Seven Ways to Build Your Retirement Budget (Even If It’s Sparse)
by Michelle S. Lazurek
For someone whose budget is always tight, there is often not a lot of money left at the end of the month to put aside for retirement. This paired with low paying jobs in which benefits don’t include paying for retirement can be a recipe for disaster when we get older. How can someone still plan for retirement even if money is tight? Here are seven ways you can still build your retirement fund (and still mind your budget):
Start small. Perhaps you can’t invest a ton of money toward retirement. However, is there any disposable income in which you can designate a couple of dollars toward retirement? Set a goal for a small amount that won’t hit your budget. Can you put away $25 or $50? Every little bit helps.
If you have trouble doing this, ask your employer to take out a designated amount each pay period, so you don’t have to do it yourself—and you won’t notice it coming out.
Treat it like a bill. It’s easy to only look at the bills you pay monthly and think the immediate bills are the only place you need to allocate funds. But have you ever thought about treating your retirement fund as a bill? Set a goal to designate a certain amount of money each month to the fund, even if you haven’t done that in the past. This will help boost your retirement account and increase your discipline to save for the long-term.
Reevaluate your spending. Are there any ways you can curb your spending habits so you can use that money to put toward retirement? Can you cut your cable package (or cut cable altogether)? What about a cell phone bill? Do you go out to eat more often than you should?
Take a hard look at where your money goes each month. Even a couple of trims to your budget can add up to big bucks if you use that extra money wisely and put it away rather than spending it on frivolous luxuries.
Play catch-up. If times arise where you receive a little extra money, consider using the surplus toward your retirement. It may be tempting to use it for a vacation, a toy you have had your eye on or a treat you feel you deserve, but try thinking about putting that money toward your retirement account.
The long-term benefit of having your basic needs met years from now outweigh the temporal high that comes from the novelty of acquiring a luxury item. By being diligent and consistent in your savings, a little can accumulate quickly.
It’s never too late. Don’t feel defeated simply because you haven’t contributed as much as you would like to your retirement. It’s never too late to start. Even if you are starting late in life, it can still amount to more than you think when you finally need to access the account. It is never too late to save for the years when working is minimal yet your financial needs may be as much (or more) than they are right now.
Forsake the gifts. Instead of receiving a birthday or Christmas gift, can you ask for money to put toward retirement? If you tell friends and family you want to bolster your funds, they may understand and bless you with some extra money so you can put that extra money away. A few hundred dollars a year can add up to more over the long term if you can exhibit some self-control and delay instant gratification.
Expect the unexpected. No matter how planned you are, sometimes the unexpected situation arises that jeopardizes your financial future. An issue or injury that prohibits you from working, mounting bills that zap your savings, children that need your help or another crisis can put your financial future in jeopardy. Although you cannot plan for every unexpected situation. You can plan as best you can.
Even God is a God of order, who planned for the creation of the earth and carried out the plan successfully. We need to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us, including our retirement. Do your best to plan ahead and foresee how much money you might need for the future.
When the time comes for you to retire, that can be the best years of your life as God opens doors to a new chapter in your life. However, it is best to plan ahead, think outside the box as to how to boost your funds and delay instant gratification to ensure you have the money you need to live comfortably in the years when you stop working and start living a great life.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award winning author, speaker, pastor’s wife and mother. She is a regular contributor for ibelieve.com and crosswalk.com and is a movie reviewer for Movieguide Magazine. She also is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia and spending time with her family and her crazy dog, Cookie. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.com.
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