It’s time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions, and you may want to put saving for retirement at the top of your list.
I’ve found that for many people, saving for retirement isn’t a priority. If you’re young, you might think that retirement is years away and you have plenty of time to save. If you’re older, you might think you’re behind on savings and it’s too late to start. No matter where you are in life, make a commitment now to start doing things differently.
Here are three resolutions to help you get going in the right direction.
Resolution 1: Write down your reasons for saving for retirement.
One big reason people fail at sticking to resolutions is because there is nothing actually motivating them to change their habits and reach their goals. If you are just saving because you need to meet the savings goal you came up with using a retirement calculator, that isn’t going to motivate you to start saving.
Instead, imagine the things you want to do in retirement and how you are going to feel when you do them. For example, maybe you want to spend more time with your children or grandchildren. You might want to travel the world or possibly take a part-time job in a career for which you really have a passion. Once you have the reasons for your goals written down, you can then work on the numbers.
Resolution 2: Calculate your retirement number.
After you’ve gotten in touch with your feelings, it’s time to crunch some numbers. There are many retirement savings calculators available on the Internet, and it might be in your best interest to calculate your retirement number using several different sites.
I like choosetosave.org, which offers an easy-to-use, two-page worksheet that can help you estimate how much you need to save for a comfortable retirement. I do not have any affiliation and cannot guarantee the accuracy of this site, but I think it should be at least one of the sites you check out.
Resolution 3: If all else fails, something is better than nothing.
Life is busy. Maybe you want to take the time to write down your feelings and calculate what you need to start saving so you don’t have to work forever, but you just can’t get around to it. If you still want to stick to this resolution, do yourself a favor and keep it simple. Whatever you have been saving for retirement, save a little more. For example, if you have not saved anything for retirement, start putting a little away now. If you have been diligent about putting money away in your retirement savings account, your goal should be to save even more. Even $5 a month more is better than nothing.
Steve Repak is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, CFP® Board Ambassador, and financial literacy speaker. He is also an Army veteran and the author of Dollars & Uncommon Sense: Basic Training For Your Money. Follow him on Twitter: @SteveRepak