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This Is How Anyone Can Supercharge Their Retirement

This Is How Anyone Can Supercharge Their Retirement

Whether you’re so far from retirement that it seems like barely a blip on your radar, or you can see the big day circled in bright red ink on your calendar, planning for retirement at any and every stage of your life is essential. From small, incremental changes to big, monumental ones, there’s a lot of value in being an active planner when it comes to your “second act.” Here are 10 ideas for anyone to supercharge their retirement.

1. Start living simply.

This is a life-long lesson for anyone who wants to retire comfortably. No matter how close or far you are from retirement, start living a more simple life now. Scale back on all of your expenses. Each time you’re going to make a purchase, ask yourself if this is a need or a want, and if you’ll be just fine without it. Opt for less living space when possible, and aim to acquire fewer things.

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2. Ask for a raise now.

Earning a higher salary now means that your earning potential for the rest of your life has grown. Don’t put it off another day–if you think you deserve more, then ask for it. If you’re take-home pay is $50,000 right now, and your raise gets you $5,000 more each year, you’ll make $75,000 more over the course of 15 years. You might not notice a big difference paycheck to paycheck, but the amount you can put into savings is significant.

3. Cut back on your expenses.

This is part of living a simpler life. Make it a habit to reduce your energy consumption, buy fewer clothes and take better care of the ones you have, and avoid purchasing anything new. Sources like Craigslist, consignment shops, and reuse stores offer a wealth of new or slightly used merchandise at far lower prices, or even for free. Resolve to not buy anything new for one month and see how far you are able to get. You’ll be surprised at how many things you don’t really need, or how much you can get for free or very inexpensively because it’s used.

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4. Max out your employer matches.

In addition to asking for a raise, make sure you are taking the maximum allowable level for your 401(k) and other employer sponsored investment and savings programs. Whatever your employer’s match is, be sure to meet its maximum. Otherwise, you are basically foregoing free money.

5. Take advantage of AARP and AAA discounts.

Even if you’re not yet retired, people aged 50 and older can become members of AARP and take advantage of the discount programs they offer. At any age, you can join AAA, and find discounts on everything from groceries to travel to entertainment.

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6. Work part-time during retirement.

When the Social Security Act was signed in 1935, the average life expectancy in the United States was only 60 for men and 64 for women, yet the retirement age was set at 65. Now people live 15, 20, or 30 years past their retirement age. Keeping a part-time job during retirement helps you stay fresh, offers you regular income, and keeps you connected to your professional self. There are so many options for professional part-time jobs for people who have a wealth of experience now. You can even find at-home jobs that allow you to work from the comfort of your home, helping you to avoid the costs associated with commuting and professional wardrobes.

7. Downsize your home.

One of the biggest expenses people have is the upkeep of their homes. Not only is a large home expensive, but as you age it will be more difficult for you to maneuver through your house. A smaller house provides you with reduced expenses and responsibilities, and the ability to stay in your home for as long as possible throughout your retirement.

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8. Learn how to cook.

This is a great idea for people at any age. Not only does learning how to cook give you something new to enjoy during retirement, but cooking your own meals is far cheaper than dining out. The added bonus is that home-cooked meals are generally healthier for you, setting you up for a healthier retirement. Cooking at home will help you save an estimated 75 percent on food-related expenses each year.

9. Put off retirement for just two years.

If the idea of working until you are 65 is not appealing, consider what you’ll be missing out on monetarily by retiring early. At 65, you are able to claim full Social Security benefits, whereas retiring earlier means that your overall payments will be lower throughout the course of your retirement. In addition, that’s two more years of bringing in a full salary and two more years to save for your impending retirement.

Lifestyle changes take a while to become habits, so be sure to make these tips part of your daily routine right now. Whether you’ve got a year or 20 years before retirement, it’s never too late to make meaningful changes that will positively benefit the later years of your life.

Featured photo credit: TaxCredits.net via flickr.com

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Brie Weiler Reynolds

Senior Career Specialist at FlexJobs

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

The Average Retirement Savings and How to Save Wisely

Are you on track for retirement?

If not, don’t worry, I’m not sure either. I save each month and hope for the best.

Fortunately, I’m at an age where most people don’t save so I’m ahead of the curve.

But, what if you aren’t in your 20s? What if you’re near retirement and are looking to gauge where you stand?

If so, keep reading. Here’s how to prepare for retirement and save wisely during the process.

What Does the Average American Have Saved for Retirement?

Saving for retirement is tricky.

Tell someone straight out of college to save $10k a year for retirement and it’ll be next to impossible.

Make the same request to someone decades older and they’d be more likely to be able to save this amount. But, a 20-year old college student can be “financially ahead” of someone saving more than them. Why?

Age matters in your financial journey. The younger you are, the more time you have to save and put compound interest to work. As you get older and have more saving power, you’d have less time to put compound interest to work.

Here are the average savings Americans hold by age bracket:

20’s – $16,000

During this stage, most people are paying loans and moving up the corporate ladder. Your best bet during this stage is to focus on eliminating debt and increasing your income. Don’t focus only on getting a high-paying job neither.

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Instead, focus on learning via Podcasts, reading books, and taking specialized courses. Doing this will make you more valuable and give you more career options.

