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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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    Published on September 17, 2018

    How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

    How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

    Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

    With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

    So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

    1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

    It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

    You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

    So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

    2. When you want something big, wait

    Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

    It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

    We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

    A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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    So, you get the itch.

    You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

    Here’s where you have to take a step back.

    Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

    Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

    It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

    The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

    3. Live smaller than you can afford

    You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

    You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

    That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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    Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

    Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

    The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

    But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

    4. Practice smart grocery shopping

    Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

    But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

    Create a grocery budget

    Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

    Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

    I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

    Make a list… and never deviate

    Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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    You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

    These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

    Eat before going grocery shopping

    It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

    If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

    After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

    Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

    However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

    This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

    5. Cancel your gym membership

    Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

    The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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    Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

    I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

    Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

    Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

    For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

    Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

    There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

    It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

    I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

    Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

    The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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