It may not surprise you to know that a large majority of Americans are unprepared for retirement. After all, many of us don’t feel any urgency surrounding our retirement until it’s right around the corner. However, according to the Federal Reserve’s “Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2017 – May 2018,” “even among non-retirees in their 50s and 60s, one in eight lacks any retirement savings and less than half think their retirement savings are on track.”*
While we may all acknowledge the importance of saving for the future, it’s the question of when that’s often ignored. The responsibilities of everyday life keep us occupied, until one day we’re struck by the frightening question: Have I waited too long?
First things first: no matter your age or ambitions, it’s never too late to save for retirement. But by that same token, it’s also never too early. So, if you truly want a comfortable retirement, the time to prepare is now. To help you get started, we have developed a list of five simple steps you can implement to save today and better prepare for tomorrow.
- Evaluate your priorities.
What kind of retirement do you envision for yourself? A comfortable house in the countryside? Frequent travel? Missions work? Your unique goals for the future will help determine your lifestyle today, so take some time to consider the type of retirement you hope to have. How much will your home, condo, or RV cost? Will you need to afford airfare for consistent visits to grandchildren and/or other destinations? What about the cost of healthcare? Identify your priorities and calculate the monthly or annual cost required to support them.
- Live below your means.
In many ways, saving for the future can be like dieting. If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to modify the way you eat, exercise, and live. Little changes lead to lifestyle changes. Similarly, if you want to effectively save money, you must go beyond budgeting and develop new habits. It may mean eating out less or searching for sales. Maybe it will require something more drastic, like downsizing your home and belongings. No matter how you choose to modify your life, remember those small adjustments can make a substantial impact.
- Practice restraint.
Once you’ve determined your priorities and the changes needed to attain them, a more challenging exercise comes next—saying “no.” As you plan your next vacation, practice restraint. When you want to take your family out for dinner, consider cooking at home instead. And as you train yourself to decline immediate gratification, remember you may need to say “no” to people as well. It is certainly generous to loan or even give money to friends and family in need, but never when such an action risks your own financial health.
- Lock your money away.
Turning down an impulse buy or an ice cream outing with the grandkids can be especially challenging for some, so another way to protect your money is by limiting your access to those funds. Consider placing some of your income each month in an account that penalizes early withdrawals. You can even set up an electronic funds transfer (EFT) to simplify this step further. Create a habit of first paying yourself by placing a predetermined amount in your retirement account, and then only spending what you have left.
- Be intentional and prayerful.
Lastly, as you commit to new practices, remember they require persistence and prayer. Lifestyle changes are challenging, so on the days you’re struggling to stick to your budget, take a moment to pray for patience and perseverance. These adjustments take time, but eventually they will turn to habits, and you’ll look back on those difficult decisions with gratitude.
Save for tomorrow today!
Although it’s never too late to prepare for retirement, there’s no better time than now, and we would love to help you get started! Church Extension Plan (CEP) offers fixed rate investment notes and Traditional and Roth IRAs for individuals and organizations, as well as a 403(b) Retirement Plan for ministers and ministry staff. Not only will our services help you set aside a little at a time, but when you place your funds with CEP they will also be used to support the growth of Assemblies of God ministries!
To open your CEP retirement account, call 800-821-1112, email email@example.com or return the card at the end of this magazine.