Struggling to Fund Your IRA? 3 Expenses You May Want to Cut

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  • Your IRA isn't going to fund itself.
  • If you're having trouble allocating money for retirement savings, you may need to rethink your discretionary spending.

Contributing to a retirement plan could require some sacrifices -- but it's worth it.

Saving for retirement is something it definitely pays to prioritize from a young age. The more time you give your money to grow, the more wealth you're apt to bring with you into your senior years. And to be clear, you'll need money outside of Social Security to pay your bills when you're older, so getting into the habit of making IRA contributions is important.

If you've been struggling to find money to put into your IRA, you're no doubt in good company. Prioritizing IRA contributions can be a tough thing to do in general, but it can be especially tricky at a time when living costs are up across the board due to inflation.

But remember, unlike 401(k)s, which employers often contribute money to in the form of matching dollars, IRAs are completely self-funded. That means it's on you to find a way to make those contributions happen. And doing so could boil down to cutting back on these specific discretionary expenses.

1. Restaurant meals and takeout

You need to eat in order to function -- there's no arguing that. But while groceries easily qualify as an essential expense, restaurant meals don't.

Now, if you're doing just fine on the IRA contribution front, then by all means, continue to dine out or pick up dinner on your way home after a busy day. But if you can't remember the last time you managed to put money into your IRA at the end of the month, then it may be time to cut back on restaurant meals since you can feed yourself for a lot less money by cooking at home.

2. Cable

Cable may be a nice thing to have. But in an age where there are so many low-cost streaming services to fall back on as an alternative, it's an expense that's getting harder to justify. And so if you've been struggling with IRA contributions, you may find that cable is a reasonable expense to slash -- especially if you can replace it with a couple of streaming services that cost 80% less but offer content you're just as happy with.

3. Travel

Traveling can be an eye-opening experience -- one that's good for the mind and soul. But if you've been neglecting your IRA, then it may be time to scale back on travel and put your long-term savings first.

Besides, there are steps you can take to travel more cheaply. Instead of hitting far-off destinations, jump in your car and find a park or hiking trail you've never discovered before. You may find that it's a rewarding experience in its own right -- and one that costs a lot less money.

Don't neglect your IRA

It's easy to see why IRA contributions might fall by the wayside when you have other bills to pay and other expenses you want to prioritize. But if you neglect your IRA during your working years, you might end up cash-strapped and miserable during your senior years. Rather than run that risk, make an effort to fund your IRA consistently -- even if it means having to give up some of the things you enjoy until your income rises.

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