Just recently I checked into a hotel late in the evening. As I was getting my luggage out of the car I was surprised by the appearance of the bellhop. No, this wasn’t a young twenty-something, but rather a frail gray-haired gentlemen.
As he struggled with the weight of the luggage cart I couldn’t help but lend him a hand. All the while I was thinking to myself, why is this man pushing a luggage cart instead of enjoying his retirement?
He reminded me of the white haired lady working at the gas station whose hands were so arthritic that she had trouble taking my money and the elderly Walmart employees I frequently saw working alongside teenagers a third of their age.
Retirement is the ten-ton elephant in the room that nobody likes to talk about. We all know it’s coming, but most of us simply ignore it. Yes, we understand that we should save for it, but life gets in the way.
According to a CNN-Money report, 60% of workers have less than $25,000 saved and only 14% of workers feel “very confident” that they’ll have enough to live a comfortable retirement.
Experts generally agree that putting away between 10% to 15% of your income is one of the best strategies for ensuring secure Golden Years. But with many of us living paycheck to paycheck, where do we find the money?
Consider these strategies for building a golden nest egg:
Cut the fat
Let’s face it, we frequently pay more than we need to for a wide variety of goods and services. By “trimming the fat,” we can use the savings to fund our retirement.
When is the last time you called around to secure the lowest car and home insurance rates? Could you use websites like BillShrink.com to find ways to lower your cell phone or cable bill? Perhaps you could challenge your property tax assessment or consider refinancing your mortgage to take advantage of unprecedented low interest rates.
The more you look, the more you’ll find that your personal finances are littered with fat. Find ways to cut it and you could set yourself up for a sweet retirement.
Make simple lifestyle changes
Small simple lifestyle changes implemented over years or decades could seriously increase your retirement nest egg. Consider, for instance, taking your lunch to work instead of visiting the cafeteria or food trucks. You could easily save $800 a year. A 25-year-old investing the savings in a retirement account earning 8% interest would earn over $210,000 for retirement with just this one small lifestyle change alone.
Sacrifice a sacred cow or two
Sacred cows are those expenses that never get questioned. Come hell or high water, we’ll find a way to pay for them. Perhaps it’s because society tells us these items are the 21st Century “essentials” that everyone needs.
Smartphones, weekly hair appointments, cable television, his and hers cars, and dining out on a consistent basis are just a few of the more common sacred cows.
But are all our sacred cows really necessary? Could we sacrifice our iPhone and its expensive data plan for the sake of building a retirement nest egg? Is cable television today worth struggling in retirement thirty years from now?
Take a close look at your sacred cows and see if any of them can be slaughtered to secure your Golden Years.
Find a side hustle
Facebook, Twitter, Ebay, and Craigslist have given us numerous ways to start and expand our side hustles. Could you find a side business that would bring in ten to fifteen percent of your regular income? If so then you’ve found a great way to build your retirement fund.
Tutoring, freelance writing, furniture restoration, event planning, niche blogging, wedding photography, catering, and selling items on Ebay are just a few of the endless possibilities for bringing in the extra cash.
Put your savings on autopilot
It’s hard to spend money you never see. That’s the theory behind having automatic paycheck deductions directed to a savings or retirement account. You quickly become acclimated to a slightly smaller paycheck as you watch your savings grow. Don’t forget to participate in your company’s 401K plan, especially if your employer provides matching funds. That’s free money for the taking.
Retirement is something that’s so easy to overlook. But unless you want to be working at Walmart when you should be on the golf course, it’s something you should consider now. A little planning today will save you a world of hurt tomorrow.
BMWK, have you taken steps to save for retirement? How have you found the money to save? What advice would you give to others to help them secure their retirement?