The time is now: Saving for retirement

Health care and Social Security are uncertain, so start planning today

Last month, we celebrated National Save for Retirement Week, a national effort to bring awareness to saving for retirement. As the population ages, there are many realities to be aware of such as the rising cost of health care, the uncertainty of Social Security and longer life expectancies.

Planning for your future is more important than ever, here are a few simple tips to help you get started:

Save more now – Rewarding ourselves every now and then is understandable. However, forgoing unnecessary expenses like a daily latte can really add up in savings. Consider setting up automatic payments to your savings account to ensure you are actively saving no matter the amount. Even if all you have is a little money to put away each month, that money can add up to a significant amount in the future. It’s also important to not spend more than you make.

Maximize retirement savings – If you have a retirement plan at work, always sign up for your employer contribution to save as much as possible for retirement. Some employers match at least a part, if not all, of their employees' retirement account contributions.

Consolidate your accounts – If you change jobs throughout your career, your retirement accounts may multiply. Unless there is a benefit to keeping money in a previous employer’s account, consider consolidating your accounts to make it easier to see what you have to work with as retirement approaches.

If possible, pay off debt early – Based on your budget and financial goals, determine how much additional money you can realistically put toward your debt each month. Don’t have extra income? Look for ways to cut back on monthly spending. However, don’t sacrifice other financial goals like a saving for your child’s college education or purchasing a home just to be debt free early. Assess thoroughly before making a decision.

Don’t withdraw early – There are penalties on funds that are withdrawn early. Avoid paying these fees by refraining from accessing your retirement account until you are at least 59 1/2 years old.

Being smart about your savings can make a positive difference and will allow you to can spend your retirement years closer to how you imagine them.

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