As the New Year begins, the vast majority of American workers vow to save more money. But life gets in the way, and the truth, for many, is that savings wind up getting short shrift. Financial strategists at The Motley Fool, a money guide for skilled and less-experienced savers, have put together a seven-strategy plan to help consumers maximize retirement savings:
Pay yourself first – You may have heard this before, but saving must be your number one budget item. The only way to ensure you hit aggressive savings goals is to put a sum of money away each month before the rent and other bills eat it up.
Start early – The sooner you start putting money away, the bigger the likelihood you will save enough for an easier retirement. Putting larger sums away at a more advanced age will likely not make up for the years you missed.
Take advantage of employer match – Most employers offer a match to employees' retirement savings either as a percent of salary or contributions. Either way, it's free money and an opportunity you shouldn't pass up.
The 500 Plan – This is a tough one, but the iPlanRetirement blog proposes a plan to save $1 million in just 20 years. You put away $500 every month for a year. The next year, increase the savings to $600 – and increase the savings by another $100 a month every succeeding year.
Save your raises – Most workers can count on an annual raise, at an average of five percent. If you stow the raise away each year for 20 years, you will be on your way to amassing $1 million.
Increase income, but not spending – If you aren’t getting raises, look for other ways to increase your income. Get a part time job. Buy and sell on eBay or at a swap meet. Use your crafting, writing or other talents to earn extra money.
Take on some risk – It’s hard to amass a hefty sum by depositing your money in a savings account. A major savings goal requires substantial returns, and the only way to realize those returns is to take on some investment risk. Do some studying first, or get advice from a professional financial advisor.
By Barbara Pronin