Saving For Retirement At 50? Use These 23 Smart Strategies To Get On Track

Dollar bills planted in dirt, representing saving for retirement at 50

It’s not too late to save for retirement at 50

Do not save what is left after spending; instead, spend what is left after saving.”  -Warren Buffett

Wise words from a rich man.  And yet, most Americans in their 50s have only a fraction of what they need in their retirement accounts.  It’s scary to think of the long-term consequences this could have on future generations!

That’s why I’m so glad you’re here.  You may have some financial mistakes in your past, but you’re trying to improve your future.  You don’t want to be part of the majority that will have to depend on social security, the generosity of their kids, and a part-time job at Walmart to carry them through.  You want better, and you’re willing to make the sacrifices to get there.

Whether you’re just starting to put money away for retirement, or life has thrown you some curveballs and your savings is not where you want it to be, there are steps you can take to help you get on track.  You can start saving for retirement at 50 and still reach your financial goals – you’ll just need to make a few adjustments.

Remember – if you want a different outcome, you have to start doing different things.  Nobody is saying this is easy, but I am saying you have a choice.  I hope some of these ideas inspire you to choose the path to a better, richer, and more secure retirement.

Here are 23 strategies to start saving for retirement at 50.

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#1  Start today

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  It’s never too late to change direction, but the best time to start is now.

This is more of a choice and a commitment than a practical step.  But it’s the most important step.  You must choose, and you must commit.

Otherwise, when things get tough and you start sliding backward, you’ll give up.  When life tempts you with immediate gratification and you struggle with the comparison trap, you’ll give in too easily.

Fortunately, you don’t have to just rely on willpower.  There are actions you can take that will provide support and motivation when it seems life is against you and all of your efforts are futile.

First, you can start by writing down what you’re committing to.  Don’t just leave it as a thought or something you say.  Write it down.  Be specific.  Date it.  Sign it.  Then put it where you can’t ignore it.

And don’t write it on a sticky note or a napkin.  Make it big and bold and even obnoxious if you must.  It’s your declaration that today you are changing the direction of your future.

Look at it every day, and read it out loud.  In times of struggle, you may want to read it really loud.

You’re taking control, starting now.

#2  Set some financial goals

A goal gives you direction and hope.  Two very important things when you feel overwhelmed with how to move forward.

When you’re figuring out your retirement plan, it’s important to have a certain dollar amount in mind that you’re shooting for.  Some call this their “financial independence” (FI) number, and it’s the net worth you need to reach in order to live solely off your savings.

This number is unique to you and based on the vision you have for your own retirement.  All of your financial decisions from now on should align with your goal of reaching that number.

But there are lots of smaller goals on the way to financial independence that are also important, such as:

  • saving a % of your income
  • getting out of debt
  • increasing your income
  • building an emergency fund
  • paying off your mortgage

All of these will help you start saving for retirement at 50 and get closer to your biggest financial goal of reaching your FI number.  They will be the stepping stones along the journey that strengthen your hope and provide motivation to keep going.

So take the time to write down your goals.  Have a dream meeting with your spouse and talk about how you each envision retirement, and how you can work towards it together.

And be specific.  Include amounts, dates, and deadlines.  Define the who, what, when, where, and why.  All of these details will help you stay on track and moving forward.

Remember that your goals will only give you direction – you must implement a plan to actually get there.  Many of the steps on this list will help you put together a system to start saving more for your retirement.

#3  Get on a budget

If you can’t control your money on a day-to-day basis, you’ll never have control over future wealth.  You must have a spending plan that tells your money where to go and gives you the boundaries you need to start saving.  This is key to saving for retirement at 50.

A budget will build the discipline and self-control needed to live below your means.  If you’re always spending every penny that comes in, you will never have any left for savings.

The only financial advice my parents ever gave me was “pay yourself first”.  When you know what your goals are, and you’ve figured out how much you need to save every month, you can make that amount a part of your budget. 

But do it first.  Don’t wait to see what’s left over.  Instead, take your savings out first, then adjust your lifestyle to live off what’s left.

