There are many different financial tasks that consumers juggle on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. One that often gets pushed to the back burner is retirement savings. It’s very common to focus on immediate issues in lieu of put money in savings. If at all possible, consumers need to make saving for retirement a higher priority. That’s one of the most valuable pieces of credit counseling advice we can give.
How to Work Retirement Savings into Your Money Management Strategy
No matter what your current age or career track, building retirement savings into your finance routine will pay off. The earlier you start the better, because compounding interest will help your savings grow faster than on its own. However, even if you’re late to the game, it’s still worth it to boost savings efforts.
Before you start saving…
It’s important to eliminate credit card debt because having outstanding debts with high interest will limit your ability to save effectively. Essentially, paying excessive amounts of interest over time will keep you from being able to allocate money toward retirement. Plus, the interest that is accruing on your debt is canceling out the interest that could be building your retirement savings.
This principle doesn’t apply as strictly to student education loans. Student debt usually has lower interest rates and more reasonable repayment terms than credit card debt, so it doesn’t restrict saving efforts as severely. It’s still important to pay these debts responsibly, but finance experts suggest not to neglect retirement savings just to pay student loans faster.
Now set yourself up for success.
The best way to start or improve a retirement saving strategy is to establish a household budget that steers you toward efficient spending. Note how much you earn each month and how much you spend on bills and other expenses. Using a financial planning worksheet or a budgeting spreadsheet is a great way to track cash flow. With every dollar accounted for, you’ll be able to figure out where to cut costs and how much can be put aside for retirement and other savings or debt repayment needs.
Most importantly, optimizing your budget enables you to identify areas where you can and should cut spending. This means you must make tough choices and sacrifice some creature comforts in the short term. The long-term benefits in regards to quality of life in your retirement years are well worth it.
Finally, help the money grow on its own.
Once you have a budget in place to ensure you’ve got the flexibility to contribute to retirement, put the money where it will flourish. If your employer offers a 401k program, use that to put money aside before taxes. Additionally, try to max out any retirement fund matching offered through work as well. You may not be able to afford to put 10% or more of your paycheck aside, but any amount that gets matched is like free money.
If you don’t have access to a retirement account through work, look into IRA’s and Roth IRA’s. These retirement options come with different benefits and can go a long way to growing savings over time.
Remember, any effort to boost your retirement funds is like paying your future self. Consistent saving will grow faster than you think, and when the time comes to hang it up, you’ll be able to live comfortably thanks to your hard work and sacrifice.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.