retirement

How to Save 15% for Retirement Without Cramping Your Style

5 Minute Read

A recent study conducted by Ramsey Solutions shows yet again how unprepared Americans are for retirement. The Retirement in America study found that 54% of Baby Boomers (people born 1946–1964) still in the workforce have less than $25,000 saved for retirement. Even more alarming is the fact that more than half of that group have no nest egg at all.(1) That’s not okay!

Listen up: It could be easier than you think to turn that trend on its ear. Let’s say you work with an investing pro and start contributing $300 a month—about 6% of the median income—to your retirement accounts.(2) If you did that for just five years, you could retire with over $260,000 in your nest egg in 30 years. That may not provide a four-star retirement, but at least it’s a start!

That means with a little planning and a big dose of motivation, nearly everyone can retire with at least enough money to cover their bills. I’ll show you how.

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Save Without the Sacrifice

Now, I’m not saying you should invest $300 a month for the next five years and call it a day. That’s not okay, either! To get the kind of retirement we all dream of, you need to consistently put away 15% of your gross income. But for right now, let’s just focus on that first $300. Where can you find $300 a month in your budget to get started on your nest egg?

Your first thought might be to slash your restaurant or entertainment budget or to get a second job. Obviously, if you’re overspending in those areas, cutting back is a wise choice. And extra income from a side job makes reaching any financial goal much easier.

But you may not have to completely sacrifice your time and your small luxuries. Here are a few painless but effective options to kick-start your retirement plan.

Roll In That Raise:

Any time you get a bump in pay, you need to celebrate—not because you can buy more stuff, but because you can roll that money right into your retirement account! Employers project the average raise to be 3% in 2018.(3) With the median household income at $57,617, that 3% raise could be worth roughly $1,725 this year.(4) That works out to about $144 a month! Getting a bonus? Shift that into your 401(k) or Roth IRA for an easy way to reach your investing goal without ever touching any item in your budget!

No More Loans for Uncle Sam:

The average income tax refund was around $3,000 for the 2017 tax season.(5) That’s a hefty sum to loan to Uncle Sam for a year. It just takes a few minutes to reduce your withholding amounts so that money goes to your 401(k) instead of the government—to the tune of $250 a month!

Rake In Cash With a Yard Sale:

People spend more than $4.2 million at yard sales each week in the U.S.(6) Get in on that action and sell some stuff! Put the profits toward retirement investments, where even $100 can turn into thousands of dollars in your nest egg. And based on the stuff I’ve seen at garage sales, you can rack up more than $100 easy!

Miscellaneous Moolah:

Don’t forget about small expenses that can add up.

  • Cell phone bills can be pricy these days, and with unlimited plans making a comeback, it’s easy to overpay for services, features and data that you don’t really use. If you only use 3 GB of data, why pay for 16 GB? By switching carriers or opting for a plan with less data, you could have an additional $50 a month to put toward your future wealth.

  • Those who cut cable save $104 on average.(7) Switch to a streaming service for around $10 a month and add $90 to your monthly retirement investing. That $90 per month could turn into almost $200,000 in 30 years. Not a bad trade-off for turning off the reruns.

Utilizing just a couple of these options has the potential to put you above your $300-a-month retirement investing goal—and those are just a few of the possibilities. Get creative and see what else you can come up with. Keep in mind that this isn’t just a penny-pinching exercise. Every dollar you add to your monthly contributions means more money for your dream retirement!

Make Your Money Work for You

After all that work finding money to invest for retirement, the last thing you want to do is put it in a bad investment. A 401(k) with a matching contribution from your employer is a good place to start since it gives you an instant—and guaranteed—return on your money.

But don’t stop there. Add a Roth IRA for tax-free withdrawals in retirement and a wider selection of good growth stock mutual funds. Don’t follow in the footsteps of the majority of Americans who keep putting off saving for retirement. Find an investing pro in your area today!

About Chris Hogan

Chris Hogan is the #1 national best-selling author of Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age; It’s a Financial Number and host of the Retire Inspired Podcast. A popular and dynamic speaker on the topics of personal finance, retirement and leadership, Hogan helps people across the country develop successful strategies to manage their money in both their personal lives and businesses. You can follow Hogan on Twitter and Instagram at @ChrisHogan360 and online at chrishogan360.com or facebook.com/chrishogan360.

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