We're all hoping for a comfortable retirement, and many of us have been diligently saving and investing for that, too. You may be able to enjoy an even better retirement, though, if you put the following tips and tricks to work for you.
Set your savings on automatic
Selena Maranjian: A very effective way to save for retirement is to automate as much of your savings as possible. This prevents counterproductive emotions and habits -- fear, greed, procrastination, and so on -- from getting in your way.
A great place to start is with your 401(k) or 403(b) plan at work. You can have your employer automatically sock away a set percentage of your pay in your retirement account before you ever get your hands on the money. That not only ensures that it gets saved and not spent, but it also delivers a tax benefit. If your 401(k) plan is the traditional kind, you can deduct your contributions from your taxable income, thereby reducing your tax hit. If it's a Roth variety, you fund it with taxed dollars, but then ultimately get to withdraw the money in retirement tax free.
Be sure to contribute at least enough to grab all the available matching funds your employer offers -- but that's typically a low hurdle. For 2016 and 2017, you can contribute as much as $18,000 to your 401(k) or 403(b) -- plus an additional $6,000 if you're 50 or older. Saving 15% or more of your income is typically a good idea. If that seems like too much, start lower, but aim to increase the percentage regularly.
You may also be able to automatically have funds regularly invested in your IRA. Check with your brokerage and/or bank to see what automated options exist. Check with your employer's payroll department, too, as you may be able to have funds automatically and regularly transferred not only into a company-sponsored retirement plan, but also into other accounts, such as IRAs.
Consider working part time
Brian Feroldi: One of the best retirement tricks out there is to take on a part-time job. There's no doubt that this idea will sound unappealing to many, but perhaps they will change their minds once they realize all of the benefits that come from keeping one foot in the workforce.
For starters, a part-time job will help you afford a more comfortable retirement. Earning as little as a few hundred dollars a month can go a long way toward helping to pay the bills. That extra money will also reduce a retiree's dependency on a nest egg, which lowers the risk of exhausting funds early.
Looking beyond the financial gains, studies show that continuing to work can actually have a positive impact on health, as well. The Institute of Economic Affairs found that retirees who stop working altogether face higher risks of developing a physical disorder, or depression, when compared to those who stay in the workforce. These findings make sense when you realize that working helps you to stay active and provides a regular social outlet, too.
Best of all, retirement can be a great time to explore a fun new career. Love to fix things? Advertise yourself as a local handyman. Have a spare bedroom? Try renting it out on Airbnb. Are you a history buff? Offer to become a local tour guide. Like sports? Perhaps your local team has a role that you could fill.
Add it all up and there are plenty of reasons to consider working part time in your golden years.
Find your "enough"
Brian Stoffel: I've written about this so much that I feel like a broken record, but I simply think there's nothing more important to your financial (and non-financial) life than figuring out your level of "enough."
By this I mean consciously taking time to figure out which material comforts are really important for your own contentment, and which are just fluff. After years of researching the psychology of happiness, I'm convinced that the four most important contributors to contentment are (1) your health (physical and mental), (2) relationships, (3) meaningful work, and (4) purpose as provided by a belief system or philosophy of life.
There are certainly ways that our finances can contribute to these four areas, but most of the heavy lifting has little to do with consuming, and a whole lot to do with creating.
That's what my wife and I discovered. In our previous jobs, we worked ourselves to the bone, spent a large sum of money on conveniences without even thinking about it, and eventually wore ourselves down. Over the past seven years, we've switched lines of work, and cut our income by more than 50%. But we are far happier and are actually putting away about the same amount of money -- percentage wise -- than we were before.
This reveals the huge benefit to finding your level of "enough." It not only frees up more money for your nest egg, but it reduces the amount you'll need in order to be financially independent. It shortens the gap between now and total independence from both sides -- earning and spending. There aren't many better tricks than that.