When you find yourself with bonus funds, whether they be from a raise or tax refund, many Americans may think of investing for the future. However, they struggle to dedicate everyday funds to save due to competing priorities. In fact, a recent Merrill Edge Report found that the majority (59 percent) of Americans set a goal last year to save for retirement, but less than one-third (31 percent) achieved that goal.
To help get you on the right path to investing, consider some of the following tips, which can help boost your savings – no matter what your current stage of life – and pursue the retirement you envision.
Automate your savings: You’ve probably heard the phrase “pay yourself first.” Make your retirement contributions automatic each month and you’ll have the opportunity to potentially grow your nest egg without having to think about it.
But remember, putting your investments on autopilot can have its own set of risks. Setting it and forgetting it can be useful, but it also can lead you to forget to actively manage your retirement. Thus, commit regularly to reviewing your contributions, increasing when you can.
Rein in spending: Successful retirement savers are as committed to wise spending as they are to deliberate saving. That includes creating and following a budget and living within your means.
An easy way to start is to examine your current budget. You might negotiate a lower rate on your car insurance or save by bringing your lunch to work instead of buying it. Also, look for allocated funds you may be able to leverage – with the cost of fuel significantly decreasing, take the extra money you’ve budgeted and contribute it to your retirement savings account.
Invest with a goal, not just a number: It’s important to think of the specific “job” you want your money to do when you get to retirement, such as covering day-to-day expenses, or allowing for travel. The more clearly you can visualize what the money you are saving and investing is meant to do, the easier it is to focus on creating a strategy to have enough money in place and stick to it.
Posting photos of your goals or writing them down can make them more intentional as well, because it gives you a concrete picture of what you are aiming for. Thinking in terms of “buckets” can be helpful too – deliberately saving different amounts of money toward each goal and allocating your investments based on how near or far away each goal is.
Overall, you must understand how much you want to stock away for retirement, and find creative ways to increase your contributions, in order to help ensure retirement is something to look forward to, as opposed to worry about.
About the Author: Ray Tenpenny is a regional sales executive with Merrill Edge, which offers team-based advice and guidance brokerage services. He can be reached at 908-709-7667.