While the path to retirement differs with each individual and their personalized goals, certain truisms apply no matter what the approach. One is, of course, to save as much as possible, as early as possible. Two is common sense, but perhaps overlooked – spend less. It’s easier said than done – after all, short term savings goals offer attractive returns, are somewhat concrete, and seem far more attainable, while long term goals exist as abstractions with limited instant gratification. Which begs the question: how can you cut down on costs to reach your retirement goals?
Around the Home
Mortgage payments are not cheap. This sizable monthly expense may be a necessity for many homeowners, but anyone with an eye on retirement can benefit from prioritizing repayment as soon as financially possible, freeing up funds to contribute towards their nest egg. Refinancing is often beneficial as well, allowing homeowners to shorten the time frame for repayment and subsequently save on interest in the long term. Homeowners with an eye on retirement can also benefit from downsizing or relocating when circumstances, like children moving out, allow.
It is also important to let dreams of a second home rest – or at the very least, to pursue them with an eye on minimizing additional expenses. Second homes are, in practical terms, a second mortgage, which increases the possibility of falling behind on payments (and retirement goals). Second homeowners should look for properties that they can profit from, through rentals or other means, to cover whatever outlay the incur through ownership.
Focus on Your Finances
Parents want to position their children for success – even if that means taking on additional financial burden. As higher education grows more expensive, federal student loans have become more ubiquitous. But it is important to consider the repercussions of taking out PLUS loans, whose hefty interest rates – in most cases, around 7 percent – mean debt can accumulate quickly.
Somewhat counterintuitively, the best thing that parents can do for their children is to focus on shoring up their own financial footing. By ensuring a viable financial future for themselves, parents can limit the possibility of burdening their children later in life – and then position themselves to help once their situation is secured.
Short term gratification is addictive, but not necessarily the smart play for the future. Saving effectively for retirement means taking constant inventory of spending habits, then strategically determining where to cut back. Finding places to save money and learning how to limit spending means the opportunity to put more towards a retirement account, which means reaching your retirement goals sooner.
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