retirementWe’ve wrapped up another year, and for many of us, January kicks off with full hearts and empty wallets. As we sit and ponder our spending habits, ask yourself: What gift did you give yourself this year? Consider giving yourself a worry-free retirement by focusing on how you can start and grow your savings today. A simple savings plan today can develop into a healthy retirement investment plan tomorrow by following a few simple guidelines. There is no need for complicated spreadsheets—common sense, discipline and a couple keystrokes, and you’ll discover what you can do today to relieve stress into your retirement years.

Start Now

The sooner you begin, the less impact this will have on your wallet. If you haven’t started yet, don’t fret. Focusing on what you haven’t done won’t help. Make the decision to start now and do it. Use a financial calculator to determine the financial impact your decision to begin saving now can have on your financial future. Consider saving 10 percent of your monthly income. An annual salary of $30,000 calculates to a monthly savings deposit of $250. That is a $62.50 weekly deposit into a savings account.

Set Achievable Goals

Start by determining your goal. Understanding your financial needs 30 or 40 years from now can be discouraging, especially when there are many factors to contemplate: marriage, mortgage, kids. Start with a monthly savings goal and build from there. If your annual salary is $30,000, save 10% annually (or $3,000) by making a monthly deposit into a tax-deferred retirement account of $250 for the next 10 years. Your monthly deposits, if earning an 8 percent return, can grow to more than $40,000 in 10 years. Continue that savings habit for the next 25 years, and you’ll be sitting on a savings account worth almost $500,000.

Award Yourself a Bonus

Anxiously awaiting that commission check or annual bonus? This is a great opportunity to give your savings a boost. You have earned that bonus, but you’ll thank yourself for putting some of that aside for your later years. Target to put half of your bonus into a tax-deferred savings account, and you’ll reap the benefits of the bonus a second time.

If you receive regular structured settlement payments, are you disciplined enough to deposit those payments directly into a savings account—or are they lost each month in your monthly expenses? Here is your opportunity to give yourself a gift. You can sell your future structured settlement payments to J.G. Wentworth or a similar company, where they can convert those monthly payments into a lump sum payment now. You can then use this money to begin or boost your retirement investment.

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By: Frank Stein
Frank is a financial planner and avid Mets fan from New York.

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