Struggling to save enough for retirement seems to be just part of the human experience for the majority of Americans. Six in 10 say they're behind on savings and need to catch up, according to a recent TD Ameritrade survey. Most of them understand the importance of saving for their future and are willing to do what is necessary to ensure they have enough. But some are not.
One of the most troubling statistics to come out of the survey was that 13% of Americans are unwilling to make any concessions to store up their retirement savings. Many of these individuals said they're more interested in cutting their expenses in retirement than before they retire. This is a dangerous attitude that could cost them a lot more than they realize.
Why you need to be willing to make sacrifices for your retirement savings
Your retirement savings are going to keep a roof over your head and food on your table. They're also going to pay for your medical bills, clothing, and other essentials. You don't want to gamble that you won't have enough.
It might sound more appealing to put off cutting costs until retirement or to work longer so you don't have to save more now. But chances are, when you reach the age where you have to start making sacrifices, you'll wish you'd planned better when you were younger. A part-time job or slashing expenses might not be enough if you're way behind on retirement savings.
If you can't care for yourself, you'll have to fall back on government assistance or your children. Supporting you could prevent your children from providing for their own kids or saving for their retirement, so you'll pass your own misfortune on to future generations. But that doesn't have to happen if you're willing to make small changes today.
Easy ways to save more for retirement
Small lifestyle changes can make a big difference to your retirement savings if you're serious about sticking with them and putting the money into a retirement account. The TD Ameritrade survey suggests several concessions that people could make to free up more cash for retirement, including packing lunch, brewing coffee at home, cutting back on vacations, and using public transit whenever possible instead of driving your own vehicle.
More-drastic measures include limiting discretionary purchases and downsizing your home. It's worth considering if you're far behind on retirement savings.
An alternative to slashing your expenses is to look for ways to increase your income and then put those additional earnings toward your future. Extra jobs are becoming increasingly popular, and they don't always require a lot of work. If you own an extra property or have a spare room, you could rent it out for some easy cash. Just make sure to save a portion of your earnings for taxes. If you've had a side business in the past, your prior-year tax return should tell you how much you must pay quarterly this year to avoid penalties. Otherwise, you can fill out Form 1040-ES to estimate what you'll owe.
You could also work overtime at your regular job, pursue promotions, or switch employers or careers to increase your income. Always prioritize your retirement savings before increasing spending on other things.
Making sacrifices today for a benefit you won't even realize for years, possibly for decades, is tough for many. But those sacrifices don't always have to be large to make a difference. Try some of the above tips, and if you can't stay motivated to save, remember the bigger picture -- you'll be glad you did when you're finally ready to leave the workforce.