Many people think that retirement is all about not having to work, going on long holidays abroad, gardening, and living off a monthly pension. But it’s a lot harder than you think. With old age comes big financial responsibilities, and essentials like regular checkups, medications, senior care costs, and emergencies will easily dry out your savings.
If it’s your goal to become financially independent after retirement, here are things you should do now, whatever your age.
Live below your means
The best way to save money, whether for something short-term like an emergency fund or something long-term like your retirement, is to live below your means. Of course, it’s not easy if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but you should try as hard as you can to adjust your lifestyle and find ways to save at least 20 percent of your monthly income. You can achieve this by making even the smallest changes, such as making your own coffee instead of buying a Starbucks or quitting expensive vices such as drinking and smoking.
Clear your debt
While it’s easier said than done, you must clear out your student loans, credit card bills, and other debts for you to have a decent retirement fund. If you’re up to your neck in debts, devise a plan on how you can pay them out as soon as possible before the interests build up. You can go to your back and apply for debt restructuring, or you can get side gigs for extra cash. You can also take out a loan with much lower interest rates to pay off current debts. Create a timeline for paying off your bills and stick to it.
Once you’ve cleared them out, try to avoid debt altogether so you can allot more of your income to your savings. Not having any debt before you retire is not only good for you but also eases the financial burden on your family, should you pass away unexpectedly. Plus, it ensures that you get your 401(k) and other retirement funds in full.
Downsizing is always a smart move, no matter your age. Accumulating stuff you don’t need or living in a house with space you don’t use adds up to your expenses, and thus making your retirement goals harder to achieve. If you find that you’re spending most of your income on maintaining your home, then it’s time to consider moving to a smaller space and getting rid of things that don’t add to your happiness. The small sacrifices you make today in your current home could translate to better options for your future, such as being able to afford top-notch assisted living homes that meet all your needs.
Lower your bills
If downsizing is not feasible at the moment, then your next best option is to optimize your electricity, water, phone, internet, and other utility bills. If your old air conditioner is hogging energy and driving your bills through the roof, replace it with a more energy-efficient unit such as an inverter, window-type model. Take shorter showers and don’t keep the tap running while you brush your teeth, turn off idling appliances, avoid overcharging your electronics, and choose a cheaper data or internet plan. These simple changes can make a huge difference to your life after retirement.
Build your career or grow your business
Whether you’re employed or self-employed, always find new ways to increase your income. Aim for that managerial post even if you feel underqualified, learn new skills to boost your qualifications, or find new job opportunities with a more competitive compensation package. If you’re a business owner, expand your offerings and widen your reach so that your bottom line increases year on year. If you stick to what you know and don’t invest in any development, your dream of a happy, financially-steady retirement may not come to fruition.
Create passive income
Learning how to build wealth is one of the most effective ways to achieve financial freedom. But it doesn’t necessarily mean investing in stocks and buying an investment property. There are simpler ways to earn passive income, such as a side gig or consultancy job, mom-and-pop business, high-yield savings account or time deposit, or affiliate marketing. You can even rent out a room in your house or capitalize on a skill or hobby if you’re up for it.
Invest in low-risk assets
Some people with a high-risk appetite would gamble their retirement money for potentially sizable earnings. But if you’re not well-versed in investing in stocks and other volatile assets but want to grow your money, consider low-risk investments such as mutual funds, real estate, corporate bonds, and fixed annuities. You can also co-own a business or real estate investment so you can share the costs and responsibilities with others. It’s only wise to invest your retirement savings if you have other sources of income. Otherwise, it’s best to keep your hard-earned money safe and tucked away from the hands of strangers.
Retirement is a scary thought, especially if you’re just in your late twenties still trying to figure out life. But you can ease your worries and look forward to a better future with these recommendations.