What’s More Realistic, Bigfoot or a Secure Retirement?

Bigfoot© Rich Legg / Getty Images Signature / Canva

Did know that nearly one in three people believe they have better chances of stumbling upon Bigfoot than saving enough to live comfortably in retirement? This surprising statistic comes from a recent AARP and Ad Council survey.

But don’t let the prospect of saving for your retirement intimidate you. The truth is you’re probably better at saving than you realize. Have you already put kids through college, bought a house, or purchased a car or two? Well then, congratulations! The careful planning and savings skills you’ve already used can help you reach your next big financial goal: a secure retirement.

Effective retirement planning is made easy with the right tools! AARP and the Ad Council offer a free online resource to help you create a personalized action plan in just a few minutes. Say hello to Avo – your friendly digital retirement coach at AceYourRetirement.org. In three minutes, you can get tips on saving strategies, personal advice, and answers. The to-do list format works for everyone – young or old, AARP member or not. By starting now, you’ll gain peace of mind and a concrete plan. Although everyone’s situation may differ, here are steps you can take today to aim for a secure future.

1. Make the most of your employer’s retirement benefits.

Ensure you’re making the most of your workplace savings plan so that you can meet your financial goals. If your employer matches your contribution, consider optimizing your savings potential by hitting the maximum threshold that your company offers. It’s not difficult to think of this as “free money” because you’re essentially getting paid a portion of your salary as a complimentary savings contribution to your financial future!

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But what if you want to go further than that and seriously maximize your financial security? You can consider contributing a percentage or two beyond your employer’s match. This way, you’re not only earning the full benefit of your employer’s contribution but also investing in your own financial future.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for a long-term savings goal of 10-15% of your income. This kind of realistic and manageable target assures you a bright and prosperous future, ensuring your financial stability in years to come. Don’t wait until tomorrow; start securing your financial future today!

2. Strive towards debt reduction.

It’s always wise to reduce debt, regardless of your circumstances. Debt is a sneaky thief nibbling at the savings you’re working hard to put aside. The good news is, there are many ways to pay off debt effectively.

A good starting point is checking the interest rates on your current mortgages, car loans, home equity loans, parent loans, or credit cards. The higher the interest rate, the more interest you’ll end up paying over time.

Once you’ve identified your highest interest loans or cards, focus on paying them down first while making minimum payments on the rest. This will free up more money to allocate to your remaining debt.

To save even more, you can call your credit card companies and ask for a lower interest rate. If possible, some debts may qualify for refinancing, making it easier for you to lower your interest rates. With proper planning and consistent effort, anyone can reduce their debt and achieve financial freedom.

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3. Initiate a family conversation.

Making any major financial decision is a complex process that should be done with everyone involved on the same page. You and your spouse can collaborate on setting a comprehensive budget and creating incremental yet achievable goals together. For instance, paying down debt and saving for retirement would be top priorities, whereas assisting adult children with their education, housing, or other responsibilities should be secondary.

By having these discussions as a family, you can work towards a prosperous future while still maintaining your financial commitments. Communication is key in financial planning, and it is important to revisit your goals and budget frequently to ensure you are on the right track. Additionally, seeking professional financial advice can provide you with the expertise and guidance necessary to navigate complex financial matters and achieve your goals faster.

4. Strategize the timing of your retirement.

Retiring “as soon as possible” may not always be the optimal strategy. While it may seem tempting to relax and enjoy a well-deserved retirement, the financial benefits of waiting a little longer for that day to arrive can be significant. Not only can working for a few more years provide an additional income and boost your nest-egg, but it can also secure your financial stability for the rest of your life.

In fact, waiting until your late 60s or early 70s to retire can greatly enhance your long-term financial security. Additionally, postponing the claiming of your Social Security benefits also has its advantages. By delaying your claim, you can enjoy an increased annual benefit for the duration of your life.

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Calculating your Social Security benefits and devising a suitable retirement plan can be a daunting task. However, with the help of the Social Security Administration’s retirement estimator tool at ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/estimator.html, you can easily determine the ideal retirement strategy for you.

5. Practice living within your financial limits.

Achieving financial security can be a tough process, and it all starts with spending only what you can afford! This can take work, such as developing a budget, tracking spending, and prioritizing short-term savings. Those extra dollars you can keep in your pocket today can be put back into your savings, making for a stable and worry-free future.

By keeping tabs on your budget, you can learn what you can do to save money, whether it’s taking advantage of sales or using coupons to save on purchases. Through careful tracking, you will also be able to make accurate long-term projections for your financial future.

To truly enjoy the present while safeguarding your future, try your best to save a little bit towards retirement every month. Even the smallest amounts can add up over time, helping you get closer to a secure and comfortable retirement.

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This article is intended for informational, entertainment or educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice, guidance or counsel. It is provided without warranty of any kind.