How to Save for Retirement on a Limited Budget

Are you living day-to-day or from paycheck-to-paycheck?  If you are, you are not alone.  Many Americans are now finding themselves in a financial crunch.  At that same time, financial advisors are still encouraging Americans to save for retirement.  This is where you may feel hopeless.  There is, however, good news.  That good news is that there are still ways that you can save for retirement, even when experiencing financial problems right now.

The first step you should take depends on your age.  If you are between the ages of forty and fifty, you will want to closely examine your retirement goals.  This includes both your wants and your needs.  How much money do you need to retire?  To determine an amount, look at your living situation.  How much will it cost you to survive with the basic necessities, including food, shelter, health insurance, and transportation?  Next, examine your retirement goals or wants.  Do you want to start your own business?  Do you want to travel?  Is there are hobby you want to take up?  Examine the costs of those activities.

If you are between the ages of twenty and thirty, your retirement goals are still important.  Of course, you will want to sit down and determine how much money you need to retire, but this can also wait a few years.  If you are on a tight budget, it may first be a good idea to examine ways that you can save money for retirement.  As an important reminder, there will need to be a point in time when you will examine your retirement years and what you want to get out them.

As for how you can start saving money for retirement when living day-to-day, you will want to track your spending.  You should do so for at least a week.  You will want to record every single purchase that you make, including a small bag of chips or a cup of coffee.  At the end of your week, look at your spending list.  Circle all of the items that you can live without or make other arrangements for. 

Once you have a list of items that you can live without, it is time for you to take action.  This action involves cutting corners and eliminating unnecessary purchases.  The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to go without.  You can still save money by taking a few simple steps.  For example, instead of buying a cup of coffee on the way to work each morning, make your own at home.  If you are known for buying new clothes too often, consider shopping at a department store or a thrift store, as opposed to a high-end clothing store.  There are so many different ways for you to save money.

Now, saving money is great, but only if you put that money where it needs to go.  Do you have a 401(k) plan?  If so, start applying your saved money to that plan.  If you do not, open up an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).  There are other options that you have as well, such as a savings account at your local bank, stocks, and bonds.  Some of these methods can be risky; therefore, you will want to spread your money out.

As you can see, there are a number of ways that you can save for retirement, even when you are on a limited budget.  Whatever approach you take, be sure to stick to your plan.