How to make yourself save for retirement

If you haven't started socking away for your golden years, it's time to stop the excuses. Here are a few strategies to get you started.

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81Comments
Oct 15, 2013 12:28AM
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jlm274 – your rant is pathetic. Poor, poor pitiful you!! Stand up and zip your pants – real men don’t squat to pee.

 

Evidently most of the baby boomers and all of the subsequent generations missed the class on "pay yourself first".

As a teenager in the sixties I started off earning $1.85 an hour. Every paycheck, first thing,10% went into my savings account. Regardless of number of hours worked, bonus, overtime, or anything else. As years went by and wages went up I still paid myself that 10% every payday.

I didn’t pay my ego with a new car every couple years or use credit instead of saving for what I wanted.

I didn’t finished college or ever hold a job that paid more than 50K a year. I never had an employer paid pension contribution.

Today, I own my home, my car, my truck & my boat. My net worth is slightly north of1.3 mil.

I retired when I turned 58 and I waited until 65 to start drawing social security.

All because I paid myself first.

 

Oct 15, 2013 8:42AM
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Hard to save when you are middle class and getting nailed with every tax under the sun.  Everything goes up, utility bills, food.  My water, sewer, garbage bill just went from 130 dollars to 175 dollars!  We work hard and there is nothing left.  The person that has 1.3 million.  Do you have children?  Property taxes go up also every year.  The rich are fine and the poor get it all for free.  I don't have energy assistance, free day care, food stamps, and free health care.  I work really hard.  Congress needs to do their job and help the middle class stay strong.
Oct 15, 2013 10:57AM
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Having even a small amount saved for retirement is better then having nothing at all. 

 

Do not get hung up on the idea of am I saving enough, just start saving. 

 

I agree budgets are tight and incomes have not kept pace with inflation.  Yes the government is taxing us to death.  Kids and medical expenses can get in the way. None of this must keep you from trying.   Even a small amount each week to start with is better than doing nothing at all.  You will be amazed how it will add up.

 

When the day comes that you do finally retire, you will be better off having saved something.  It may not be the amount you hoped for or the amount the so called financial experts feel you should have saved, but be proud of what you did save.  Considering all the things that are currently working against you, you did a GREAT job. 

Oct 15, 2013 7:53PM
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I've heard enough ranting from those who brag about their saving aptitude.  And I've heard enough from those who blame Democrats or Republicans for thier financial woes.  The real problem is not taxes on the middle class,  because they've held steady for the last 40 years.  It's partly a sense of entitlement; i.e. a confusion between needs and wants (no, an i-phone is not a need, and neither is a television).  However, I believe the main problem is the stagnation in wages and the disappearance of pensions.  Inflation has not been particulary high over the past 40 years, nevertheless, wages have not kept up with inflation.  This makes us poorer now than we were in previous years/decades.  We are working more hours yet taking home less in adjusted wage earnings.

 

I make a good salary (top 10% wage earner) and save like crazy.  I've maximized my retirement contribution ever since I started working after graduate school, and that was nearly 30 years ago.  But I look at my friends and co-workers and recognize that so many are behind the proverbial 8 ball.  Sure I could be self-righteous about my saving ability, but the truth is that I make enough money to have the luxury of saving.  The vast majority don't enjoy that luxury.  Indeed, most people I know are only 2-3 missed paychecks away from financial ruin.

 

A recent study looked at the expenses for a family of 4 living in Houston and earning the median income ($63,000).  After paying for a house (at the mean price for homes in Houston), utilities, health insurance, food, clothing and transportation, there was nothing left for entertainment, much less college savings or retirement savings. 

 

You can blame whatever political party you want, but the real culprit is a business/government model that allows for an increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a decreasing percentage of people.  While the Median income (half the population is higher and half is lower) is $63,000, the mean income (the average income for everyone) is much higher.  This can only happen if there are persons so heavily compensated that it skews the data.  In the past the CEO of a company earned 20 times what the average worker made.  Now that person earns 200 times what the average wage earner makes.

 

I'm not a socialist; I'm a fan of the free market economy.  I suppose we could say that this is the free market at work, but those at the top have the advantage of tax breaks and other benefits that allow them it increase their wealth while the rest of the population (me included) struggles.  In essence, the rule are heavily in their favor.  That's why I don't have a problem with the inheritance taxes, the Affordable Care Act, eliminatioN of the Capitol Gains Tax or numerous other programs that are aimed at helping the middle class at the expense of the privileged.  Those "Occupy Wallstreet" folks were a little to nutty for mainstream America to take seriously, but they had a few very good points.

 

Oct 14, 2013 10:30PM
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Yep this is what I'll do. I just need to figure out where that 20 k I am going to save is coming from. Since if I remember right the median income across the united states is aprox 50-60 k  I wonder how people are suppose to save 40% of their income.
Oct 15, 2013 9:32AM
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Congrats jlm274  - Looks like you listened to the advice that was out there, but most ignored !

I'm a bit behind you, but similar story/will retire at 56. Always paid myself first, then looked at what was left over to decide what was a "want vs. a need" and covered the needs first. No extra cash, then no toys, entertainment or going out till the next paycheck. 

