For all too many of us, saving for retirement is like flossing twice a day and eating leafy green vegetables -- something that probably won't get done if we have to think very much about it.
When you can spend your money on, say, fancy new electronics gear or dinners out at your favorite eatery, where's the fun in sending your hard-earned moola off to a boring old brokerage account?
The solution? Well, with all due apologies to Nike, I'd encourage you not to think about saving for retirement and instead just do it. And one of the best ways to "just do it" is to put your investing on autopilot.
Lose control now ...
You may already do this at work with your 401(k) contributions, which come directly out of your paycheck before it hits your bank account. That's convenient, of course -- particularly if your company's plan provides a matching incentive.
However, 401(k)s are hardly the only way to auto-invest. Dividend reinvestment plans (DRPs) are a compelling option, with such top-notch companies as Coca-Cola
Fund companies are more than happy to reinvest distributions for you, too, and these days, many will even lower their initial investment minimums if you agree to have a regular sum deducted from your bank account and sent to them each month.
Systematic savers, for instance, can snag quite a deal from the T. Rowe Price fund complex, which lowers the initial investment minimum for many of its funds to just $50, T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth (TRBCX) included. Between July 1993 and the close of 2005, this fine fund -- whose portfolio recently included such discounted big boys as American International Group
... to gain control later
Savings, of course, are the key to retiring well, and making money on those savings is always the best option. That way, after all, lies a comfy retirement.
That said, as sound in theory as going the automatic route certainly is, your chances of success with this strategy are obviously only as strong as the investment choices you make. The Fool offers a plethora of services to help you make those decisions, and tonight we'll provide another when my colleague Dayana Yochim and I chat live with Motley Fool co-founders Tom and David Gardner during the Fool's first-ever "teleseminar."
During the call, the Gardners will field questions about buying and selling stocks from folks who have posted to our Master Your Money blog, and while registration for the live event has closed, never fear. We'll be happy to send you a completely free podcast of the call -- an audio file suitable for playing back during your morning commute or your evening jog.
Yes -- just like, not coincidentally, putting your retirement savings on autopilot. Indeed, click here and our podcast will hit your inbox just as soon as it's ready for action.
This article was originally published on March 3, 2006. It has been updated.
Shannon Zimmerman is the lead analyst for the Fool's Champion Funds newsletter service. He doesn't own any of the companies mentioned. Coca-Cola is an Inside Value recommendation. Johnson & Johnson is an Income Investor pick. The Fool has a strictdisclosure policy.