Humor me for a moment. Take a guess as to what will be your biggest expense? A car? Your home? A second home? An airplane? How about your RETIREMENT plan instead? Studies show most people haven’t set aside enough money for their retirement much less have a retirement plan. I have carved out 20 steps to help you on your way. The objective is to have sufficient amounts of money you need when you are ready to retire.
1. Create a spending plan. It’s also called a “budget” where you actually spend less than you earn. This helps you to be disciplined enough so that you can spend and invest your money wisely. When creating your spending plan, list your financial priorities, including RETIREMENT, at the top of the list.
2. Open a separate savings account for short-term purchases. For example, expenditures you foresee needing to purchase in a five year or less window of time, set aside funds in this account. This one strategy helps define those short-term purchases and nothing more. Often times we purchase from impulse than from logic. Having a separate account where you can draw from that isn’t a credit card, will help keep those impulses at bay.
3. Increase your real estate portfolio. All the millionaire’s I know have real estate holdings. These are income producing properties you will earn money from over time, not your personal residence(s). In fact, if you have a second home, consider renting it out for those times you are not using for yourself. Web sites like HomeAway.com helps to offset expenses you would otherwise be paying and save the money towards your retirement plan or paying debt down/off.
4. Establish an emergency fund. This is different than item #2 above. An emergency fund is designated for those “unexpected” things like needing a new water heater, brake job for your car, etc. Having an emergency fund will lessen the chances of having to put such expenditures on your credit card and will help the temptation of dipping into your retirement savings.
5. Pay yourself. After tithing for the month, the next person to pay should be YOURSELF! Every little bit adds up over time and then experiencing compound interest. If you have the money automatically deposited from your paycheck, it will be automatic and you won’t miss it.
6. Review expenses quarterly and cut whenever possible. This one area is the fastest and simple ways to make money. With vendors competing for business all the time, it may be as simple as using another vendor for awhile, or cutting a coupon, buying off Craig’s list, eBay, or eat out less often and only at those establishments that offer 2-for-1 promotions and split the cost with a spouse or friend.
7. My favorite is to create an additional stream of income. Rent a room in your home, take a part time job, create an online business, sell things on eBay. Creating additional streams of income will also help keep you busy enough to avoid those emotional “shopping sprees” and will allow you to invest any additional monies you earn.
8. Invest monthly. If you have never invested in the market, take a class! Studies show you are more likely to protect and grow your money in the market than many financial planners. Additionally, with the advent of online brokerage firms, investing tools, and affordable classes, (i.e. InvestTools) odds are this is something you can learn to do over time that will pay off in a BIG way! Remember: Don’t work for money. Let your money work for you. Become an “expert” in the market.
9. Avoid bad debt: credit cards. When you add the interest rate plus the cost of the item, the net cost for your purchases are high, not to mention it affects your credit score. Don’t borrow for vacations, clothing, or hobby items unless they are in your “budget” as a line item you save for monthly and can afford. Borrowing to remodel your home to increase the value however, may be a good debt that can provide for long-term value. When remodeling however keep in mind to use neutral colors that appeals to potential buyers, and don’t improve more than the value of the homes in your neighborhood.
10. Beware of high interest loans. Look at the total cost of repaying the entire loan amount (principal and interest) off, not just the monthly payment. Stay away from high interest loans thinking you will be able to keep up the payments because of cost of living raises, anticipated money not yet earned, etc. Too often, especially in the current economic times we live in today, we buy from emotion and not from sound, wise, and logical decisions.
11. Save and Spend. If you find yourself in a two income family, consider living off one of your income and save the other’s income exclusively.
12. Get out of debt. Start with the least balance owed, pay it off, and close the account, shred the credit card. Use the monies you now have available to do the same to the next lowest credit card balance until you have only one or two credit cards with NO BALANCES to use when necessary.
13. Review. Review. Review. Review your spending plan, your emergency fund, your retirement plan, and other financial goals MONTHLY to help you stay on track consistently. This will take self-discipline but it will be worth it once it becomes habit. Give yourself at least 12-18 months before this becomes second nature to your daily life.
14. Pension plans. Many companies will let you deduct contributions before taxes. Check with your human resource department.
15. Free Money. Many companies match employee 401k contributions dollar for dollar. Check with your human resource department. Take advantage of this whenever possible.
16. Retire later. These days people are working longer, so retire later, especially if you have created additional stream(s) of income, monies generated could be what you live off of before having to start deducing from your retirement plan so that interest can continue to compound.
17. Tithe. You’ll be surprised how this simple strategy will generate more income. Many individuals will tithe to their church and/or other philanthropic choices. There are so many to choose from.
18. Long-term health care insurance. You can now use it as income when qualifying for some retirement communities.
19. Diversify. The best way to spread risk out is to diversify your financial portfolio over a variety of financial instruments.
20. Delay taking social security. Benefits will be higher when you start.
About the Author:
Dr. John (“Dealey”) Carpenter Dealey, International MasterMind expert, business mentor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and self-made millionaire is dedicated to helping people solve problems, finish strong and take their business to the next level.http://mastermindsoaring.com/
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