 We have 2 kids, saved enough to also pay for their college in addition to our retirement. My wife is the queen of coupon shopping and bargain hunting. My daily driver is an econobox with 193,000 miles. Most of our family entertainment was low cost - visit family, camping, hiking, tennis, bicycling. 
Priorities.

  Most people can save something, and the younger you start the better since you gain tremendously from compound interest - you actually can end up not needing to take out as much each year from your paycheck the earlier you start. 

 There are websites to help/give tips, but a good place to start is to run a  spending diary for just a week or 2 and track where every dollar goes. A month is better so you catch all utilities, but just a week will help.  Review the list and decide which were wants vs. needs.  Many people can find hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year just in coffee, lunch or dinners out, movies, TV/Cell/Internet expenses, etc. With compound interest, that could be your million plus retirement fund right there.

 
Oct 15, 2013 9:30AM
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Good luck on that retirement thing you all!  Especially those of you living pay check to pay check! 
Oct 15, 2013 1:17PM
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You either save now or eat cat food later.
Oct 15, 2013 3:31PM
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One of the many things my parents taught me was how to save. They both lived through a depression and learned the value of living within your means, saving for a rainy day, and staying out of debt.

 

My parent taught me well. I have always been a good saver but did not become a good investor until I was in my thirties. I have been very good at managing my money. I keep to a strict budget, have no debt, live within my means, and have a rainy day fund for unexpected events.

 

I take full advantage of my employers 401K company match. I have an IRA I invest in. I try to contribute the maximum amounts allowable in all my tax deferred plans. I am invested in stocks that have dividend reinvestment plans. I learned the value of starting small and through the course of time and compounding have seen my investments grow. 

 

 I am in my fifties and plan on working for another twelve years. I am on track to achieve all of my investment and retirement goals. I have lived through the ups and downs of the stock market. I have been downsized and had to start over. When I have learned is that it is best to have a plan and set goals for your life and your investments, live within your means, stay out of debt, and save for a rainy day.

 

The early you start your  plan the easier it will be when you get older.

 

The early you  

 

 

Oct 15, 2013 9:32AM
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the classic:  "assuming 8 percent annual growth" line has changed over the years from other "average" growth numbers like 10%, 11%, 12%...

 

run a spreadsheet and it always looks great in time. 

 

reality?  not the same.  add in cases like the 7 out of 10 companies i've worked for that have disappeared.  401k?  see-ya!  company matching?  see-ya!  fully invested company match?  see-ya!  does the next company even HAVE a 401k?  heck no! 

 

the stay at home spouse who makes no money?  no problem?  "just" have her husband stash away more money!  oh sure.....that's easy! 

 

the slide show is obviously an ad for the mutual fund industry.....

Oct 15, 2013 1:05PM
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Treat your savings as your first, and most important bill. Everyone should read 'The Richest Man in Babylon'. It will change your life. Or you can ignore me and keep being miserable and stressed... I don't care.
Oct 15, 2013 5:57PM
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if you cannot figure out how to save, ask your parents. they usually made smaller salaries but kept money for an emergency and figured out how retirement works.  they bought insurance in case they needed protections.  my average income has been around $30,000 and after 30 years of working i have $500,000+  in investments, a nice home, and loan free vehicles  i have been able to afford trips around the u,s and the world.  no body said it would be easy, just work hard and play hard.   we only go 'round once...

Oct 15, 2013 2:16PM
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Easy for someone to save money if they can make enough money. The average American cannot save because of the rising cost of living without any raises. Where I work, we had one 2% mesly cost of living since 2007 and that was last year when the social security tax absorbed all of it. So how the heck can someone save any money? Seriously!
Oct 19, 2013 10:42AM
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Bottom line, if you ain't got the money to save a bundle you're screwed. My pitiful 401k goes up and down like a yo yo and my small savings account pays less than 1 percent interest. Actuallly about 1/2 of one percent.
Oct 15, 2013 12:42PM
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TO THE OREGON BIRD,

I WISH I HAD BEEN THAT SMART. MY HAT GOES OFF TO YOU!!!

Oct 19, 2013 7:53AM
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Every time I start a portfolio the gov't takes a shift in my backyard.   
Oct 19, 2013 10:28AM
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My mother-in-law part of the greatest generation always paid herself first.

She was frugal, paid her taxes, kept out of legal troubles, bought a house,

and did not use it for equity.  We baby boomers could learn a lot from them.

RIP and God Bless....

Oct 19, 2013 11:51AM
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Why doesn't someone for a change do an article like this meant for the normal people who cannot put upwards of $17,000 a year away into a retirement account? For the people who live paycheck to paycheck.

It's this attitude (that everyone can do anything remotely like save $17,000 a year) that's creating an ever increasing divide between the wealthy and the poor in this country.

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I'm so tired of the saying assuming 8% annual growth.  How many are actually getting that?
Oct 19, 2013 9:39AM
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These are all good suggestions, but there comes a time when you just have to start.  If not, you won't have a retirement at all.  You will be working until you drop, literally.  Retirement is going to be upon you before you know it.  The years mount up fast.  What are you going to do if you get sick in your later years and can't work?  Retirement requires extensive and early planning.  Basically, reduce your debt and invest the rest.  Pay yourself first before you pay any bills.  It works because I have done it for the last 40 years and I'm still doing it today.
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