Posted by Gerald J. Turner –
No adult likes to feel like they can’t take care of themselves. One of the unfortunate truths of growing older is that many of us will not be able to get along without a little help. It’s important to have a well-structured, detailed financial plan in place as you prepare for retirement. One of the most important ways to prepare for retirement is also one of the simplest: save more cash.
For many of us, finding more dollars to stash into our savings can be difficult. But by saving a little extra each month, you will be more financially secure as you move toward retirement and beyond.
Here are a few simple reminders of ways to step up your savings game:
1. Automate your savings. For many of us, several important expenditures come off the top of our paychecks before we even see it. Things like health insurance, 401K contributions or even the mortgage can be deducted from our income before it hits our bank balance. Look at your budget, and determine an amount that you could afford to save each month. Then, set up a direct deposit for that amount from your paycheck straight to your savings account. If you don’t receive a paycheck, you can still automate a set amount to move from your everyday checking account into a savings account once or twice a month. Once it becomes automated, you won’t be tempted to skip it.
2. Use cash. For many people, using cash as much as possible is a way to control spending. By pulling out cold, hard cash to make your purchases, you are less likely to make impulse or frivolous purchases than you are if you swipe your card.
3. Use the envelope system. One way to maximize a cash budgeting system is to utilize the “cash envelope” system. Here’s how it works: each month, you withdraw all of the cash that is not allocated to bills that must be paid by automatic draft or check. Then, you divide the cash into several labeled envelopes for different categories of spending. For example, if you spend $150 on groceries each week, place $150 cash in that envelope. And when that cash is gone, it is gone–don’t dip into another envelope.
4. Set up a goal, and a reward. It may seem counterintuitive to reward yourself for saving, but if you do it right, it could work out in your favor. Set yourself a realistic goal amount that you want to save in a certain period, say 3 or 6 months. Then if and only if you reach your goal, you can splurge on a reward for your discipline. Save an extra $5,000? Treat yourself to a fancy new pair of shoes or a spa treatment.
Along with smart investments and long-term care planning, saving a little more cash each month, you can set yourself up for a more comfortable and secure retirement.
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