Yes, I did just say adjust your lifestyle.

Living on a budget is one of the best ways to see how overspending is giving you the false impression that you can afford more than you really can.  In other words,

No budget + Debt + Paycheck-to-paycheck = Being in Denial

Take control of your money by getting on a budget.  Track your spending, find the leaks, cut out unnecessary expenses, and learn to live off less.

You’ll be amazed at how much savings are hidden in all that spending.

#4  Reduce expenses

As you put together a budget, be relentless about reducing your expenses.  Once you decide that the sacrifice is worth the savings, you’ll be surprised at how much you can stash away!

Make a list of all of your unnecessary expenses – like cable, cell phone, entertainment, clothing, dining out, and anything else that doesn’t contribute to what you absolutely need (food, shelter, transportation).  Your budget will be your tool to track these costs so you can see what you’re actually spending.

Compare the costs of these expenses with your monthly savings goal, then decide what you’re willing to cut out.  Be realistic, so you’re not setting yourself up for failure.  Instead of throwing your cell phone out the window, maybe you could find a cheaper plan and cut your bill in half.  Know what’s going to work for you.

Then move on to the items you do need but could possibly reduce – groceries, mortgage, utility bills, car payments, etc.  Most people have a tendency to let their grocery bills get out of control, or are paying more interest than they need to on their mortgage.  Set a limit for your food budget and look into refinancing.  These are just a couple of ideas to reduce your necessary expenses.

And let me just touch on that car payment for a sec.  If you’re struggling with meeting your monthly savings goal, sell the car.  Drive a clunker for a while.  Instead of paying someone else to drive that pretty vehicle, pay yourself the money saved by selling it.

That’s what’s called a lifestyle adjustment.  And the bigger adjustment you make, the faster your savings can grow.

People who are good at saving money don’t just do all the right things.  They also have the right mindset.  If you’re resisting the idea to let go of certain possessions, you may need to rethink your thoughts around what’s necessary and what’s discretionary.

Just something to ponder as you’re driving around in that pretty vehicle.

#5  Pay off debt

This is a no-brainer, right?  I mean, can you imagine how fast your savings would grow if you were just out of debt?

For most of my life, I was a charge-it-and-deal-with-it-later kinda gal.  But I was kidding myself because the only strategy I used to deal with the mounting bills was to pay the minimum balance every month.  I get a little nauseous every time I think about how much money I’ve wasted on interest in my lifetime.

You can’t be chained to debtors and still have the freedom to build wealth.  It just doesn’t work.

You may be so deep that you can’t even see the light.  You may feel hopeless and think there’s no point.  You think you’ll be in debt until your dying day.

My friend, I’m so glad you’re here right now.  Because I want to tell you that there is hope, and there is a light.

First, you can’t do anything about your past, so let that go.
And you can’t control what happens tomorrow so stop worrying about it.
But you can control how you respond to your situation in this moment.
And that’s all you need to make a change.

Just look at the step in front of you, then take it.

Maybe it’s adding up all your debt.  Or cutting up your credit cards.  Or consolidating your student loans.

Don’t overthink it, just take a step forward.  Then another, then another.  Before you know it, you’ll see a light so bright you’ll need to wear shades.

That light is called financial freedom.

#6  Increase income

Remember that whole bit about lifestyle adjustment?  Let’s keep going with it.

If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to do is work more.  I’m already drained by the time I walk in the house, after managing dozens of high schoolers who think having a substitute means it’s social time.

So I get it.  But I don’t buy it.

There has never been an easier time to make extra money.  This is the age of the side hustle, the era of the online biz, the most opportune time to be your own boss.  If you really want to make some extra money, it’s there for the making.

Making more money is one of the best ways you can turbocharge your retirement savings in your 50s.

Of course, if your life (or your emotional health) just doesn’t allow for it right now, there are plenty of ways to build up savings besides working another job.  But, if you open yourself up to the possibility, you may just find more than extra money in a side gig.  You might also get a little fulfillment out of it, too.

