3 Ways to Do Retirement Planning the Right Way

Retirement planning can sound so ominous, sort of like preparing for death. However, it’s something we all need to look at regardless of the type of retirement we want – whether that be early retirement or a more traditional retirement scenario.

The last time I checked, working until you drop as a Wal-Mart greeter is not a good retirement plan. With that being the case, saving for retirement is something that needs to be looked seriously in order to stay on a path that leads to happiness. The problem is many don’t even know what that path is. The great thing about planning for retirement the right way is that most, if not all of it, are basic tenets that are easy to follow. It is my belief that even those who know little about investing in the stock market can follow these simple steps to get started on the right foot.

Kill Your Investing Fees

One of the things that always drove me nuts when I spoke with investors was when I saw them allow fees to bite a massive chunk out of their retirement portfolios. This came in two main forms. The first was through investing in mutual funds. Mutual funds aren’t bad, per se, but many of them can be rife with fees. When you invest in a mutual fund and let it ride, without paying any attention to them, those fees can add up to tens of thousands of dollars. If this is you, consider looking at comparable low cost index funds to save yourself money.

The second was through over active trading. If you want to actively trade, that’s fine, but make sure you’re keeping watch over those fees. Maybe it means you cut down on your trading, or negotiate a lower commission. If you’re a good enough client many brokers will lower your commission fairly quickly. The point is that fees can be a significant drag on your retirement portfolio. Find ways to cut them down and you’ll be much better prepared in the long run.

Start as Soon As You Can

I know this sounds like a no brainer, but start your retirement planning as soon as you can in your career. Far too many individuals, myself included once, allow excuses to hold them back. Whether it be fear, lack of funds, etc. none of these are reasons to hold you back.

What is often overlooked is that time is a huge component to retirement planning. Time is what helps your money grow, plain and simple. More often than not, your company sponsored 401(k) is the best place to get started – especially if they offer a match.

Invest More

Like the time issue above, putting aside more for retirement is another no brainer. Unfortunately, very few do it. There are many ways to invest more; you just have to know where to look. One option could be to cut back spending in one area of your life and defer that savings to your retirement planning. You can also do something like start a weekly or monthly saving goal that is funneled directly to your IRA.

One of my favorite ways to save more for retirement is through your 401(k). Many 401(k) providers allow you to set annual increases to your contributions. You select a given date each year and they increase your contribution by a given percentage that you determine. A very similar thing can be done when you get a raise, by increasing the amount you’re putting away so you don’t spend it all.

 

What are some other ways to do retirement planning the right way? What excuses have you seen or heard to delay saving for retirement?

 

Photo courtesy of: 401kcalculator.org

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About John S

John Schmoll is the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. He's passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally.

Comments

  1. We have been doing our best to max out our 401K, IRAs, and normal investment accounts to try and become financially independent as quickly as we can. I think the hard work is starting to pay off as our retirement accounts continue to grow. We’ve been following the approach of “invest more” as you suggest.

  2. I agree with starting just as soon as you can. The most powerful force in investing is time! Getting started just a couple of years earlier can make a huge difference when you get ready to retire.

  3. Hard truth time… the most common reason people delay retirement planning is simply because they are lazy and can’t be bothered to do anything about it! Other than that, a typical excuse I hear time and again is “I’ll die before I reach retirement age so don’t need to do anything about it”.

  4. The best advice I’ve received is pay yourself first. It came from David Bach’s Automatic Millionaire, which I was given shortly after graduating college. I was able to see the importance of starting early and the miracle of compound interest. I’m in my mid 30s and it blows my mind when I hear people my age blow off saving for retirement. Sacrifice some now, so that you don’t end up a walmart greeter at 65 when no one else will hire you!

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