Updated: Feb 28
Building your savings early in your career and throughout your working years can have a powerful effect on your quality of life in retirement. The longer you save, the more time your contributions have to grow.
You likely know that the benefits of putting away money in an account with tax-deferred compounding can make a significant difference in how you live later on. Thanks to the value of compounding, every dollar you save has the potential to produce earnings—and those earnings can produce earnings of their own, and so on and so on. Even Albert Einstein is said to have referred to compounding as “the most powerful force in the universe.” Another major reason to save: preparing for the unexpected. Many people retire earlier than they’d planned, and many aren’t financially ready for that step. Despite your best plans for the future, keep in mind that unanticipated events, such as health issues, layoffs or the need to care for a family member, could derail the retirement—and the savings—you have envisioned.
If your years of working and earning are cut short, you may find it difficult to replace the income you’d counted on saving before retirement. To better prepare for retirement, start putting away money as early as you can, and consider adding a guaranteed source of income, such as an annuity, to your retirement savings plan.
One simple way to build your savings early on and throughout your career is to save your raises. When you receive a raise, resist the temptation to funnel your extra cash toward discretionary spending. By putting that new chunk of income directly into your retirement savings, your funds will grow much more quickly—without any cuts to your current spending. In the event that your savings period is cut short, here are some options.
Downsize to save. Downsizing to a more affordable house can make a big difference in your spending: You’ll likely save on mortgage and insurance costs, as well as reduced utilities and maintenance costs. What’s more, a smaller home may be more manageable as you get older.
Cut your cost of living. Moving to a more affordable area can cut your expenses by reducing your overall cost of living. In addition to lower housing prices, you may be able to cut costs for other essentials, such as groceries, utilities, and car and homeowner’s insurance.
Work part time in retirement. If retirement comes earlier than you’d expected or you reach retirement without enough savings, consider taking on a part-time job. Those paychecks could mean you’re able to continue contributing to tax-advantaged retirement funds and potentially delay dipping into your savings. Your retirement accounts can benefit from continued exposure to potential growth, and your nest egg will be better off in the long run. It’s impossible to predict the curve-balls that life may throw at you, but saving early and planning ahead can help you navigate those changes smoothly and steadily.