Having a proper plan in place to save for retirement will guarantee that you’ll be more comfortable during retirement.
Consulting a professional is always helpful, but there are several things that you can do on your own to ultimately increase your retirement savings.
There are small changes you can make in your lifestyle today to boost your retirement fund and help you retire on time or even early. Check out these easy savings hacks and get started today.
1. Make a list and stick to it
Like most Americans, you probably have many responsibilities and it’s easy to make financial mistakes when your life is a whirlwind of kids and sports and work and travel.
Before you head out to do your shopping though, take a few minutes to make a list. When you shop without a list, you are more likely to buy things you don’t need.
Do a quick inventory of your produce and daily basics before you shop. Quick in-and-out trips to the grocery store rather than long leisurely browsing will prevent you from spending more than you need to.
This one savings hack will be beneficial in the long run and the money you save can add up over time, giving you more to invest in your retirement fund. You’ll also benefit from less stuff cluttering up your home.
2. Quit impulse buying
Impulse Buying is something that most people struggle with and it’s gotten worse since the advent of social media. A 2016 poll by creditcards.com showed that 5 in 6 Americans have made impulse buys, mostly for themselves.
It’s not hard to know why. Millions of brands have hired advertising companies who are doing their jobs 24/7 in attracting consumers to make quick decisions to buy their products.
Email notifications also drive massive numbers of people to make one-click purchases. Controlling this habit can be difficult but the benefits are long lasting and rewarding. If you tend to spend impulsively on Facebook or Instagram, try deleting those apps from your phone. You’ll be less tempted if you don’t give advertisers so much access to you.
You can also implement the 48-hour rule. If you see something and feel the impulse to buy it, make yourself wait 48 hours. Then ask yourself whether you still really want that product. Every time the answer that you give yourself is no, that’s money you’ve saved for a better long-term purpose.
Quitting the impulse buying is a big step towards your financial independence and it can help you to retire with a strong financial standing.
3. Disconnect the services/subscriptions you do not use
Many people fall into the trap of committing to a service we really do not need/use on daily basis. A simple example is the gym membership that you rarely use or a magazine subscription when you have unread issues piling up on your desk or kitchen table.
Even more common these days are smartphone apps that you subscribe to on your phone. It’s easy to forget how many premium apps you are spending $7.99/month on these days.
You can audit your credit card bills or your bank statements to see which items you’ve set up to autodraft to your card or checking account. You can also sign up for apps like Truebill which will audit your spending and help you identify and cancel unwanted subscriptions.
Spending some time in locating and cancelling these services will put all this money back in to your account and add up to your savings.
4. Re-examine your mobile phone service
Mobile services are one of the bigger expenses that are almost unavoidable in the present day. An average cellphone plan starts from $50 dollars and can go up to over $100/month depending on the area in which you live and how many family members are on your plan.
Talking to the phone company is certainly no one’s favorite thing to do, but if you don’t re-evaluate your plan every year or two, you can easily end up spending more than you need to.
Mark your calendar to check in with your cell phone carrier every year in January. Ask about any new plans or programs that they have rolled out in the last year that could benefit you. Not long ago I saved a chunk of money on my cell phone bill by upgrading an old outdated plan to a newer one that came with unlimited data usage.
My friend Bobbi Rebell of the Financial Grownup podcast has a great episode on how she saved an astonishing amount of money by reviewing her family’s phone and cable bills. You can listen to it here.
Considering the newer cellphone companies might also be worth looking into because they tend to offer creative and money-saving plans. Don’t forget to also make the best use of free Wi fi that is available pretty much everywhere and move to the basic and the cheapest plan with your carrier.
Many employers also offer discounted cell phone plans. You might be able to get some kind of discount. Saving $20 – $40/month adds up to hundreds that you can plunk down into your 401K or IRA.
5. Try a minimalist mindset
Shifting your mindset towards “Minimalism” is an important trait that can help you focus on the things that are more important and takes your attention away from material things.
The first step to minimalism is to declutter your living space and get rid of all the things you have not used in years.
This practice will earn you some money as there are online services like Facebook Marketplace. Letgo, Offerup and Craigslist where you can sell the items that are no longer in use. Less things to take care of and more money in your savings/retirement fund.
If you implement this one with gusto, you may also find that someday you don’t need so much space. You’ll be in a better place to downsize your mortgage or monthly rent as you head into retirement.
6. Sign up for cost-cutting apps
There are few expenses that everyone incurs. One of the biggest ongoing expenses is the grocery bill. Average Americans spend a significant amount of their income towards their grocery shopping each year.
Fortunately, there are ways to cut down on this cost. Using Cashback apps and Price Matching can be a life saver when it comes to fresh produce.
For example, the ibotta smartphone app saves you money by showcasing offers from your favorite grocery markets, restaurants, pharmacies, and stores. You select the offers that appeal to you and then go shopping. When you upload your receipt to the app afterward, it will apply the savings from our offers, and you’ll receive your earnings within 24 hours. No coupon clipping required!
Over time these small amounts can pile up a nice bit of cash.
7. Cook your own food
Now that you are saving on all those groceries, it’s time to put them to good use. The simple act of cooking at home can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.
You don’t have to learn to be a gourmet chef. There are hundreds of Youtube videos out there that will teach you how make easy healthy meals. Reducing your restaurant spending can often trim hundreds or even thousands of dollars from your yearly expenditures.
Implementing one or more of these savings hacks will help you eliminate some of the worry you have about your future. The money or energy you are putting in right now will have lifetime benefits and can be a foundation for a financially stable retirement.