June 29, 2020

It’s not what you save, but how you manage money, writes Catherine Brock

Is there some sort of magic solution that will help us gear up for our eventual retirement?

Writing for the Magic Valley blog, Catherine Brock says you don’t necessarily need magic. She sees four specific things that you need to have locked down before entering life after work.

First, she writes, you need to be able to “budget confidently.”

“Budgeting doesn’t mean you know generally how much you spend each month. It means you know exactly how much you spend,” she explains. This will force you to live within your means, and if you want to buy something that’s over your budget, you will have to save up for it, Brock notes.

The next thing is to have “control over spending.”

Once you are following a budget, you can focus on your spending, and if you can save a few dollars, those savings are real. “You’ll probably find that focusing on your spending naturally creates savings by eliminating mindless purchases. And then you can get creative, cut back, price shop, and even freeze spending temporarily to uncover additional savings,” she explains.

An emergency fund is a third “must” for retirement readiness, Brock writes.

“Experts recommend keeping at least three months of living expenses on hand in a cash account. Heading into retirement, it’s a good idea to target more than that, say six or 12 months of expenses,” she points out. Without an emergency fund, you’ll need to tap into your retirement savings for your emergencies, a losing strategy that can cause trouble later, Brock notes.

The last category is a big one – eliminating revolving debt.

She says that if you are on course for the first three categories, then getting rid of debt should be your focus. A good approach is, after you have paid off one debt (credit card or line of credit), to use the money you were paying on it to help target the next one. Repeat the strategy until you are debt free, she advises.

She concludes by saying that mastering these four skills is as important as what the balance is in your retirement savings account. In plainer terms, it’s not what you save, it’s how you manage it that wins the retirement race.

If you haven’t heard how the Saskatchewan Pension Plan can help grow your retirement savings, you should check them out today. This professionally managed open defined contribution plan can invest your contributions, grow them over time, and convert them to a lifetime income stream when you turn in your ID badge at work.

SPP is especially helpful if you don’t have a pension plan at work – if you work part-time, casual, or via the so-called gig economy, you can contribute at a rate that works for you. You can turn SPP into your own personal retirement savings system.

Written by Martin Biefer
Martin Biefer is Senior Pension Writer at Avery & Kerr Communications in Nepean, Ontario. A veteran reporter, editor and pension communicator, he’s now a freelancer. Interests include golf, line dancing, classic rock, and darts. You can follow him on Twitter – his handle is @AveryKerr22

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