This is a quote from Yahoo Finance
Saving the right amount for retirement requires you to know how much cash you have right now so you can make smart decisions about how to spend or save that money. Without a budget, planning your retirement can be more challenging.
Do you agree?
Statements like the above drive me nuts as you may have noticed from the past. They have the process backwards. Saving always comes first and the right amount depends on your retirement goals.
If your income is $50,000, to be reasonably sure of sufficient retirement income start by saving and investing 15% so in reality your income is $42,500. That’s the gross amount that determines your lifestyle. Making the 15% pre-tax will increase your take home pay during early working years if necessary.
As you get closer to retirement make adjustments, factor in what you will receive from Social Security, start looking at the possible income needed in retirement to live as you desire.
Don’t invest only in qualified retirement accounts like 401k and IRAs . Open a brokerage account, start small, buy a few dividend paying stock, ETFs, bond funds. Reinvest all earnings and distributions you receive from investments.
If you are a two income family live and spend as close to one income as possible, certainly not more than one and a half incomes. Invest the rest.
The funny thing about all this advice is that it works – relatively- regardless if your income is five, six or seven figures. The single most important factor is not income, but spending. Think about it.
I disagree not everyone can save for retirement, because of the high cost of living. I know people who make $15,000 to $20,000 per year and by the time they pay just for their needs, there is nothing left. No eating out, no vacations, nothing extra.
I lived that way most of my life, never making more than $25,000 per year. My Social Security statement shows 27 year work history that I made $299,201 My average income during my working years was $11,081 per year. I raised four children and my wife did not work outside the home.
How did I do it? Said NO to the wife and kids many times. No car payments, buying only used cars, after saving up the cash, many of the cars cost me less than $3,000. Very hard to do today. I remember using the city bus for 22 months while I saved up $2,500 for a 1966 Mercedes in 2013. I have always done all the maintenance & repairs on every car I have owned. Same for the home repairs, electrical, plumbing, A/C and furnace repair. Even now at age 67, I do all the required maintenance on my 2020 Ford Edge. The last oil and filter change cost me $26, took me 30 minutes, Saved me $30, and I know it was done right, and I did not have to deal with the repair shop telling me I need a bunch of other services. Or worse damage something that would cost me more money later.
“The funny thing about all this advice is that it works – relatively- regardless if your income is five, six or seven figures. The single most important factor is not income, but spending.”
I understand if you save first, then you can’t spend that money. However, I believe more so in our now cashless society, that people do not know where they are spending their money. The only way some people realize that they are spending $100s at Starbucks is to write it down. Once you write it down and see where the money went can you decide where it NEEDS to go rather where you WANT it to go.
I refuse to have automatic debts for my bills. I want to know exactly how much my bills are each month. There is too much creep in the bills for the phone, cable, rate changes in the gas and electric and so on and this was before the current inflation. If your spending plan is to check your balance before you buy, that is a poor plan. Or even worse, you put it on a credit card to figure out how to pay for it later. Then before you know it, you can no longer afford to save because you are getting behind on your bills.
Budgets are not a bad thing. It controls spending unless you are the government. Spending is the the key and not spending what you don’t have.
How does a budget control spending?
First, you plan your budget for expenses of things you need even after if you save first. You buy only things that are budgeted. This limits impulse buying. When you spend too much, you are then out of money and you go into debt. If an minor deviation comes up that you didn’t plan for such as taking a trip to see a grandkid in a sport event, you have to figure out where you are going to rob from your budget to cover the expense. (You should have an emergency fund for emergencies).
I don’t know how you saw budgets from the top of the corporate world be we at the bottom saw what happen when our department ran out of money. The same lessons can be applied at home.
A budget also does not have to be inflexible either. You don’t need to say that you need $10 for a box of screws this month for repairs, but you know and from past experience that you’ll need $600 during the year for minor repairs around the house and that you could expect to spend up to $50 in during a normal month. This should not be part of your emergency fund because it is normal house maintenance.
The hardest budgeting issue now is dealing with inflation. You knew in the past that you could take the wife to dinner once a week. But due to inflation it seems like you are running out of money at the end of the month. Now you budget or figure out that you should only go out to dinner three times a month or you give up something else because the dinners are more important.
You are either budgeting your money and just refusing to use that word or you are winging it. I suspect that you know where you spend your month each month. It doesn’t have to be written down if you can keep track in your head. Even when if you save first, if you are winging it, then you are hoping instead that at the end of the month you still have money in your bank account. These are the people who go and get their Starbuck coffees and tattoos because don’t care what they spend.
Don’t buy things you don’t need or can’t afford. Quite the epiphany, right?
And time, give it time. It works.