More than 30% of Americans say their new year's resolution for 2021 is related to their finances, according to a survey from personal finance site Finder.
Regardless of whether you have a resolution for the new year, getting your finances on track is never a bad idea. This is especially true if you're saving for retirement, because right now is the best time to start.
Even if you don't have much to save, there are still ways to maximize your savings. By starting with these three steps, you can save more all year long.
1. Set your retirement goal
It's tough to tell whether you're saving enough when you don't have a goal you're working toward. By setting a goal now, you'll have an idea of how much you'll need to save this year to keep your plans on track.
To set a goal, use a retirement calculator to estimate how much you need to save. Try to be as honest as possible with your inputs, too, including your desired retirement age and how much you expect to spend each year once you retire. You may not be able to determine these numbers with 100% accuracy, but putting some thought behind your estimates will result in a more accurate goal.
2. Get creative with your budget
The retirement calculator will likely give you an idea of how much you should save each month to reach your overarching savings goal by retirement age. From there, you'll need to figure out how to scrape together that much cash.
Budget cuts can be daunting, but they're not as scary as they may seem. First, make a list of all your monthly expenses. Next, cut all the costs that you know immediately are unnecessary, like a gym membership you haven't used in months or subscription services you forgot you were paying for.
The next step is to start cutting back on other nonessential costs like takeout or your morning coffee. You don't need to eliminate these entirely, because doing so could make these cuts unsustainable. But if you can make even small cutbacks consistently, you can save more each month.
3. Take advantage of all your resources
Saving is tough, but it can be a little easier when you take advantage of all the resources available to you. These can include:
- Matching 401(k) contributions: If your employer offers matching contributions, you can potentially double your savings with next to no effort. So if you have access to this 401(k) perk, it's wise to take full advantage of it.
- Automatic retirement fund contributions: When you set up automatic contributions, you're saving a set amount every week, month, or pay period. This can help you save more consistently, which will make it easier to build a healthier retirement fund.
- Catch-up contributions: If you're 50 or older, you can contribute an extra $6,500 per year to your 401(k) or an extra $1,000 to your IRA. By making the most of these contributions, you can supercharge your savings even if you're close to retirement.
There's never a wrong time to save more for retirement, but the new year is a great opportunity to set new goals and create healthy financial habits. By sticking to these strategies, you can save more in 2021 and keep your retirement plans on track.