Retirement is the pot of gold at the end of a (hopefully) successful career. The problem? Most people need a pot of gold to get them through it, and not everyone saves as they should. Before your 401K sends you into a cold sweat, relax. These folks took to social media to share their secrets to saving for a comfortable retirement.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
1: Cut Out the Extras
You know what they say: A dollar saved is a dollar earned. One person was shocked at the extraneous expenses they dodged without changing a thing. “You just do not realize all the extra expenses you have when working that you won’t have any longer after retirement. All those breakfasts and lunches out every day? Transportation costs? Going out after the day ends with work friends? Pricey coffees? No need for any work outfits? You are going to have savings just with these alone.”
2: Let It Go
Do you lose sleep because you can’t stop thinking about “what ifs?” Take this encouraging story from a fellow fretter. “My mom, who is the biggest worry wart on the planet, told me she wished she hadn’t worried about having enough for retirement through the years. Totally unnecessary. My parents have a paid-off house and no debt. But they weren’t the best investors, panic selling when the market was low, buying when it was high. Money, in general, was tight when I was growing up.”
3: Budgeting Is Everything
If you’re used to flying by the seat of your pants with your finances, it may be time to get in check. “Make sure that you have a budget and then stick to it. Once you know your expenses, then it is easy to figure out if you are going to run out of money. Track every penny so you have a true budget; don’t guess. Once you get into the habit, it is easy, and you can look back on prior months and see how you are doing.”
4: Expect the Unexpected
Grandchild on the way? Unexpected accident? Getaway to Bora Bora? In life, anything can happen (and don’t we know it.) Planning for the unexpected can help you feel prepared in the long run, says one retiree. “Run a bunch of scenarios in a retirement planning app or website. If you put in good numbers and you’re at 90% or above, you’re good. Make sure you enter your expected death at a late age, like 98. By the way, it looks like you’re fine and should have some left to leave to us.” Sharing wealth is always appreciated, never expected… unless you’re this retiree.
5: Keep It Simple
One surefire way to stop worrying about money is to feel secure with what you’ve got. One commenter has a straightforward strategy, “Figure out your expenses, figure out your income. If your expenses are less than your income, quit worrying.”
6: Three Magic Words
Before you get too lost in the weeds thinking about what’s ahead, why not write down a plan? According to one savvy saver, it’s the best way to stop your worries and get stability. “Three simple words have ensured that I’ll not worry about running out of money in retirement… planning, planning, planning…”
7: You’re Not Alone
Financial struggles can feel isolating, and that’s enough to break most nervous nellies. One thing to keep in mind is that you’re not the only one going through it. “That’s a common concern from what I hear from retirees. I think having a good financial plan & a CFP [Certified Financial Planner] you can trust who will work with you can help with the stress.”
8: Do You Want to Play a Game?
If life is a game, you might as well have fun with it. One retiree said a great way to get your mind out of a flurry is to challenge yourself. “I make a game of how I can live better for less. I’ve been hacking our expenses and misc. extra income every year to the point where Social Security, modest pensions, and odds and ends income now cover most of our expenses.”
Pro tip: Look for entertaining activities that won’t break the bank. “We live where there are a lot of cheap and free fun things to do, which also helps the budget.”
9: Adapt and Overcome
None of us are fortune tellers, so there’s no way to predict the future. Staying light on your feet goes a long way. One commenter advises heeding this advice: “The best way to stop worrying is to fully understand your expenses. Become as liquid as you can, put your money fully to work, and maintain options so you can change up as things shift and adjust living arrangements if necessary (i.e., selling a home, downsizing, etc.).
10: Stop the Splurge
All that hard work probably has you dreaming about a shiny new boat or a new pair of shoes. You might want to hold your horses, big spender. “I splurge on a lot, but it’s all stuff I could stop immediately if I needed to do so. For me, the key is knowing that my core expenses are covered, and the rest can fluctuate. The people I see that get into a bind tend to overextend on big items you can’t cut loose easily, like a big mortgage on a home or second home, big car loans, etc.”
11: Going Carless
While not all of us have the luxury of living in a walkable city, selling your car and using alternative modes of transportation could be just what your retirement fund needs. “I read an article written by Buffet, the Financier. He said, ‘After you retire, do you really need a car?’ one person said. “Considering the expenses related to car ownership, if you don’t need it every day to go to work, get rid of it. You can take public transport, Uber, walk, bike, or scooter. If you want to take a trip, rent something. You’ll still come out cheaper than owning a car.”
12: Surprise, Surprise
Good news, you may be getting all worked up over nothing. One retiree found that you can pinch pennies with simple fixes at home. “I am seriously shocked at my lower expenses! And I don’t miss them. Totally cook and make coffee at home. Wear relaxed and comfortable clothes and haven’t felt the need to shop or ‘update.’ Even my utility bill is down because I’m not making lunches and having to wash all that paraphernalia that goes with it. My dad told me years ago this would happen, but I had a hard time believing it.”
13: Worrying Won’t Change Anything
It may seem harsh, but it’s true. One commenter hit worrisome retirees with tough love: “You either worry, or you don’t, that’s a psychological issue. From a financial viewpoint, make sure you have an estimated budget and compare it to your estimated assets/income. […] I use a spreadsheet that includes my assets, income, and expenses (to include taxes) carried out through an estimated death at 85 y/o. That lets me create tabs for different scenarios for easy comparison.”
14: Take It to Court
A pickleball court, that is. One commenter left simple advice to follow, “Play Pickleball.” This trendy sport has been taking America by storm. Not only is it a unique way to have fun and get active, but it’s also a fantastic way to get your mind off the stresses of retirement.
15: Make the Most of It
With financial woes heavy on your shoulders, don’t lose sight of the most essential part of retirement: enjoying it! One retired husband-and-wife duo has figured out what matters most. “We’re both in good health and with time being our most valuable asset, our lives have shifted to maximizing it. Bottom line, as long as our lives remain this full, I don’t see our expenses decreasing much. Fortunately, this is roughly what we had planned for, but with inflation and fear of a recession, only time will tell. To us, staying active is our key to longevity and happiness.”
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