Planning our finances for retirement is something that many of us put off. Ok, there are lots of sensible people out there who do begin putting money away into pensions once they start work. However, there are also the rest of us who find it all too easy to delay saving for our old age and fail to give it any serious thought until our retirement is actually imminent.
Unless you are literally retiring tomorrow, there are several ways to accumulate a little extra into the retirement pot. Perhaps not enough to traverse the world in splendour but certainly enough to help keep the wolf from the door!
Reduce Or Eliminate Your Debts
Have a clear and concise action plan to reduce and eliminate debt. If you have unsecured loans and credit cards these are no doubt charging you high interest rates every month.
- If you can pay your credit card balance in full every month then all well and good. If you can’t clear the whole balance monthly always make your minimum payments no matter what. Failure to do so will cost you extra interest and could badly affect your credit rating.
- If you can clear small loans quickly that would be your best option.
- Should neither of the above be an option you could consider consolidating your debt. Many credit cards offer 0% interest on balance transfers. If you do consider this option make sure that you set up regular DD payments to ensure that the balance is cleared before the 0% offer runs out. If you miss the cut-off date you will end up paying an extremely high interest rate.
Work Out A Sensible Savings Plan
- Calculate your monthly budget and stick to it. Be completely honest and realistic with yourself and make sure you allow a sum for emergencies and recreation. If you are too strict you will make excuses for not sticking to plan. The amount of money you have left from your outgoings can be saved into an account which gives you a higher rate of interest.
- Make your savings automatic – if your savings are transferred directly into the savings account you won’t be tempted to miss the transfer every so often.
- If you receive any form of windfall, whether it be work bonuses or an inheritance, make sure you stash away as much as you can comfortably manage.
Make Lifestyle Changes
If you are concerned that none of the above suggestions is viable because you simply don’t feel that you have any surplus income at all then you could consider making some key changes to your lifestyle.
- Drop the daily Starbucks coffee and make your own at home or work. A £2 coffee every working day represents a £10 saving each week. That’s at least £40 a month that can be saved and that’s a conservative estimate because most of us spend more each time we visit a coffee shop.
- Many of us still buy a daily newspaper and the odd magazine and often don’t even bother to read most of it. Read your news online for free and save your effort having to dispose of all that surplus paper!
- How many of us have a subscription that we never actually use – it could be a gym membership, a monthly car magazine or similar. Cancel it unless you actually use it, or find a cheaper alternative.
- Do you buy your lunch every day? Why not make your own lunch and save that purchase.
- Reduce your nights out and have friends round for dinner instead. Most of us spend way too much on babysitters, taxis, meals out and drinks in pubs and wine bars. Save the night out as a treat for a special occasion.
- Holidays are a big expense for many of us – opt for cheaper destinations, shorten the length of your annual jaunt or simply travel less often.
- Cut out unnecessary car trips – if you usually use the car to pop to the shops for small purchases why not walk or cycle. The exercise will do you good, the environment will benefit and you will save on fuel costs.
Could You Release Equity From Your Home?
Many of us continue to live in too-large houses after the kids fly the coop simply because it’s easier than bothering with the hassle of moving, but your home could hold the key to a far nicer retirement and downsizing, or moving to a different area, may be worth considering as an option.
As with most things in life, as long as you don’t leave it until it’s absolutely too late to make changes, there are many things you can do to help boost your retirement funds. Why not start making plans now, to ensure that you are comfortable later on in your retirement?