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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 January 2, 2019

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

    Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

    Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

    Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

    This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

    Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

    What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

    Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

    When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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    How It Leads to Financial Improvement

    It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

    Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

    Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

    It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

    Types of Personal Finance Software

    When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

    Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

    For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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    Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

    When to Use Personal Finance Software

    So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

    Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

    1. You Have Multiple Accounts

    There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

    If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

    Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

    2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

    Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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    There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

    With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

    3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

    Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

    Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

    Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

    4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

    Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

    You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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    How to Get Started

    From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

    Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

    It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

    When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

    Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

    Final Thoughts

    Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

    In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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