5 Invisible Ways to Save for Retirement

Posted on November 21, 2012 at 5:30 pm

(US News) It’s hard to save money. It takes discipline, foresight, and self-sacrifice. Plus, it helps if you take home a nice big paycheck, which most of us don’t have the luxury of doing. By the time you’ve paid your mortgage and utility bills, your taxes and credit card bill, and bought some gas and groceries, there’s usually nothing left.

So how is a mere mortal supposed to save for retirement? We know we all have to do it, because Social Security is shaky and pensions are fading away. The only way for most people to accomplish the goal is to arrange their finances so the whole process is invisible. Behind the scenes. So you never see it, never miss it, and most importantly never spend it.

Here are five ways to save for retirement—ways you don’t see, so you don’t feel the pain.

1. Sign up for your company plan. This one’s a no-brainer. If your company offers a 401(k) plan or other retirement system, sign up as soon as you’re hired. Don’t wait until after you’ve paid your first month’s rent or put a down payment on a car. Do it now, before you get used to having that extra money in your paycheck. The idea is to skim off the top, so you never miss it. Meanwhile, check to see if your company matches your contributions. You don’t want to miss out on any free money.

2. Don’t leave anything behind. This almost happened to me. I had a job back in the 1970s, when I was in my 20s and the word retirement wasn’t in my vocabulary. But recently I was talking to an old friend. He asked me what I’d done with that old retirement plan. I’d completely forgotten about it. I called up the human resources department, thinking they wouldn’t even know who I am after all these years. But sure enough, I was on their books, with a balance of about $4,500. Not a lot. But every bit helps. I had them move the money directly into my IRA account, without passing through my own greedy hands. So if you have any old employers, check with them and make sure you’re collecting all the old retirement credits you may have earned 20 or 30 years ago. CONTINUE READING

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