Most Americans acknowledge the need to save for retirement. But there is a huge difference in recognizing something is important and doing something about it.
According to a recent Fidelity survey, half of Americans don’t have enough retirement savings to cover their basic necessities. The same survey found that in order for their income to cover basic retirement expenses, 28% of respondents would need to make significant lifestyle changes.
But what if there isn’t much wiggle room in your income to make changes? In 2017, 78% of full-time workers told a CareerBuilder survey they live paycheck to paycheck.
What can the average hard-working American do?
The good news is experts agree it’s never too late to start saving. Here are four steps you can take today to begin building retirement savings.
Know where your money is going: You have to be aware of where and how you are spending your money. That means tracking everything. List it all, not just the monthly expenses. Include vacations, funding your high deductible HSA or building a college fund for the kids. (By the way, experts say retirement savings must be the first priority, not the kids’ college educations.)
Align your money with what you value: Experts say most budgets fail because they take an approach that’s too extreme. It’s easy to say cut out that Starbucks latte, cable or monthly subscription service. But if those are things you value and treasure, it’s not going to stick. Exploreways to reduce spending by looking at the expenses as a whole and making small or larger cuts based on what matters most to you and your family.
Take another look at your employee benefits: Are you maximizing all the company matching tax-deferred retirement plans like 401(k)s? Does your employer offer flexible spending accounts or have a health savings account matching program? Don’t leave free money on the table.
Shop around: Make sure you are getting the best deal whether in insurance, mobile phone service, internet provider or credit card interest rates.