Depending on where you are in your professional life, retirement can be sneaking up on you or still far off into the future. At any stage, you need to think about the best way to save for retirement. Ways to save are going to be different depending on which stage of planning you’re at, but there are basic, easy hacks you can implement in your life to help you continue living comfortably after you’re no longer a part of the workforce.
Hack One: See if Your Employers 401(k) Match
Many jobs offer a 401(k) or some other kind of retirement savings account. Take advantage of this no matter what. Sometimes, your employers will match whatever you put into your account, up to a certain percentage. Any money in a retirement account can help secure your financial and personal future. Keep in mind, the earlier you start saving, the more money you’ll have in the future.
Hack Two: Set Up Automatic Contributions
Opening a retirement account is one thing. Making sure there is a steady flow of money to your retirement account is another thing. You can automatically add money to your retirement accounts without having to think about it. Ask your HR department to help you set up automatic contributions. You’ll select a set dollar amount or a percentage that gets taken out of your paycheck and added to your account. The money you put into a 401(k) is tax-deferred, so you won’t pay taxes on the contributions until you take the money out.
Hack Three: Reduce Debt
No one wants debt. But it can be necessary if you need things like a student loan debt, a house or a car. Credit card debt is another looming concern for many Americans. Debt increases over time if not well managed, since interest accrues.
There are two options. The first is the snowball method, which works mainly with credit cards. Start paying off the smallest debt first while you make the minimum payments on the other cards. Once the smallest debt is paid off, focus on the second-smallest debt while continuing to make minimum payments on all other cards. Continue this until you pay off all of your cards.
The second option is to list all of your debts by their interest rate. Prioritize paying off the debts with the highest interest rates first, then continue paying off the next highest interest rates until you’re debt-free.
Hack Four: Reevaluate All Your Subscriptions
Subscriptions come in different forms, whether it’s a gym membership or a premium cable subscription. Make a list of every membership and subscription you have and how much they cost. Then keep track of how often you use the service. If you find that you don’t watch much HBO or never quite make it to the gym, it may be time to cancel the subscriptions. Put the extra money into your savings or your retirement account each month. Any little bit helps.
Hack Five: Have Any Unexpected Money Go to Your Savings
Did you get a raise at work? Did your company perform well in the last year and you got a bonus? Wondering what to do with your tax refund? All of these are ways you can add to your retirement accounts. If you get the raise, you can contact your company’s HR department to adjust how much of your paycheck should go into your retirement account.
Hack Six: Consider ETFs
If you’re looking for an alternative to mutual funds, consider exchange-traded funds. Forbes reports that ETFs are better than mutual funds because they’re a lower cost to purchase, they can be traded during the day instead of limited to nighttime like some mutual funds, and the commissions are less than most mutual funds.
Saving for retirement doesn’t have to keep you up at night. And, keep in mind, the earlier you started saving, the more money you’ll have when you begin your post-work life. It’s never too late to start saving, so don’t worry if your savings aren’t exactly where you’d like them to be at the moment.
PHOTO: Pixabay / CC0 Public Domain
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