If you’re a dog lover, you could be a dog walker.
If you enjoy teaching, you could tutor neighborhood kids.
If you love cooking, you could do a little catering.
If you’re good at writing, you could write for websites.
If you’re competent with a camera, you could offer photography services.

Just being good at a hobby or having a deep passion for helping others means you’re halfway there.  You just need to believe it’s possible to get paid for something you enjoy doing.  (In fact, that might be the hardest part.)

If you say I’m not good at anything (which I don’t believe for a second), you can still find ways to bring in extra cash.  One way is to look for opportunities to buy low and sell high.

Buy books at Goodwill and sell on Amazon.
Buy clothes at yard sales and sell on eBay.
Buy discounted products at Target and sell on Craigslist.

These opportunities are all around you, you just need to turn your radar on and look for them.

But fair warning:  making extra money takes some time and effort.  It would probably disrupt your normal routine to some degree, and it may even make other people living in your house (who expect you to feed them) a little annoyed.

You just need to figure out if the lifestyle adjustment is worth it to you.

#7  Contribute to retirement accounts

First things first.  If your employer offers a 401(k) and you haven’t signed up, do that as soon as you can.  Actually, right now if possible.  Like, stop reading your screen and go open up an account.  I mean it.

If you’re still sitting there, you are losing money.  Possibly thousands.  Because most employers not only offer a 401(k), they’ll also throw in their own contributions.

Seriously, are you still sitting there?

All you have to do is sign up and let them know how much you want to put in from every paycheck.  Then they do it for you!  You don’t even have to do it yourself (in fact, it’s really best that you don’t).

Then – then – your employer will (possibly) match your contributions up to a certain percent.  My husband’s company matches 3% of his contributions.  This means if we put in 3%, we’re actually saving 6%.  That’s a 100% return!  You just can’t beat it.

So find out if your employer offers something like this.  It’s free money, it reduces your tax bill, and it’s automated so you’ll never miss it.

If they don’t, you have other options.  An IRA is the most popular one, and you can open up an account through your bank or a financial broker.  (If you have a choice, read my article about comparing the 401(k) and the IRA.)

The important thing is to put your money in a tax-favored account where it can grow with compound interest over a long period of time.  This will probably be your most important tool to start saving for retirement at 50 and reach your FI number.

Don’t wait another day.  Start putting a percentage of your income in a retirement account today.

#8  Automate your savings

I mentioned above the benefit and convenience of automating your contributions.  This is such an important strategy in growing your savings, especially if you’ve struggled with saving money in the past.

You don’t want to make it a choice, and you don’t want it to be a task on your weekly to-do list.  In other words, don’t trust yourself.  It’s so much easier to never see that money to begin with.

But this doesn’t just apply to a 401(k) or IRA.  You can also automate savings into a brokerage account, your emergency fund, a Health Savings Account, a college fund, or any other account where you want to stash away some savings.

This is the best way to pay yourself first because you’re removing the option of doing it and the money never passes through your hands.  You’ll learn to live off of what’s left and never miss what went straight into savings.

#9  Save your raises

This is sooooo *not* the American way.  But, that’s probably why most of us are in so much debt with little savings.

As soon as our income increases, we want our lifestyle to follow.  Isn’t that why we’re working so hard?  To buy a bigger house, a newer car, a better vacation?  We deserve it!  (This is called lifestyle inflation, and it’s a retirement wrecker.)

Dave Ramsey always says to live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else.  In other words, you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t live your life like most people who can’t save a dime because every penny is going toward supporting their lifestyle, and then expect to have enough money to fund the retirement few people get to live.

You can either save more money and invest in your future, or you can spend all your money and steal from it.  There is no spending it all and then having it all.

Culture tempts us to raise our standard of living to the level of our income.  We get caught up in keeping up and end up trading our future needs for our present wants.

It’s time to choose a different path, one not so wide and worn.  Your income doesn’t have to define your lifestyle today – instead, let your lifestyle today support your income in the future.

