Even if you’re nowhere near retirement age, saving for retirement should always be on your radar. After all, you want to enjoy your retirement the way you envision it ― without financial worry.
If you’re already saving toward retirement, you may be wondering, “What do I need to do to stay on track?” Maybe you have goals in mind, but you’re not entirely sure if you’re saving enough to achieve them.
If this sounds familiar, there are proactive steps you can take to stay on course. In this blog, we’ve put together some tips and advice from Minster Bank wealth advisors David Oliver and Nathan Cedarleaf on how to make a plan for your retirement and stay with it.
Tip #1 – Have a Plan
The first step to reaching your retirement goals is to have a plan. “Without a plan, you don’t have anything to track your financial goals against,” said Oliver.
In this context, having a plan isn’t necessarily the same thing as simply having a retirement account. Perhaps you started your first retirement account when you got your first professional job and started contributing a small amount of money in each paycheck without giving it much thought.
However, as you advance through your career, it’s important to evaluate just how much you’re saving and whether that amount is appropriate for when and how you want to retire.
According to Oliver, most corporate retirement plans have planning software that is available to all employees. This software can help you determine whether or not you’re on track with your retirement goals.
“A financial advisor can also be a huge help in the process,” said Oliver. “We can review your current assets and help devise a plan to help you reach your goals. A plan is only as good as it is understandable and achievable.”
Tip #2 – Automate Your Investments
According to Cedarleaf, automating your investments is likely the most important strategy in achieving your retirement savings goals over time. A corporate retirement plan can be useful in this regard, as you can often adjust the amount of your retirement contributions directly using the retirement software provided by your employer.
Cedarleaf suggests that everyone annually reassess how much they can save toward retirement. “Look for an opportunity to bump up your retirement savings by 1 percent, until you are saving around 15 percent of your pre-retirement income,” he said.
A wealth advisor can also be immensely helpful when it comes to automating your investments because they can manage your retirement portfolio and adjust your investments automatically based on your goals.
Tip #3 – Meet with a Financial Advisor Each Year (at Minimum)
Oliver said it’s best practice to meet with a financial advisor each year for a thorough review of how you’re progressing versus your retirement plan. You can also let your advisor know when you want to change or shift your goals as you get closer to retirement age.
“Your advisor should also be reviewing your insurance with you regularly,” he said. “Health, disability, life, home, auto, and umbrella can help protect a great plan from being completely derailed.”
In addition to meeting annually, there are also certain scenarios that may warrant reaching out to your advisor in a more timely manner, such as:
- • Marriage
- • Divorce
- • Death of a spouse
- • Birth of a child
- • Job or career change
Life changes such as these often require you to update your beneficiaries (those who receive your retirement savings if you pass away). In the case of leaving a job, Oliver advised, “Don’t wait to meet with your advisor until after you have left. There are often major decisions to be made prior to a job change or retirement.”
Tip #4 – If You’re Behind on Saving for Retirement, Use Budgeting to Catch Up
While many grow weary of the term “budget,” having a budget and sticking to it can put you on the road to a successful retirement.
“If you are behind, tracking your actual expenses can often be eye-opening,” said Cedarleaf. “One of the easiest ways to increase savings is to reduce spending on items that do not bring joy into our lives, other than saving.”
It’s important to view retirement savings as a fixed, non-negotiable item in your budget. Think about how you look at your monthly mortgage payment or car payment, as opposed to other types of spending categories like entertainment or monthly subscriptions. You can always choose to spend less on optional items like these, but simply not paying your mortgage isn’t an option.
Tip #5 – Let Your Financial Advisor be Your Expert
Wealth advisors ― like Oliver, Cedarleaf and their colleagues at Minster Bank ― can be your greatest allies when it comes to achieving your retirement goals. They’re informed about topics that can affect your retirement savings, such as taxes and new legislation, and they put that knowledge to good use as they manage your investments and keep you updated.
“Developing that plan, monitoring your progress, and keeping up with changing opportunities and regulations are the biggest duties of a wealth advisor,” said Oliver. “We also help take the emotions out of investing and can help shield you from some of the day-to-day noise in the markets.”