11 ways to step closer to the future you envision

If you’re concerned your retirement savings aren’t quite where they should be, you have plenty of company – about 30 percent of working Americans feel the same. But while boosting savings is the most important factor in ensuring a comfortable retirement, there are other changes you can make without straying from your financial plan. 

  1. Look At Expenses
    • Depending on your anticipated shortfall, this might mean anything from trimming daily expenses to really slashing them (e.g., delaying a new car purchase).
  2. Eliminate Credit Card Debt
    • Pay down high-interest debt as rapidly as possible, and construct a new household budget that makes retirement savings your top priority. 
  3. Save As Much As Possible
    • Try putting away at least 15 percent of your income, or setting a specific savings goal and getting there as quickly as possible. 
  4. Retire Later
    • The more time your investments have to grow, the bigger the ultimate payoff can be. Even a couple more years can make a big difference in how much you can put aside. 
  5. Revisit Your Asset Allocation
    • You may have to allocate more of your investments to equities if you’re behind. Historically, these have provided better long-term returns than bonds. Just be careful not to exceed your risk tolerance. 
  6. Maximize Social Security Benefits
    • Waiting as long as pos­sible to begin taking benefits makes sense for many, but Social Security is complicated. Fortunately, your advisor can guide you through different claiming strategies. 
  7. Retire Part-Time
    • If you or your spouse or partner can work part-time, you’ll boost your retirement cash flow and give yourself more time for savings to grow. 
  8. Retire Simpler
    • Many retirees find that living more simply is just fine. You’ll want to strike a balance here – don’t give up on your dreams, but try to make them a little more realistic. 
  9. Rethink Your Home Equity
    • Consider deploying your home equity to establish an emergency fund or meet other essential expenses. 
  10. Downsize For Simplicity
    • If you have more home than you need, consider downsizing and investing whatever you clear in an income-oriented account. 
  11. Maximize Tax Breaks
    • Once you’re 50, the amount you can contribute tax-free to retirement accounts increases. So, if you have a workplace retirement plan with an employer matching program, try making the maximum allowable contribution. Also, think about previous jobs – did you leave anything behind in a retirement plan?  


To Begin Boosting Your Savings: 

Discuss everything with your advisor, including how much you think you’ll need for the retirement you envision. He or she can help you determine what you need to get there, how to invest your money, how to account for inflation, and what to set aside for your potential healthcare costs. 

Ask your advisor to run the appropriate what-if scenarios. You may find your situation is brighter than you think. 


Sarah Santana is an independent columnist for Morro Bay Life. She is the president of Santana Wealth Management and you can contact her at sarah.santana@raymondjames.com.