6 Ways to Pile Up Money Before You Retire

Falling behind on your retirement savings? These simple habits can thicken your wallet in no time.

6 Ways to Pile Up Money Before You Retire Photo by ANN PATCHANAN / Shutterstock.com

Some people hope to retire early. Others expect to retire a bit later, while still others worry they’ll never be able to quit working.

Wherever you fall on this spectrum, chances are good that you would worry less if you could just save a little more. Fortunately, that’s possible if you’re willing to develop a few good habits. Following are six ways to pile up cash before you retire.

1. Make it automatic

Don’t wait until you have “extra money” — there’s no such thing. Find what you can save — even if it’s just a little — and get started. The single best thing you can do is automate: Have money automatically transferred from a paycheck or checking account into savings. Start with the max you think you can afford. If you guess wrong, you can always reduce the amount later.

Consider your retirement savings as an obligation, no different than any other bill. Because unless you plan on working until the day you die, that’s exactly what it is.

2. Spend less with a budget

A 25-year-old who sets aside just $12.50 a week — the equivalent of a meal out or a few coffees — and invests it with an 8 percent return will have more than $180,000 at 65.

What makes that number more incredible is that fact that you only have to invest $26,000 over four decades to turn it into more than $180,000. Where do you find extra money? Start by seeing where your money is going now. Track your expenses, then categorize them with a simple spending plan. Once you learn what you’re spending on, you’re likely to see places you can save a buck or two — divert that money to retirement savings.

For more tips on building a budget, check out “8 Secrets to Building a Budget That Works.

3. Destroy debt

Every dollar you pay in interest is a dollar that won’t be making your golden years golden. List your debts and choose one to focus on. When it’s gone, add the amount of those former payments to the next debt on your list. Find whatever extra money you can wherever you can and increase your debt payments — always pay more than the minimum.

Remember: Minimum payments are designed to benefit lenders, not you. Your credit card company doesn’t care when, how or if you retire. If you do create a debt, borrow as little as possible, and never for things that go down in value.

For more tips, check out “Resolutions 2018: Crush Your Debt in 3 Simple Steps.”

4. Explore 401(k)s and other retirement plans

If your employer offers a retirement plan, take a look, especially if the company matches your contributions — a rare opportunity to double your money for nothing. Your employer can take money straight out of your paycheck and put it aside. That will also lower your tax liability, because you won’t be taxed on the money in your plan until you take it out in retirement.

If your job doesn’t offer a retirement plan, create your own with an individual retirement account, or IRA.

5. Earn more on your savings

Keeping your money in low-yielding bank accounts is safe, but that protection comes at a price. If you set aside $200 a month for 40 years and earn 1 percent on it, you’ll end up with around $118,000. Earn 8 percent, however, and you’ll have closer to $700,000. Earn 12 percent, and it will swell to more than $2 million

Too many people are fixated on working hard for their money, rather than making their money work harder for them. How do you earn more than the measly interest available at the bank? Explore alternatives, from stocks to real estate.

6. Make more

What you make now influences what you can put away for later. In addition, Social Security benefits are related to lifetime earnings. So, making more today will mean bigger Social Security checks tomorrow.

No matter who you are, there are ways to make more money. That’s true even if you already are retired and want to make a few more dollars on the side. For more, check out “11 Overlooked Ways Retirees Can Make Money.”

How are you saving for retirement? Let us know in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Brandon Ballenger
Brandon Ballenger @btballenger
I'm a freelance journalist living in South Florida. If I'm not writing, I'm playing video games or at the beach. My favorite spice is oregano, and I thought you should know. I ... More

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