If you’re feeling stressed about retirement, don’t worry. You are not alone. Americans are more concerned about money than anything else. It ranks higher than health, family, and work, according to BlackRock’s Global Investor Pulse survey. The study also found that those who are saving for retirement feel better overall than those without a retirement savings plan. And while you have heard a lot about starting to save for retirement early, it’s also never too late to start. As you get closer to retirement age, your strategy may change, but the most important part of your plan must be consistency. The best thing you can do for yourself is to consistently contribute to your retirement account, every month, regardless of other expenses, vacations, or holidays. These three steps should help get you on track as you consider the most important commitment of your life: your future.
1. Get creative. Look at your expenses and see what can be cut from your budget. It’s always possible to find a few extra dollars that can be allocated for retirement savings. This may mean one less Starbucks Macchiato every week, or cutting out other discretionary expenses like Ubers, streaming subscriptions or limiting your takeout to once a month instead of multiple times a week. Depending on your age, this strategy may need to be taken up a notch. You might also consider picking up a side hustle to earn a little bit more cash. Any disposable income should immediately be deposited into your retirement account.
2. Set small, achievable goals. Keep in mind that you can adjust your contributions at any time, and there is never a minimum contribution. Try starting with just 1% of your salary, and increase it over time as your wealth grows. Consider contributing a percentage of your salary increases and bonuses as well!
3. Envision your retirement. While your retirement may seem extremely far away, it’s important to visualize what your future looks like. Think about your goals and what the ideal retirement looks like for you. Do you want to be working in a second career? What does your legacy look like? Where do you want to live? Consider this: retirement is the longest vacation of your life, and as Americans, we often spend more time planning our annual vacations than we do our retirement. Creating a vision board for your retirement, even if it’s just by jotting down some notes or visualizing your future, might help crystallize it a little more.
Being nervous or unsure about retirement should be a driving force for getting started, not for holding you back. Once you take the first steps in planning your future, you’ll immediately feel a weight lifted from your shoulders. What are you waiting for? Get started today -- your future self will thank you later.
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