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Maryniw and Maryniw: Stay motivated to save for retirement

No matter your age, focusing on future needs can help you save for retirement.

For most of us still working, the topic of retirement triggers mixed emotions. While the dream of retiring is appealing, the reality of entering our “golden years” often is marked by uncertainty. It’s not surprising that the Employee Benefit Research Institute reports that only 13 percent of Americans workers are very confident about having enough money to retire comfortably.

Whether your retirement is decades away or at hand, it’s never too late to plan and save for retirement. Here are some easy ways to get and stay motivated:

Picture the positive: Imagine your life in retirement. Does it start when you’re 45 or 75? Do you travel to exotic destinations or spend winters at your vacation home? Perhaps you’d like to help your grandchildren with their college tuition.

When money isn’t an issue, your retirement dreams can be unlimited. Thinking of saving for retirement as a way of achieving specific dreams puts a positive spin on the activity.

Picture the opposite: Now think of your life as a retiree in a different way. We’ve seen reports that the Social Security trust fund could experience a 25 percent shortfall in about 20 years. What if  you can’t count on that income to supplement what you’ve saved for retirement? What if health problems erode your disposable income? What is retirement like if you have to take low-paying part-time jobs to subsist?

Staying realistic about the possibilities – positive and negative – may provide the discipline you need to keep saving.

Set milestone goals: It may be easier to save for retirement if you break it down into smaller steps. Set short-term goals, such as “in one year I’ll pay off a credit card and divert that money to retirement savings” or “I want to double my savings in the next five years.” When you achieve a milestone, celebrate your accomplishment and then set a new goal.

Keep things simple: If possible, automate your retirement savings. Arrange to have a portion of your pay contributed directly into a retirement account. And consider signing up for automatic increases to keep pace with your plans for retirement.

Make small changes: Boosting your retirement savings doesn’t mean you have to make significant changes. Look for opportunities in everyday activities – such as skipping the daily gourmet coffee to save around $100 each month – and invest that money for your future. Small amounts contributed today have the potential to grow into much larger savings by retirement.

Talk to a financial professional: Carefully examine where you stand financially, then devise a  plan to help achieve or maintain that plan in retirement. Work to periodically recharge your retirement dreams. Track your spending and beware of added fees and charges. Using a credit card can rack up expenses quickly, especially when you factor in interest.

Try using cash instead. A lot of times people’s spending habits change when they start using cash because they realize what’s going out and how hard they had to work for the money.

• Terry Maryniw and Aaron Maryniw are investment advisers with Maryniw Financial, 910 E. Oak St., Lake in the Hills. Contact them at maryniw@maryniw.com, 847-658-9251 or visit www.maryniwfinancial.com. 

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