#10  Stash unexpected income

How many times in my life have I squandered money that fell from the sky.  Oy-vey.

When you receive money you didn’t earn, don’t spend it.  Save it.

I know, it’s tempting to go out and treat yo’self.  But all of those birthday gifts, Christmas envelopes, work bonuses, and tax refunds have the potential to grow into something so much bigger than what they are today.  That unexpected income could actually make you more money if you would just let it.

Just for kicks, I used an online investment calculator to see how much $1000 would grow over 10 years at 8%.  Do you know what happened?

It more than doubled!!

And what happened to that new TV you bought instead?  Well, after ten years it’s out of date and a fraction of its original worth.

You tell me what the smarter choice is.

Yeah.  Do that.

#11  Save (at least) 15% of pre-tax income

This is the magic percentage many financial advisors recommend.  However, if you’re just starting to save for retirement at 50, you should aim for more.

If your employer offers a 401(k) match, that can count toward your savings rate.  So, if they’ll match up to 3%, you could save 12% and meet your goal.

You might be thinking where the heckola am I going to find 15%?  And while this is a valid question, a better one is what changes do I need to make to save 15%?  Big difference.

It’s a choice to take control.  You can get in the driver’s seat and steer your life in the direction you choose.

Automating your savings (see #8 above) will help make this step a lot easier.  The money is taken out of your paycheck before you ever see it, so what goes into your bank account is what’s left after savings.  Remember Warren’s advice?  Do that.

And as much as you struggle with living off 15% less, you might be thinking that’s not enough to get you where you want to be in time.  Just remember that as you start building your savings, you’ll be adding to it from different sides. 

As you cut expenses, increase income, adjust your lifestyle, and stash your raises, your savings will add up to more than 15%.  And once your debt is paid off you’ll really be rockin’.

If you can’t start with 15% today, save what you can and then keep increasing as your budget allows.  Sometimes you have to build up to this savings rate, but the important thing is to start with something.

#12  Play catch-up

Retirement accounts have a limit to how much money you can put in them every year (something about leveling the field between the wealthy and the rest of us).  As of 2021, the 401(k) annual contribution limit for an individual is $19.5k.  But if you’re 50 or older, that limit increases.

These are called “catch-up” contributions, and the IRS allows them to encourage those getting closer to retirement to save more.  For 2021, those 50 and older can add an additional $6.5k to your 401(k) on top of the $19.5k.  That’s alotta K’s (26 to be exact).

You might be thinking I barely have the 15%, but just keep this info tucked away for now.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll get a big bonus or win the lottery or receive a surprise inheritance.  *Or* start your own business and start really raking in the dough.

If and when you *can* play catch-up, do it.  You’ll get to your FI number that much faster.  It’s one of the best strategies to start saving for retirement at 50.

#13  Consider relocating or downsizing

Okay, now we’re really talking lifestyle adjustment.  But before you keep scrolling, stick with me for a minute.

Selling the home you raised your children in is probably not on your radar.  There are too many memories wrapped up in this house you’ve lived in for so long.  Besides, what about when you have grandkids?  You’ll need those rooms for all the toys and sleepovers.  It really is fun to think about, isn’t it?  (*Warm fuzzies*)

But – and this is a big but – consider the quality of life you may be giving up to hang onto that sentimental value.  Especially if your mortgage is keeping you from reaching your savings goals.

Do you think your kids would be disappointed or upset?  Possibly.
Do you think you’d miss this house you’ve made a home for so long?  Probably.
Do you think you’d get used to living somewhere else?  Eventually.
And do you think paying off your mortgage would skyrocket your savings?  Absolutely.

I know, I know.  This is a tough one.  Especially as we get older, change is hard.  And there may not be a right or wrong answer.  It might just depend on what you value the most, and that’s the way it should be.

But I encourage you to think about it.  Weigh the pros and cons.  Consider the impact on your future.  Even pray about it if you’re a person of faith.  Then decide.

It might just be the decision that makes all the difference.