30’s – $45,000

At this stage, you’ve hopefully escaped your entry-level salary and work at a career you enjoy. Your earning power has increased but you now have more obligations. For example, marriage, kids, and a mortgage.

Set a plan to pay off all your debt and focus on eliminating unnecessary expenses. Leverage financial tools like Personal Capital to ensure you’re on track for retirement.

40’s – $63,000

This is the stage where you’re at the prime of your career. Top financial institutions recommend you have at least 2 to 4 times your salary saved up. If you’re falling behind, start maxing out your 401K and Roth IRA accounts.

50’s – $115,000

During your fifties, you’re close to retirement but still, have time to save. You may be helping your kids pay college tuition and other expenses. Since you’re at the peak of your earning power, max out all your retirement accounts.

60’s – $172,000

By this point, you should have about eight times your salary saved up. If not, you’ll depend primarily on social security benefits averaging $1400 per month. Max out all your retirement options as much as possible before retiring.

Ways to Save Money on a Tight Budget

The sad reality is that most Americans aren’t saving enough for retirement.

Even high-earning power isn’t enough to secure one’s financial future. You need to have the discipline to save for retirement while time is in your favor. Don’t wait for you to have a high salary to save, start with having a small budget.

First, get a clear picture of where you stand. Write down a list of “needs” and “wants.” For example, Netflix and Amazon Prime are “wants” and a “cell-phone” is a need.

Use tools like Personal Capital to analyze your spending patterns. Personal Capital allows you to add all your financial data in one place–making it a powerful option to gauge where you stand.

Once you know all your expenses, organize them from highest to lowest expense. When you can’t cut more expenses, call your service providers to negotiate a lower price. If you’re not good at negotiating, use services like Trimm to lower your monthly expenses.

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How to Save Money Each Month

By this point, you know the average amount of money you should have saved for retirement based on your age.

But, breaking this down into monthly goals can be challenging. Here are some rule of thumbs to follow:

Aim to contribute 10%–15% of your salary each paycheck. Review your progress each week.

Why so often? The reality is that life gets in our way and you will have many financial setbacks. Your goal isn’t to be perfect but to get back on track instead.

Reviewing your finances weekly lets you know where you stand with your retirement. This doesn’t have to be a long process either. All it takes is login in Personal Capital to view your net worth and check how much you have saved for retirement.

Turn saving into a game and aim to save more each month. It will get challenging but you’ll get creative and find more ways to save.

Top Money Saving Challenge Tips

To prepare for your financial future and not be another statistic you need to be different.

How?

By adopting new habits that’ll help you become a saving machine. Here are some ways you can save more:

Automatically Contribute Towards Retirement

If you’re working for a company, you can automatically contribute towards your 401k. If you’re not currently contributing more than 10%, make this your goal. Contribute 1% more today and automatically increase this amount a year from now.

Odds are that you’re not going to be negatively affected by contributing 1% more. Many times we spend our money on things we don’t need. Contributing more towards retirement is a great way to secure your financial future.

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Use the Right Tools to Know Where You Stand

Once you’re contributing more towards your retirement accounts, gauge your progress. Make use of finance tracking apps to help you view the big picture of your retirement.

When I’d first signed up for the app Personal Capital, I didn’t know I had a negative net worth. Despite saving thousands of dollars, my debt brought my net worth to the negative. Knowing this motivated me to save more and spend less.

Now, I have a positive net worth. But, it was because I was able to view the big picture using the app. Find out what your net worth is using a finance tracking app and you may surprise yourself.

Bring in Experts to View Your Blind Spots

If you have too little or too much money saved, you should consider hiring financial experts.

Why?

You may need someone to hold you accountable to help you reach your financial goals. Or, you may need help managing your money as effective as possible.

Regardless of the reason, getting help may help improve your financial situation.

Before you hire an expert, find out which areas you need help the most. For example, if you’re constantly overspending, find a debt counselor. If you’re struggling with choosing the best investment options, hire a financial advisor.

Speed up Your Retirement Contribution

After learning how to manage your money well, the next best thing is to earn a higher income.

You’re capped at how much you can save but not much you can earn. Even if your employer isn’t giving you a promotion, you can still take charge of your financial future. How?

By starting a side-business.

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This will be something you’d work on after you’ve finished your day job. Once you start earning income from your side-business, you’ll be financially better off.

The best part is the more work you put into your side-business,[1] the more potential it has to earn more money.

So start a side-business in an area you’re familiar with. For example, if you enjoy writing, do freelance writing for small e-commerce businesses.

Once you’re earning a higher income, you can contribute more towards your retirement. Don’t wait for the right opportunity to secure your financial future, create one.

Reach Financial Freedom with Confidence

What if you were able to retire tomorrow with no problem, all because you’d have enough money saved up and little to no debt left to pay off? How would you feel?

My guess is that you’d feel happy and relieved.

Most Americans are falling behind their retirement goals for many reasons. They’re not prepared, they carry bad money-habits and are thinking short-term.

For you to retire successfully, you need to work backward and adopt better habits. Contribute more towards your 401K and focus on growing your income.

If you do, you’ll save money and pay debt faster.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re behind your retirement goals. Take the first step today towards a brighter financial future. Isn’t retirement worth the hard work and sacrifice to be at peace?

Featured photo credit: Huy Phan via unsplash.com

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