Ways to Save More

Ways to Save More — Spend Less, Save More, and Your Future Self Will Thank You

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From the moment we’re born, we’re conditioned for immediate gratification. Even when we become adults, saving for the future often takes a back seat to spending in the present. But you’re smart enough to overcome those tendencies, right? You know you should be saving for your future or you wouldn’t be reading this. Here are a few tips on how to save more and give yourself a better opportunity to reach your retirement goals.

Free up the funds

First, you need to let go of the “I can’t afford to save” mantra. The reality is, you can’t afford NOT to save. No doubt, you have expenses, but you also probably buy things you don’t really need. Create a household budget to find areas you can trim without ruining your lifestyle. Put whatever you save with your budget cuts into your retirement accounts. Saving a little is better than not saving at all.

The reality is, you can’t afford NOT to save.

Max out your contributions

If you have access to a tax-deferred retirement plan at work, contribute as much as you can. It may help to lower your current income taxes (which saves money) and you can take advantage of the power of compounding. The IRS allows individuals to contribute up to $17,500 a year in a workplace plan.1 If you can’t save to the limit, save at least enough to get the maximum employer match.

If you’re age 50 or over, you can put away an additional $5,500 in catch-up contributions for a total of $23,000 in 2013.1 After you’ve maxed out contributions in your employer’s plan, consider also contributing to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

Prioritize your spending and saving

Here are a few more tips that can help you get on the savings track and stay there:

  • Crush your credit cards — Credit card interest can siphon a lot from your bank account. Pay off your cards and make a commitment to only charge what you can afford to pay off each month.
  • Shift debt payments — Once you pay off a car loan or other debt, repurpose those payments into retirement contributions.
  • Give yourself a raise — When you earn a salary raise or bonus, or if someone gifts you money or you receive an inheritance, invest some or all of the money into your retirement saving accounts.
  • Escalate your contributions — It may be much easier to inch up your retirement contributions one percent a year than jump from five percent to 10 percent all at once. If your employer plan offers an automatic contribution escalator, sign up and let those increases happen automatically.

Pay yourself first

If you plan to gradually save more, you may experience a happier and more secure lifestyle now and in retirement. It takes commitment, discipline and a willingness to think ahead so your future self can have more options.

1 IRS contributions limits are for 2013. These limits are subject to change in future years. Certain employer-sponsored plans may have their own salary percentage contribution limits.

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