- Traditional Pension Plans
- Talk With Your Employer
- Ask About Plan Features
- Self Employed
- Company Doesn't Offer a Plan
- Company Doesn't Offer a Match
- Employer Matching
- Catch-up Contributions
- Automatic Enrollment and Increases
- Your Plan in a Volatile Market
- Feed Your Retirement Plan
- Understand the Market
- Review Your Retirement Plan
Even in tough times, don’t forget to feed your retirement plan
When the economy is clicking along at a healthy pace, being frugal is still pretty smart. After all, who wants to fritter away a hard-earned paycheck, even in good times?
But in today’s tough economic environment, belt-tightening and budgeting can become a necessity.
Yet, paying more attention to what – and how – you spend doesn’t have to drastically alter your living standard or cut into your retirement plan savings.
Consider these 12 dollar-stretching ideas:
- Check into raising the deductibles on your auto and homeowner’s insurance policies. Boosting your car insurance deductible from $250 to $1,000, for example, may save as much as $100 a year.
- Clip and use coupons for groceries and other purchases and shop at stores that double and triple their values. Organize coupons in a grab-and-go filing system for convenience.
- Invest with a few friends in one of the discount entertainment books found in many cities. Trade the discounts and coupons you won't use with friends who will.
- Choose credit cards that offer rewards programs or rebates that fit your spending habits. Also, look for cards without annual fees and avoid ATMs that charge you for using them.
- Think resale and consignment for clothing and household items. Buy gently used items you need for pennies on the dollar, and pick up a few bucks selling the clutter from your attic, closet and garage.
- Check into buying and selling on Internet auction sites. Be sure to evaluate the time spent online with your actual dollars-and-cents earnings to make sure it’s worthwhile.
- Take a hard look at your cable, cell phone and Internet bills. Are there features you’re not using or could live without? Can you bundle services for more savings?
- Consider driving your car an extra year before trading it in, especially if it’s paid off (and in good condition). Imagine no car payment for a year!
- Keep tires properly inflated for better fuel efficiency, buy gas midweek (it’s usually cheaper than on weekends), learn to change your own oil and consider carpooling.
- Buy in bulk. Run the numbers on buying lots of basics for your family, such as ground beef, pasta or rice, and portion them out. You may find the strategy saves over buying in smaller quantities during weekly trips to the grocery store.
- When a big sale hits on items your family uses often, stock up. Buy enough to last until the next sale.
- Pack your lunch a few times a week. Dining out five days straight can gobble up your budget. That goes for soda, too. You’d be surprised how much you can save by avoiding the office vending machine.
Know where your money is going
In uncertain times like these, it’s important to know where your money is going. A budget can help you be sure it’s being spent on the things that are important – not only your living expenses today, but your retirement savings for all the tomorrows to come.
You should find these worksheets useful in tracking and planning your budget.
- Spending Plan (PDF) Yes, this is budgeting, but don’t get stressed out. A good budget shows how you spend your money and how much you have left over for the things that are most important to you.
- Monthly Expense Tracking (PDF) Using this sheet helps you track where all your money actually goes each month. It’s set up just like the Spending Plan, so it’s easy to compare what you actually spend against your plan.
Want additional information?
Learn more about this and other financial issues on the Investments Resource Center website. Or talk with your employer, retirement plan administrator or investment professional.
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