About two out of three American workers are saving for retirement, but less than half are confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years.1 However, even those who are confident may not have realistic expectations.
Consider that a $250,000 account earning a 5% annual return could provide an income of about $1,000 per month (without dipping into principal). Yet only 10% of workers have savings of $250,000 or more.2
Saving for retirement might seem daunting, but you may be able to increase the amount you are saving without making huge sacrifices. Taking some small steps today might make a big difference when you are ready to retire.
Save an extra 1% of your salary each year. Raising your retirement contribution in small increments may not have much effect on your take-home pay, but the long-term results could be significant (see chart). The IRS sets annual contribution limits for retirement plans, but the amount you can actually contribute will depend on your plan’s rules.
Give your retirement a raise. The next time you receive a pay increase, try to divert part or all of it toward your long-term financial goals. Recall the last time you received a raise and how quickly the extra money was absorbed by your spending. You might find it easier to save a raise if you don’t allow yourself to spend the extra money.
Make payments to yourself. When you pay off a debt, such as a car loan or a credit-card balance, consider pretending that you still owe the monthly payment — to yourself. Because the payment is already built into your budget, this could be a simple way to make additional progress toward your long-term goals.
Avoid credit-card debt. Some forms of debt, such as mortgages and auto loans, may be necessary for your basic lifestyle. The same usually cannot be said of credit-card debt. Before you put a major purchase on your credit card — one that you may not be able to repay in full when you receive the next statement — consider that the expense is likely to increase the amount of time it could take to reach your retirement goals.
Cut out a small expense. Life’s little pleasures — coffee drinks, bottled water, eating in restaurants — are important, but you might be surprised by their true cost. For example, saving $5 per day would equal $150 per month. If this amount were contributed to an account earning an 8% annual return, the balance could reach more than $140,000 after 25 years.
These hypothetical examples are used for illustrative purposes only and do not represent the performance of any specific investment. Fees, expenses, and taxes are not considered and would reduce the performance described if they were included. Actual results will vary.
If you don’t have a lot of money to devote to your long-term financial goals, you may have an equally important asset: time for your savings to grow. Finding small ways to save more today could help you enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle in retirement.
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