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How To Catch Up On Your Retirement Savings

How To Catch Up On Your Retirement Savings

We are all looking forward to a time when we can relax and enjoy ourselves without worrying about such trivial things as getting up early or finishing a report. Going through different schools and then several jobs throughout our life teaches us to treasure the precious moments we have to ourselves, but sometimes we can focus so much on this cycle of “work hard – play hard” that we lose sight of the bigger picture.

Many of us tend to spend money on vacations, drinking with friends, gadgets and food in an effort to make the most of our free time, and it isn’t until we hit 40 or 50 that we begin to think about our retirement savings, or lack thereof. Even if you have been leading a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle and not really thinking about the future, you can still catch up on your retirement savings with these few simple strategies.

Generate some additional income

It’s easy to get used to a lifestyle of unrestricted spending, but the problem with such a lifestyle is that you’ll have very little money left over each month, money that could have been tucked away in your bank account. A quick fix is to find a way to earn some additional income. Part-time jobs can give that extra bit of cash you need, but you can also use your skills. You may be able to:

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  • Offer tutoring – you can give lessons to others on anything from music and dancing, to cooking, math or a foreign language. Whatever knowledge and previous experience you have can be put to good use.

Violine lessons
    • Do some freelance work – people need a lot of different services, ranging from ghostwriting and translating to designing and programming, or even bookkeeping, accounting and legal advice. You can do this online, from the comfort of your own home. Good places to look for such work are websites like Upwork and Freelancer.
    • Create and sell a variety of items – toys, clothing, jewelry, furniture, paintings and sculptures are just some of the things that you can sell to people if you have some talent and patience. You can end up earning quite a bit this way if you are good.
    • Sell some of the stuff that is collecting dust in the attic – there are always a few old items that we barely use up in the attic, down in the cellar, or just littered around the house. Some of these might fetch a good price.

    Earning extra money will require you to devote a bit more of your time to work, but you can always try to make some money from the hobbies you enjoy doing anyway.

    Cut down on living expenses

    If you catch yourself worrying about life in retirement, it means it’s time to try and cut down on some unnecessary expenses as soon as possible. Effective budgeting doesn’t mean going into the woods and living of the land to save every possible penny – it’s just about making smart decisions, prioritizing and learning to do without certain luxuries.

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    Pink piggy bank surrounded by stacks of gold coins.

      Looking for things that are on sale, buying in bulk, switching to a more cost-effective brand and using your DIY skills are all great money-saving tactics that don’t require you to significantly lower your quality of life. Being careful about how you spend your money means you will have more funds to put aside, which brings us to our next point.

      Catch-up contributions

      In the US, for people who have hit 50, the best strategy is to put as much money into your 401k as you can. Some company retirement savings plans allow you to put additional funds into your 401k by way of reducing your salary by said amount. You get a bit less money per month, but it goes into your retirement fund and you get a tax deduction. These catch-up contributions can go all the way up to $5,500, which can make a big difference in the long run. Other countries such as Canada and Australia have similar schemes, so check out what is available in your locality.

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      Consider an IRA rollover

      An IRA gives you a greater freedom and because the penalties for early withdrawal are far less than with your typical 401k plan, you have the option of making good use of your money a bit earlier, e.g. in case of emergency or tempting investment opportunity. Experts agree that rolling over your 401k into an IRA is a good option for those who haven’t put much thought into their retirement fund for years and want to catch up quickly. You also have the catch-up contribution option with a maximum of $1,000 on both traditional and Roth IRAs.

      Move to a smaller home

      Sold Home For Sale Sign & New House

        If you are in your late forties or early fifties, chances are you’ve sent your kids off to college, and if you live alone there is not a whole lot of need for huge amount of space. Moving into a smaller home in a quiet neighborhood – or perhaps an apartment in the city – and selling your old house can be a good way of infusing your bank account with a large sum of money, as well as drastically cutting costs on maintenance.

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        There is no need to panic if your retirement fund doesn’t look that good and you’re already pushing 50 – with a bit of strategic planning you can implement money-saving measures, get some additional income on the side and do a number of different things to ensure that you can spend your retirement relatively carefree.

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        Ivan Dimitrijevic

        Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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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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