow economic trends and the course of inflation

    On a similar note, inflation and the cost of living are key economic factors that also impact disposable income levels. Not only is it important to understand these concepts, but there is also a need to follow the real-time economic trends that surround them. For example, it was recently announced that disposable income levels in the UK would not rise until at least 2015. This means that financially-aware consumers can look to regulate their spending and avoid heavy borrowing as inflation continues to rise disproportionately.

    8. Think like an entrepreneur and take calculated risks

    The nature of the global economy has changed considerably since the Great Recession, not least in terms of labour market evolution and the prevailing method of working in developed nations. As a result, we are now in the age of the ‘accidental entrepreneur’, who can be characterised as having a marketable skill and an appetite for taking calculated risks. This kind of mind-set is key when it comes to investing your hard-earned money, as you cannot hope to generate sizeable returns without placing your capital on the line in the first place. In the quest to supplement your retirement income, a slightly risk-averse approach can often deliver the best possible results.

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    9. Never borrow money to fund your lifestyle

    Economic recovery is often driven by consumer borrowing, especially in the modern age where there are a host of new and innovative short-term lending options available. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with this, it can become an issue when you borrow money as a way of bridging a short-term shortfall in income or sustaining an existing lifestyle. This leads to the cultivation of cyclical and long-term debt, which can slowly eradicate your savings over time. With this in mind, you should only ever borrow money with a clear goal in mind (such as an investment) and if you have calculated the potential risks and returns.

    10. Be proactive and continually look for new opportunities to save

    Above all else, your capacity to save money and boost your private pension income relies heavily on your outlook and financial philosophy. Even if you are in full-time employment and saving a considerable amount of money each month, it is crucial that you continually look for new opportunities and vehicles through which you can maximise your income. This type of proactive approach will reap significant rewards over time, especially for younger citizens who are still developing their career path.

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    Last Updated on March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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