As retirement draws closer, you become more conscious of the need to set money aside now. You have the extra money to spend on vacations, new vehicles, and entertainment, but as your retirement looms nearer, you want to focus your financial planning in a different direction. Increasing your retirement savings may enable you to retire sooner or help you keep living the life you want throughout your retirement years. Following a few simple steps now will help you make those changes.
You already know that a certain percentage of your income should be going to your savings account. Chances are, you’ve already assigned a percentage of your paycheck to retirement, too. There are, however, some other areas where a simple percentage check can help put your spending in perspective. Calculate what you’re spending now, then make some shifts to help increase your savings.
- Entertainment spending: how much are you really spending on movies, events out with your spouse, and other entertainment expenses? Calculate a specific percentage, then look for ways to shave one or two percentage points from it.
- Food and drinks: As you near retirement, you no longer have to worry about feeding your entire family at every meal. That means that your food spending should have decreased–but has it? Expensive meat choices, regular trips to your favorite restaurant, and that morning stop for coffee all add up fast.
- Vacation: You’ve waited for years to be able to vacation with your spouse anywhere you like. While taking vacations is great, take a hard look at what percentage of your income those trips actually represent. If you really want to increase your retirement savings, start looking for ways to save money even when you’re out to relax. Giving yourself a vacation budget won’t cut into the fun. It will ensure that you can have fun later, too!
Write a Better Budget
When was the last time you actually sat down to look at your budget with your spouse? Taking the time to look over your spending now seems silly. After all, the kids are out of the house. You have extra money left over that you’ve never had before! Writing out your budget and including the things that are really important to both of you, however, can help you and your spouse get on the same page and develop a better appreciation for how much money you really need to live on. Since that budget may continue well into your retirement years, those are great things to know! Make sure it includes things like:
- Salon expenses, including your wife getting her hair done
- Replacing clothing that has worn out, from work clothes to the clothes you wear for leisure activities
- “Fun money” for each member of your family that you can spend the way you want, without needing to check with the other party
- Hobbies and interests that add a regular expense to your budget, especially the ones that you might feel obligated to buy new equipment for (classes that you take and pay for every month, sports equipment that needs to be replaced, etc)
Writing out a budget will make it easier for you to stick to a plan–and help you keep on track even when it would be easier to pull out your card and make a purchase.
Track Your Spending
You’ve checked the percentages. You’ve written your budget. Now, there’s one last crucial step to seeing just how much you’re actually spending–and therefore how much more could make it to retirement savings. For at least a month–and six months might be more realistic–track your actual purchases to discover exactly where your money is going. This process can help you see things like:
- Where you’re wasting unnecessary money
- How often impulse purchases are interfering with your savings plan
- How often you’re really going out to eat, stopping at your favorite coffee shop, or hitting the movie theater
- How much your favorite hobby really costs your family
The longer you track your actual spending, the more realistic your account will be–and the better the odds will be that you’ll get a real picture of how much money you need for retirement as well as how much more you can invest now. Looking for more ways to improve that retirement account? Contact us today for more information.