Don’t Freak Out! You Can Still Save for a Nice Retirement with a Low Income
Everyone wants to save money for retirement. The thought of being able to step away from the workforce one day is the only thing getting some people through the week. Unfortunately, life tends to get in the way. It’s one thing when you have a great paying job, where you can meet your needs and still have enough left over to put up a nice little nest egg for retirement. Better yet, just think about having a job that matches your 401k contributions. However, this is not everyone’s experience. In fact, it isn’t most people’s experience.
How do you save for retirement when you have a low income now?
Increase Your Income
This is something of a cheat, but if you can’t get a higher paying job, there are a wide variety of ways to increase your income even if you aren’t swimming in time.
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Keep Debt in Check
Bad debt is like an anchor around your neck that will keep you from amassing any sizable amount of money. There will likely be things you have to go into debt for. However, the more of them you have, the more money that will be leaving your account every month.
If you have managed to avoid debt so far, you are ahead of the game.
If you are in the midst of debt, climbing out is easier said than done. Here are some tips to help you start digging out of that hole.
- Triage: It’s usually not one debt alone that cripples someone, it’s many. Paying them all off at once is frankly unrealistic. You’ll need to focus your attention on the one causing you the most trouble. Important Note! This does not mean you should stop paying the minimum monthly balance on all of your other debts. It means you should choose one to pay over the minimum balance until you’ve paid it down; then you move on to the next. You should probably start with whichever has the highest interest rate as it will cost you the most over time.
- Get Frugal: You might be surprised how much you can save with a few lifestyle changes. If you haven’t tried aggressive couponing yet, you are missing out on potentially hundreds of dollars of savings. Ebates is a great place to find deals and get cash back on the items you were going to buy anyway. No fees, no forms, just savings and money back. You get your cash via check or through PayPal. Get $10 when you sign up today!
- Skip the Takeout: Is it delicious? Of course, it is. Is it worth it? To be blunt – If you’re reading this article, then probably not. To further salt the issue, groceries, in general, have even fallen in price. Conversely, restaurant prices have actually risen more than regular inflation would account for.
As difficult as it can be, sometimes you just have to take stock of the major expenses in your life and see if you can get any blood from the stone.
Housing is one of the biggest expenses a person can have. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to consider cutting down. Rent is usually less expensive than a mortgage. That’s not even mentioning property taxes and the like. Low Income Housing Assistance services can help you find a place to live that will allow you to recover financially and save for better days ahead.
They say, “driving is a privilege, not a right.” As condescending a platitude as that may be, unless absolutely necessary, a car can be a burdensome expense that you’re better off without. Upkeep, gas, parking, and licensing fees are just a few of the cost of car ownership. You may be better off with public transit.
Retirement Savings Contributions Credits
When people with low incomes file their taxes, they may qualify for the government to add 50% of that person’s retirement contributions up to $2000. Better still, you can collect retroactively back three years. While this isn’t going to take care of your retirement package all by itself, it can be a huge help to supplement your own contributions in a way that many lower-paying jobs do not provide.
Invest in Stocks
Your savings contributions are going to be a little bit at a time. Short of getting a higher paying job, there isn’t much you can do about that. You have to find a way to maximize those small contributions with higher rates of returns. Stocks are likely to be your best bet. The average annual rate of return is about 8% but you may be able to find one for 10%, you could considerably increase what you saved.
It must be noted that there is risk in stocks, though this ends up being a problem more in the short term than in the long. Moreover, if your stocks are unfortunate enough to take a hit, it A) Won’t directly affect your current finances and B) Will likely have time to be recouped before you retire. However, it’s still a risk.
Stay at It
The road to retirement is a long one for most people. It can feel even longer when you’re not making as much as you’d like to. Though your income is likely to improve somewhat even if you don’t switch jobs, you’re still looking at a nice long career. Don’t let this discourage you though! The internet brings about more ways of getting paid every day!