Q. Robert, my wife and I are both turning 50 this year and have recently become empty nesters. We both enjoy our careers and would like to work another 20 years if possible, however we are concerned that we have been slack on saving money and are unsure of how to create a plan now that we are shifting into a different stage of life. Any tips? – Rich in Kernersville, NC
A. Rich, here are three general tips that I recommend to those who are looking to revitalize their retirement savings if they feel like they are behind on planning:
Tip #1: Create a financial strategy. Consider how much you will need to have saved by the day you retire, and then think through what you may need to change in your current saving and spending patterns to help you get there.
Tip #2: Make saving for retirement a top priority. Rearrange your budget to fit your new commitment to saving and stick to it. Consider eating out less, eliminating frivolous spending, and finding other ways to bring in additional income through freelance work or odd jobs.
Tip #3: Create a general savings account and pay yourself first. Individuals with a healthy savings account are better equipped to cope with emergencies and can potentially avoid dipping into savings earmarked for retirement. Set up an automatic deposit that goes to your savings account each payday before you make other payments or purchases. Do this until you have saved at least six months’ worth of expenses.
Q. Robert, I often hear you and other advisors on television talk about saving enough to retire, but my question is how much do I need to save? Is there a specific goal amount that I need to be reaching for? – Kathy in Kernersville, NC
A. Kathy, there is not a specific dollar amount that I tell people that they need for retirement; in fact, this can vary greatly between even the most similar of people. I would suggest that you speak with a financial advisor so that they can help create a plan for you, but in the meantime, here are a few things to consider when you are trying to figure out how much you need to retire:
- When do you plan to begin drawing Social Security benefits?
- Do you have multiple sources for retirement income?
- What is your strategy to pay for health and/or long-term care expenses if they continue to increase?
- How could inflation impact your retirement income?