Retirement Planning is about more than money and investing. A well-conceived retirement savings strategy encourages you to consider all aspects of your life in retirement, such as where you want to live, how you want to spend your time, the places you would like to visit, and the people with whom you would like to spend more time. There’s a saying that “life is what happens to you when you’re busy doing something else.” It’s easy to see how this can happen, especially when it comes to planning for retirement. There’s so much to do and get done today that many people put off planning until tomorrow, “when they’ll have more time.” But guess what? You’ll be busy tomorrow, too. So make a commitment to start planning for retirement today, because the more time you have to plan and prepare, the better your choices will be. Perhaps the most effective way to reach your retirement goals is to save as much as you can, as soon as you can. One of the most common reasons people give for not being able to save enough (or any) funds for retirement, is that, after paying their bills each week or month, they don’t have any money left over to save for the future.
Retiring? Need to know how much to retire?
There are basically two ways to answer this question. The first and easiest answer is to put a certain percentage away of your income each week or month. Most experts agree you should be working towards putting a minimum of 10 to 15 percent of your gross earnings into your retirement savings plans.
The second approach is to begin by calculating how much you’ll need (or want) once you retire. Then you can work backwards to determine how much you will need to save each month (based on certain total return assumptions) to reach that goal.
Most Americans spend more time planning their vacation than their retirement, and this is the most probable reason behind the growing number of bankruptcies among seniors. Fewer than half of the American population has determined how much they need for their retirement. Effective retirement planning requires the following:
- Rein in your credit usage: While using credit may not seem to be a way of saving for retirement, it may restrain your chances to save enough money for your post-retired life. Improper use of credit cards usually limits a person’s ability to save, and this results in a higher cost of living than what is expected for a person with good-enough credit rating.
- Stop spending your dollars and stick to the plan: Saving is a rewarding habit, and if you’re already saving money, whether for retirement or for any other goal, keep going! If you aren’t, this is the time to get started. Start with a small amount and try increasing the amount as you get closer to your retirement age. The sooner you start saving money, the more time your money will have to appreciate in value.
- Determine your retirement needs: Retirement is expensive. Experts are of the opinion that an individual needs at least 70% of his pre-retirement income after retirement, and the low income earners need 90% of their income to maintain their standard of living after they stop working. Take charge of your financial future so that you may secure your retirement years with effective planning.
- Plan to relocate after retirement: Though your present home may seem to be emotionally and sentimentally dearer to you, you should consider whether or not it is the right place for you post-retirement. Almost 50% of the baby boomers plan to relocate after they retire in order to cut costs. Apart from a lower mortgage amount, relocating can also offer you some financial benefits. Move to an area with lower energy costs, a lower cost of living and with a better tax environment.
- Lead a life within your means: Now that you’ll be living on a fixed income, you have to maintain a life that is within your means. Stop succumbing to the temptation of getting the thing that you set your eyes on. Try and fulfill all your wishes while you’re already earning so that you can lead a debt free retired life. Borrowing money to repay debt is not a strategy to adopt when you’re not working as this is nothing but a “fighting-fire-with-fire” approach towards debt reduction.
- Don’t withdraw money from your savings account: If you’re into the habit of using your retirement fund as a piggy bank, you’re probably making a huge blunder that can cost you dearly in the long run. Save money in your retirement fund and use it only when you reach the retirement age to reap the benefits of the tax-breaks.When you retire years from now, it’s not going to be like your parent’s retirement in which you’re rewarded with a gold watch and a guaranteed pension. Times have changed and retiring in the present financial times is more of a mystery.
Nevertheless, adopting some smart financial moves towards retirement planning can at least take out the mystery from this entire phenomenon. Trick yourself into doing what you should do and avoid leading a debt-stressed life post-retirement.
This easy to use, common sense approach to saving for the future focuses on having you treat your weekly or monthly savings goals as a “bill” that you must pay, preferably first, (into savings or a retirement plan) along with your other bills. The best way to do this is to set up automatic salary deferrals or transfers from your checking account into an IRA or other savings or investment program you establish, allowing you to systematically save for the future.