By Lisa McDougald
Are you looking to start saving for retirement and don’t know where to begin? The best thing to do is start with small steps. Starting the habit of savings is half the battle. The key is to begin saving in small amounts as your income allows. The traditional thinking is to save at least 10-12% of your income in a savings vehicle of your choice. If you’re in your 20s, you have a lot of time before retiring and can save smaller amounts. If you start saving in your 30s and 40s, you’ll need to save significantly more per month to reach your retirement goals.
No matter where and when you start, the point is to start. Even if you save a few dollars a month, it will add up over time. Below are 5 easy ways to start budgeting and begin to build your retirement account.
1 – Set An Automatic Deposit
Most banks will let you set up an automatic deposit on the same day each month. That’s an easy way to set a specific amount aside without having to even think about it. You can always adjust it up or down, depending on your income and expenses. Consistency is the key, even if it’s only $10 a month. You can also designate part of your paycheck to be directly sent to a savings account or to have a percentage contributed to a 401(k), which will go directly toward your retirement savings goal.
2 – Get The Company Match With A 401(k)
If your employer offers a 401(k), definitely take advantage of it, because it’s free money that you can put toward retirement. Most employers will match at a certain percentage of your contributions, up to a certain amount. For example, if your employer matches 50% of all your contributions up to 6% of your income, and you make $40,000 a year, you would get $1,200 from your employer. That’s because you would contribute $2,400 to maximize on that 6%, and then get an additional 50% of that from your employer.
3 – Spend Your Cash, Save Your Change
Only spend the bills and keep the change every time you buy something. You’ll be surprised how much you can save if you stick to it! When the coffee can is full, take it to a Coinstar machine, get the cash and deposit it in your savings or retirement account. This is a great way to establish the habit of saving.
4 – Use Your Tax Return Money To Open A Retirement Account
Many people splurge when they get their tax refund from the IRS. Rather than spending it, use it to open a new retirement savings account. This is an easy way to get yourself set up and on your way to saving. If you make it a rule to deposit your tax return money in your retirement account every year, you’ll be putting that hard-earned cash to good use.
5 – Just A Got A Raise? Use It As Savings
Every time you get a raise, bump up your savings by $10. This will help you adjust to saving more and more in comfortable amounts. This will also condition you to keep a healthy perspective as your income rises.
Remember, you don’t have to know everything about retirement planning or have a counseling session with a professional financial advisor to begin saving for retirement. When you’re ready to sit down and do some serious planning, that can come later. The point is to open a savings account and start saving what you can now. If you also want to begin investing but don’t have a lot of money to start, you can also consider opening an account with a brokerage firm that offers free stock trading. Keep in mind these are generally just promotions and brokerage typically also require a minimum balance and pay charge additional fees like inactivity fees, so don’t forget to read the fine print.
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