Ah, retirement – a time that most people look forward to every single morning they hurriedly get out of bed and throw on their work clothes. For most people, retirement means freedom, relaxation, and travel. To retire means setting out on a new adventure, far away from bosses, desks, and paychecks.
However, in today’s increasingly expensive world, even retirement seems a thing of the past. U.S. seniors are employed at the highest rate in 55 years, with 19 percent of people age 65 or older working at least part-time. Not all of these folks need the money; some just want a job to keep them busy and have a place to socialize. According to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, or EBRI, 79 percent of U.S. workers plan to supplement their retirement income with at least a part-time job.
For millennials, the idea of retirement seems like wishful thinking at best, and absolutely unattainable at worst. However, there are some things you can start doing now if you want to retire at a decent age.
Here are 10 things to start doing now if you ever want to retire:
“I’m not just retiring from the company. I’ll retire from my stress, my commute, my alarm clock, and my iron.” – Hartman Jule
1. Set aside money each month in savings
Obviously, if you blow through all your paychecks, you won’t have anything left over to save. So, budgeting for what you need and putting the rest in a separate savings account will ensure you don’t spend all your money. Plus, you’ll eventually have a nest egg to move that money around to other places, perhaps in investments or a 401K. Even if you save just $10 a month, that’s better than nothing, and it can add up over the course of a few years.
2. Get a handle on expenses
Do you need that Starbucks drink every day before work? Can you sacrifice part of your Sunday to prep meals for the week so you don’t settle for take-out most nights? Most of us get so used to our habits that we don’t see how much money we throw away every month. You can also look at your bills and call up your cable/phone/internet provider to see if you can lower them. Or, think about switching to a cheaper company.
Take a look at your monthly subscriptions as well to see if there are any automatic debits that you forgot about. If you don’t have any use for them anymore, cancel them. There are so many ways to save money; you just have to be proactive and dedicated. It might take a little work up front, but it will be well worth it when you check your bank statement.
3. Pay down debts as soon as possible
You don’t want debt hanging over your head for the rest of your life, so it’s important to pay off loans and credit card bills as quickly as possible. You can see about possibly consolidating your debt, or looking at credit cards with cheaper interest rates. As a rule of thumb, always pay off the credit cards and loans with the highest interest rates first to get them out of the way. It takes patience to pay down debts every month, but the more you chip away at it, the quicker it will get paid off.
4. Sit and write down your retirement goals
Most young people don’t think much about retirement, much less the next five years of their lives. However, planning for the future is essential if you ever want to retire. How much money do you want to have when you retire? What age do you want to retire? How will you get from Point A to Point B? Who will you call on for advice to help you sort out your plans?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself, but don’t worry – you don’t need a plan set in stone just yet. You just need to get started on at least a rough outline of what you want your financial future to look like. You could even meet with a financial advisor who can help you sort out the details.
5. Look at ways to earn passive income
Have you ever thought about writing a book? Starting a website? Selling a product? These are all excellent ways to earn passive income, and who doesn’t want to earn money while they’re not working?! This is the age of opportunity, so take advantage of it. Don’t just settle for a job you hate that you’ll be stuck at until you’re 80 with a dismal retirement fund – get out there and follow your dreams because it just might mean you get to retire while you’re still relatively young.
6. Put your money into investments
Now, we don’t claim to be financial experts here, but investing is undoubtedly a great option if you have the extra funds. If the stock market scares you, you’re not alone, but you don’t have to start out with high-risk investments immediately. Instead, you could start with investing apps that take a portion of your income each month and do all the heavy-duty work for you. We recently had some success when we bought Coinbase shares through an investing app that has yielded pretty sweet dividends thus far. Or, choose a low-risk mutual fund, certificate of deposit, or dividend-paying stocks to get your feet wet. You might want to take some courses on investing or meet with a financial advisor if you choose this option.
7. Keep tabs on your credit score
Most people cringe at the thought of checking their credit, but it’s important to know your score so you can either a) improve it if need be or b) pat yourself on the back a little bit. If you want to buy a house or car, they will check your credit score and minor things such as buying an apartment or trying to finance a MacBook. Making sure you have a good credit score will help you later on if you can’t pay up front for something and need to rely on credit to make the purchase.
There are many free ways to check your credit score, such as through your bank or on sites like Credit Sesame.
8. Practice minimalism
This isn’t just some New-Age, “woo-woo” idea to reach enlightenment and rid yourself of emotional baggage forever – this can actually help you retire younger, too! Think about it: how much money could you save if you bought a used car and a one-bedroom older home as opposed to a new, 4-bedroom home? Assess what you really NEED in life versus what you want, because if you give into your every desire, you won’t have much money left over. Maybe set aside a little spending money each month in the form of cash so that you aren’t tempted to just swipe your card wherever you go.
9. Sell stuff you don’t need
Expanding on the point above, gather up some things around your house you know you don’t use anymore. That dress you haven’t worn in months? Sell it at a garage sale. What about your old laptop or gaming systems that are just collecting dust? You might not make a lot of money on this method, but it could be used toward investments or even starting your own business. Every little bit counts.
10. Choose credit cards with rewards
Who doesn’t want to be rewarded for buying something? Most credit cards today offer rewards every time you make certain purchases, or if you spend a certain amount within a few months. Some even offer huge sign-up bonuses that give you thousands of points! The choices are endless, so do a little research on what card is right for you. Some are geared toward specific purchases, such as flights and hotels, while others are more universal. However, any money you can save with rewards is worth it.
Retiring might be the last thing on your mind, but planning for the future is vitally important, especially in times of financial uncertainty. It doesn’t have to be rocket science; simply make a plan, budget, and figure out how much money you want to set aside each month in savings. Meet with as many financial planners as you need to in order to feel confident and knowledgeable about your finances. They can help remove some of the confusion and fear that goes along with investing and saving money.
With these tips, we sincerely hope that you can retire at whatever age you wish with plenty of money left for the things you enjoy!