#14  Don’t be too conservative

Investing your hard-earned money can cause a little bit of anxiety because of the uncertainty involved.  In your 20s and 30s, you had plenty of time to recover from market crashes, but your 50s start to feel closer to retirement than you’re comfortable with.

Your risk-taking can turn into risk-averting as you come face-to-face with the fact that you’re eventually going to need enough savings to support you for 25 years.  The thought of losing any amount of what you’ve worked so hard to save is a scary thought.

But that doesn’t mean stashing cash under the cushions is the best savings strategy.

Financial advisors do recommend that you dial back your exposure to risk the closer you get to retirement.  But if you still have 10-20 years before you retire, you don’t want to be too conservative.

The investment allocation you choose should depend largely on factors such as your financial objectives, the timeline you’re on, other streams of income, and your tax situation.  The level of risk that’s best for you will have a lot to do with how much progress you’ve already made to fully funding your retirement.

If you haven’t already, this is a good time to seek professional advice.  Don’t leave your future security up to what you read on the internet or in books.  Get some input from someone who has a lot of experience with investing so you are making the most educated decisions possible.

#15  Limit (or eliminate) college savings

If you’re anything like me, this one stings a little.

I grew up with a father who was very generous and paid for my 6 years of college when I decided to go at the age of 22.  He also bought me a condo to live in and had already paid for the car I was driving.  For me, he set the bar very high for how I should financially support my kids.

I’ve really struggled with this for years, but I finally feel like I’m setting myself free from this expectation.  In fact, I even wrote about 9 reasons why I’m not paying for my kids’ college education.

But I know that maybe you’re not there yet.  You might still feel a strong obligation to pay for your children’s schooling.  And I think that’s just a reflection of how much you love them and want the best for them.

It’s hard to put ourselves first before our kids.  That totally goes against our nature as parents.  But once I started being more purposeful with our finances and got up close and personal with the reality of our situation, my heart started to change.

I don’t want to ever be in a situation where my kids have to financially support me.  My dream for them is that they’ll all grow up and get married and have families of their own and pursue careers they love.  I pray that I’m there to watch them become responsible, happy adults that have a full life.  I want to go on vacations with them and give them encouragement in hard times and celebrate special moments together.

I don’t want to be the reason they have to limit their lives in any way.

I could go into a lot of shoulda-woulda-couldas, but that won’t help.  The fact is we didn’t handle our money wisely in the past, and now our present needs to adjust so we can secure our future.  This is not just for my husband and me – it’s also to protect our kids from the burden of taking care of us in our old age.

If you can relate, then consider the idea of reducing, or even eliminating, the money you’re putting into their college education.  We do put a little bit every month into a 529 account, but it’s just enough to help with books or cover a class or two.  We just don’t have the income right now to pay for everything.

And that’s okay.

Your kids are probably more resilient than you think, and they still have more to develop.  If they really want a college degree, they’ll find a way and you can support them in that.

Put the security of your future first.  Someday this will bless your family more than just paying college tuition.

#16  Open a Health Savings Account

I didn’t know what an HSA was (a Health Savings Account) until my husband’s employer added one to their benefits package.  And I can literally say it’s saved our tushes from going deeper in debt from medical bills.

An HSA is a tax-favored account that is strictly for medical expenses.  Kind of how a 401(k) works for retirement, you can contribute pretax income into an HSA now to save for medical expenses later.  But not like when you retire – you can use it tomorrow if you need to.

The cool thing is that you never lose this money – not when your insurance cycle rolls over or you change jobs or even when you die.  The money you put in will always be yours.

An HSA is similar to an FSA (Flexible Savings Account) but with better benefits.  Go with the HSA and you’ll have much more flexibility.  Here is a good article on the difference between the two.

Our HSA came along around the time our daughter needed serious medical attention.  When we started putting money into it (through payroll deduction), we had no idea what a significant resource it would be for us.  Because we have the contributions automatically taken out, we don’t miss that money.  But when those medical bills come in the mail, boy am I glad it’s there!

