‘Life is expensive, and I feel there’s no area for me to cut back on.’
‘I’m doing everything I can, but I get so discouraged feeling I am not saving enough’.
‘I feel like I probably am not saving enough, but its all I can save.’
These are common sentiments I hear regarding saving for retirement.
And why not? When you think about how big the goal is, it can feel self defeating.
It makes it tougher when you realize this is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The biggest disruption to the ability to retire is the 401(k).
Because the traditional retirement benefit from a company had been a defined benefit plan (aka pension), the burden of risk had been on the employer.
But the 401(k) wholly shifted the financial risk of a retirement account from the employer to the employee.
This puts all the burden on the employee to get it right regarding their retirement.
To not only save for retirement, but to save more. And more. And more.
It doesn’t help that in your 20s and 30s it can seem like such an opaque goal, and one that has so many competitors for the money due to the nature of this life phase: Getting started in one’s adult life.
Then the 40s hit, and you realize that you have to start taking the goal seriously.
And you say to yourself, ‘Wow, I wish I would have made this a priority earlier. I wish I would have started earlier.’
But, it is what it is. You are where you are now and there’s no use beating yourself up over it, or allowing someone else to beat you up over it.
So just start. Increase how much you are saving today. I could tell you the amount you should be saving, but it doesn’t matter as much as to just start saving more.
Once you get some momentum going, save more. It’ll become more over time, and a bigger percentage of your take home pay will go into retirement.
I promise you this will happen as long as you just start with the habit, and not focus on what you aren’t saving, but on what you are saving.
It’s your #1 priority to save for your retirement.
But it needs to be a goal that motivates, not discourages, you.
Figuring out how to do that starts by saving more than you already are.
To focus on increasing it each year.
This isn’t by any means intended to trivialize the importance of having a plan in place and knowing how much you need to save.
It is intended to convey that sometimes you just have to step back, be honest with yourself and realize, if it’s true, that you are doing the best you can.