ll archives: Why My Retirement Savings is a Non-Negotiable
I often talk about how important saving for retirement is, and I believe that most people know how important it is, but I’m not sure that everyone actually takes that knowledge and applies it. Actually, I’m certain of this. According to a report by Financial Finesse, four out of five Americans aren’t prepared for retirement. Perhaps even more disheartening is the fact that my lady counterparts are even less prepared, with just 17% of women admitting that they were on track for retirement, compared to 26% of men. Laaadies?! Don’t worry, I’m not talking to you specifically, because you’re on top of your shit, right, girl? I’m talking to all of our sisters out there. Can we be real for a minute, ladies? Yes, let’s. I have not always made the best financial decisions. I mean, not. at. all. Who out there has paid for a vacation on a credit card? Surely I’m not the only one. But for all of my financial immaturity over the years, one thing that I’ve never faltered on was my retirement savings, and if you keep reading, I’ll tell you why and how. It is absolutely a non-negotiable, and although that may not be your mindset—or ability—today, I hope that after reading this article, perhaps you’ll start to rethink the importance of your retirement preparation.
Why does a 23-year old, with student loan debt, a car payment, living expenses, and virtually zero help from her parents, making only $25,000 a year tuck away 6% of her measly income? Well, the logical reason is because my company matched 50 cents on the dollar, up to 6%, and I was not about to lose out on that free money. But, when you’re literally living paycheck to paycheck, and missing out on all of the fun that young, single, 23-year old college graduates are supposed to be having, sometimes logic flies out the window, so that’s when I relied on my emotions.
Allow me to get a little personal. My wonderful, amazing grandfather is retired. In his working life, he made a pretty substantial income, and with very low living expenses back then, he should have been able to tuck away enough savings to live comfortably in his retirement, but he didn’t. Now that he is retired, all of his needs are met, but most of his wants are just not affordable. Ladies, living off of social security alone is not where it’s at. So even though it meant I had to skip some of the happy hours, brunches, and girls shopping trips, I decided way back then that setting aside money for my retirement held the same importance in my budget as rent and food—it was simply non-negotiable. Now that I’m a mother, it’s even more vital because I refuse to ever be a burden to my child(ren).
If you don’t have a reason to make this a priority yet, sit down, do some soul-searching, and find your reason.
Admittedly, saving for retirement is easy for me—now. It wasn’t always that way. It’s easy now because it’s become so habitual that I don’t even think about it. Automation is key, ladies. Once you get started and consistently do it, it will become so normal that you won’t think about it either.
Budget, budget, budget
I absolutely love the finer things in life. I love Smashbox makeup, Seven Jeans, and shopping at Nordstroms, but the only way that I can afford to do those things regularly is if I make cuts elsewhere, and that’s not something I’m willing to do. Even though my income has increased substantially, I still drive the same car I drove back when I was that naive 23-year old making $25,000, my mortgage is only $300 more than the rent at my first apartment, and I do not shop at Whole Foods (ahem, Whole Paycheck). All of my family’s needs are met, as well as most of our wants, but we live below our means. I’ve learned that half of the things you think you need is a total lie. Trust me, my 2-year old doesn’t even realize that the adorable, practically brand new Baby Gap outfit she’s wearing came from a children’s resale shop for 75% off the retail price.
We live in the electronic age where saving money is so easy you don’t even have to think about it. With a couple of clicks, you can set up automatic transfers to and from accounts with so much ease it’s almost laughable. Don’t think about saving—just do it. If all you can do is 1% of your monthly income, then start there. Automate it, work within your new budget, and reevaluate in 6 months. If you can comfortably start contributing more, then follow the same process.
I’ve made it a habit to increase my retirement contribution every time my income increases. If i get a 5% raise, my retirement contribution increases 1%. As a ladypreneur, your income may fluctuate month to month, but you can still make this a habit. Take a percentage of each new client account/payment, and automatically add it to your retirement savings. There are also useful tools like this retirement planner from Personal Capital that provide a fresh new way to manage your finances for free.
If you are not saving for retirement, or you’re undersaving, I hope you’ll gain a couple of takeaways today: it’s never too late to start saving, and something is better than nothing. Meet with a financial advisor, even if it’s just someone you trust who is financially savvy, and get started. Take an audit of your financial standing, create or revise your budget, and start saving. Your future self will thank you!
While we stand 100% behind our financial musings, don’t just take our word for it! Consult your personal financial advisor, tax professional, and/or lawyer prior to making any major financial decisions.