We don’t have to use any funds from our regular bank account to pay for medical expenses.  It all comes out of our HSA account – prescriptions, co-pays, medical bill payments, all of it (as long as it’s a qualified medical expense).  Of course, we’re limited in what we can spend to how much we put in every week.  But so far we’ve only had to dip into our savings on a rare occasion to cover something.

Hopefully, when we pass through this season, we’ll be able to keep most of our contributions in there.  We can let the account build up and then use those funds for ourselves – even into retirement.

I can’t say enough good things about the HSA.  Check with your employer and see if they offer one.  They may even throw in their own contributions like the 401(k)!

If you want to learn more about all of its wonderful benefits, read my post on the pros and cons of a Health Savings Account.

#17  Delay social security

If you’ve ever read anything on social security “strategy”, you know that the later you start receiving checks, the more you’ll get.

Most professionals recommend you wait until you’re 67, but you can actually wait until you’re 70 to get the greatest benefit.  After 70, the increases stop.

Although this doesn’t build your financial accounts today, it’s still a way to save money for your future.  As you plan for retirement, consider a timeline that prepares you for the income you’ll need so you can delay your social security.

You could extend your retirement date, or have some sort of passive income, or even have certain investments be a means to support you as you wait to start withdrawing from social security.

And keep in mind that life rarely goes as planned.  Never totally rely on those social security checks to support you.  Circumstances may force you to start withdrawing earlier than you wanted, or who knows what political decisions could change the structure of this program.

Plan for the best scenario, but be prepared for the worst.

#18  Diversify

Diversification is one of those words we hear a lot these days, but typically its use is connected to culture or race or lifestyle.  But it’s an important word when it comes to money, too.

Basically, when you diversify your money, you’re just spreading it around.  Like you’re putting it in different baskets instead of just one.  This is important because you do not want your money all in one basket.

Diversification allows your money to ride the various financial waves while also reducing risk.  For example, in your 401(k), you have a variety of investments.  All of your contributions don’t go to just one fund.  Depending on your allocations, you might have some money in mutual funds, some in stocks and bonds, and some in money market investments.  Your money is “spread around” to these different baskets – it’s diversified.

And this is a very good thing because if that mutual fund basket starts going south, your other baskets are probably still humming along nicely and adding money to your account.  Your risk of loss is reduced, and its impact is much less severe.

So, when you diversify your investments, you’re increasing the chances that your money will continue to grow despite some of the bumps along the way.  You just need to decide what you want your diversification to look like.

The closer you get to retirement, the less risk you want to take.  You’ll probably need to make some adjustments and choose different baskets – because you’re the one in control.  You can change your investment allocations at any time.  This is something you can do yourself, or with the advice of a financial advisor.

Aside from diversifying your investments, you also want to diversify your income.  Having various income streams also lowers the risk of running out of savings.

When you retire, you’ll probably be withdrawing from the 401(k) and/or the IRA basket, as well as the social security basket.  But you could also have a side business basket, and a rental property basket, and a dividend basket.  These multiple sources will ensure that you always have the income to meet your needs.  Depending on just one or two is risky – and the older you get, the less risk you want.

Start thinking of ways now to build a diversified income plan that will carry you into retirement.  It can take time to create consistent income streams, so don’t wait until you need it.  Start today!

#19  Invest in real estate

Okay, this one is a little iffy, so you’ll need to carefully assess your own situation to know if it would work for you.

First, I don’t recommend you go deeper in debt if you’re just starting to save for retirement at 50.  Saving needs to come first – priority numero uno.

However, if you’re on track and live in a hot market, this could be a potentially good income stream for you.

I have various friends that buy properties, fix them up, then rent them out.  The rent they receive covers the mortgage payment plus provides additional income to support their lifestyle.  When they no longer want the property, they can typically sell it for a profit.  So, initially, it’s a source of income but it’s also an investment.

However, there are a lot of details that go into this:

  • First, if you don’t want to be the one fixing things as they break, you’ll need to hire a property manager.  This person will take a percentage of your rental income for their services.
  • Second, you’ll need to make sure the rent you charge also covers property tax, homeowner’s insurance, and HOA fees.
  • And third, you’ll need to be able to cover the mortgage payment if your tenants move out.

