Practical and Painless Ways to Save for Retirement

By Noah Henry  •  August 06, 2013

According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a third of Americans aged 55+ have saved less than $10,000 for retirement. Managing credit card debit, student loans, and mortgage payments may impede you from reaching your retirement savings goals, but there are always ways to cut back on spending. Remember—it’s never too early or too late to make small choices that will steadily boost your retirement fund.

HOUSING: Don’t Wait for Superman

The value of homes have been declining for some time, and while people remain in waiting for a rebound of the housing market, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Moving to a smaller home can save you thousands in insurance, taxes, and utility costs. You may think there’s a negative connotation to downsizing, but when it comes to the health of your retirement fund, it’s more apt to consider it rightsizing. And when you think about the costs of maintenance being 1 to 3 percent of a home’s value (a $600,000 home could cost you an additionally $18,000 annually, according to Freddie Mac), moving to a smaller home can significantly shrink your expenses (a $250,000 home will cost you $7,500 in yearly maintenance costs). By browsing for lower-cost housing through sites like Trulia you can figure out better alternatives.

401(k): How Much Are You Contributing?

Forbes called it “the greatest retirement crisis in American history.” In 2010, 75 percent of Americans nearing retirement age had less than $30,000 saved for retirement. One of the biggest threats to retirement security is skimping out on your monthly 401(k) contribution. The average employee contributes only 6 to 8 percent. Considering Forbes’ statement, you should definitely contribute more. As you move through your career, it’s best to keep your monthly cash-surrender in double digits—10 to 12 percent. Many companies default to a 3 percent pay deferral, but according to Stuart Ritter, financial planner and Vice President of T. Rowe Price Investment Services, says “saving 3 percent in a retirement account is like going to the gym for six minutes.” It gets your pulse pumping, but it yields no significant results.

PLANS: Review and Research

Does your smartphone usage match your data plan? Have you thoroughly researched for auto insurance? Every little bit counts. Researching how these plans affect your budget is vital to building your piggy bank. These monthly expenditures truly add up over time, and years down the line, they can be the difference between secure retirement and uncertainty. The small things really do matter.

ORGANIZE: Know Your Finances

Do you know your money like the back of your hand? Products like Quicken financial software can help you keep a closer eye on how you’re spending. Having your finances in a database will clarify and give you a keener sense on where to cut back. Organization is key.


With retirement concerns circulating in your mind, the term discretionary income may redefine itself. Even the essentials—food, shelter, transportation—can be less of a burden by way of couponing. Always look out for a better deal. can be your portal into a heftier retirement account. Every time you spend you can know you saved a bit more by taking advantage of discounts when you find them.

Noah Henry Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!

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