Saving for retirement can be a slog, yet some people have a better time of it than others. Planning ahead helps a lot.
The best retirement savers are more than four times as likely to have given "a great deal" of thought about their retirement age, their lifestyle during their golden years, their future health-care costs and their financial goals than the worst savers.
Planning ahead helps a lot
Take action. Here are six habits that successful retirees made when they were young.
Take action to boost your retirement savings
Create a budget.
Seems obvious, doesn't it. Creating a habit of budgeting today is an important factor of effective retirees.
Follow these easy steps as you start building your personal budget spreadsheet:
Record your daily spending with anything that's handy, whether it's with a pen and paper or an app on your smartphone.
Plan for next month's expenses and income so you don't get taken by surprise. Make sure to check in with your significant other before making the list final.
Look for ways to spend less. Small savings can add up to a lot of money. Adding one small saving at a time to your budget can surprise you with how much extra money you've accumulated. For example, try shopping at a cheaper grocery store, buying generic brands or experimenting with cooking at home.
Find ways to boost your income.
Have a hobby or a talent? Anything from handy work to writing or teaching an instrument can be a way to earn extra money. One big bonus about this strategy is that you can make your side business full-time if you ever lose your job.
Max out your workplace retirement plans.
Get in the habit of contributing the maximum amount of your workplace retirement plan. Top savers are more likely to at least contribute enough to their retirement plans to receive their employer's matching contribution. It's free money.
Most of us can’t just start contributing the maximum immediately. However, it’s possible to build up to a maxing out your retirement contributions for the year. You can grow your contributions by increments. If your employer offers a match, do what you can to get the maximum match. This is free money that can be used to build your retirement nest egg.
Use educational materials at work.
Never ever stop educating yourself, creating a habit of learning new things everyday will help you in more areas of your life.
More employers are offering financial wellness programs that help workers with budgeting and saving skills. Workers who save the most use online financial advice tools and educational materials provided by their employers.
As defined contribution pension plans have become increasingly common over the past two decades, so have lump sum distributions from those plans. Employees who elect such a distribution take the balance of their pension account with them when they leave a job. They can then choose to maintain the funds in accounts designated for retirement, invest them in other saving vehicles, or spend them. If spent pension distributions are not replaced by other savings, however, the future elderly are unlikely to be able to maintain a desirable standard of living.
Consult a financial advisor.
For young people, who most likely have modest assets, financial planners who charge by the hour are typically the best fit.
Most young people who are just starting out don’t have a lot of money to save or invest. But some experts say financial guidance at a young age is worth the cost. Financial planners are a good resource because they can examine your complete financial picture. A planner can help by using their knowledge to come up with a game plan for you as the individual. For all investors – certainly young ones – it’s a very good idea unless you feel that you can do it on your own.
Discuss your retirement lifestyle with your spouse.
Time to have that tough money conversation with your spouse because it pays off down the road. Start small, by setting aside once a month an hour, that might be all you need to discuss your budget and retirement planning. Great for your relationship too.
Build the sustainable habits that you need now to achieve the lifestyle you want in your retirement.