There are definitely some inconveniences and risks that go along with investing in real estate.  But, if you’re considering it, talk to a realtor and financial advisor to get their input.  You don’t want to jump into this decision lightly.

#20  See if you qualify for the saver’s tax credit

If you meet certain qualifications, you could receive a tax credit if you contribute to a retirement account.  This is a little-known credit (not a deduction) that could save you up to $2,000 if you’re married filing jointly.

One restriction of this credit is that it is non-refundable – which means any credit you receive will only be applied to any tax you owe.  You won’t be refunded any balance.

The credit you would receive depends on your income level and your annual contribution amount.  But, no matter – if you qualify, it’s free money from the IRS.

When you’re saving for retirement at 50, every dollar counts!

#21  Watch your fees

Everybody wants a piece of your pie, right?  Your goal is to make those slices as small as possible.  Fortunately, that’s easier than ever these days with online management and low-fee funds.

A fee of 1% or less on your portfolio might seem insignificant.  But over the course of decades, that 1% could make or break your retirement plans.

Types of fees that could keep you from your financial goals are:

  • Management fees
  • Sales charges
  • Financial advice fees
  • Account maintenance fees

The more you have saved, the greater the impact these fees will have.  Do your research and find out what fees are being taken out of your accounts.  Switch to low-fee investments if necessary.  For more about how these fees affect your balance, here’s a good article with more details.

Take control and educate yourself on how your money is being managed and what it’s costing you.

#22  Don’t compare

As humans, most of us just want to fit in.  And the way we tend to do this is by looking around, see where everybody’s at, and do what others are doing.

We did it as children, teenagers, and young adults.  So, basically, it’s a lifelong habit that’s tough to break.

When you see a new car in your neighbor’s driveway, it’s normal to want one as well.  Same with that new pool or the European vacation.  Not only do we think it would be fun to have one for ourselves, but we also want to let everybody know that yeah, I can do that too.  I can keep up with the Joneses as much as the next neighbor.

This, my friend, can derail your whole plan.

Remember what Dave said about living like no one else?  That applies here.

You’ve got to put your blinders on.  Put your focus on your future, not your neighbor (or social media!).  Heck, they probably won’t even be living next to you in retirement.

Get total clarity about your goals, then with the intensity of a gazelle start moving towards them as if your future depends on it.

Because it does.

#23  Practice delayed gratification

Your neighbors’ choices may occasionally tempt you to go off track, but your Amazon wish list is even more dangerous.  And the Memorial Day sale at Best Buy.  And that Starbucks on every corner.  As well as countless other shiny objects that seem to promise immediate fulfillment.

Granted, the American culture is not a big help when we try to overcome these temptations.  The average person sees 3,000 marketing messages a day!  We’re led to believe that our lives will actually be better the more stuff we buy.

This, of course, is a downright lie that’s tricksy and false.

Don’t buy in to the story that your life has more meaning if you buy what’s in front of you.  The secret to having a fulfilling life is not acquiring more stuff.  It’s being content with what you have, and valuing what’s most important – your family, your health, and your independence.

Practice the discipline of delayed gratification so you don’t get caught up in the trap of consumerism and debt.  Let your values and priorities guide you.  You won’t regret it!

Don’t forget to grab your FREE Retirement Planning mini-workbook!  Make a plan to turn your dream retirement into a reality.


It’s not too late to reach your retirement goals

Does thinking of retirement make you feel more anxious than excited?  In your 50s, it’s natural to start considering what life will be like after you stop working.  But, if you know you won’t have enough saved, then it can be kind of scary.

Whether you’ve just been procrastinating with building your retirement fund, or some life challenges have knocked you down and set you back, don’t give up hope.

You can still reach your financial goals, even if you’re just starting.  Your success will depend on your level of commitment and willingness to change, so decide what your priorities are and make a plan.

It’s never too late to start, but the best time is now.  So go for it!

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