Manage Finances Now, and Enjoy a More Comfortable Life Later



When is the best time to start saving for retirement? As soon as you can.

It's obvious that the sooner you start saving, the more money you'll have when retirement finally comes around. The problem is the younger you are, the easier it is to put it off. Retirement isn't tomorrow, next week, or even next year, so there always seems to be another day to start.

Stories from both ends of the savings spectrum can show how good, and how bad, retirement can really be. If you start saving now, you're more likely to be in the good zone when you reach your golden years. If not, you might find yourself working well past the age when you had planned to travel and enjoy your life.

You don't need an abundant salary to have a comfortable retirement. What you need is discipline, and the resolve to start early and stick to it for the long haul.

High Earnings are Great, but You Have to Save Generously

You might be surprised by the number of people over the age of 65 who are still in the workforce, and not by choice. In 2012, over 7 million retirement-age people were still on a job. Over half had no retirement savings to speak of.

Bloomberg Personal Finance says Tom Palone, who was once the Oral-B president of marketing, works two part-time jobs to make ends meet. At 77, he's well into retirement age, but didn't manage to save enough on his former 6-figure salary.

Palone isn't on the verge of going hungry, he tells Bloomberg. His $1,200 Social Security income and $600 monthly pension could keep him afloat. It's just not enough, and so he has chosen to work.

Moderate Earnings Don't Mean You Can't Save Well

It's amazing what a consistent pattern of basic saving can do for your retirement without causing any pinch at all. Forbes gives an example of a woman they call "Chris," who is 54 and has just shy of $200,000 in her 401k. Her earnings have always been moderate, and she didn't do anything complicated to save what she's got.

Chris started contributing to the 401k plan at her job in her 20s. She saved 6%, and her company matched it, making the equivalent of a 12% contribution. She estimates that by the time she retires, her 401k alone will generate approximately $2,000 worth of monthly income.

In a situation like Chris has, imagine if there were also investments. $2,000 a month isn't an extravagant income, but it's more than the average Social Security payout. With the right investments, her monthly income could be much more.

Savings is nothing but a good idea unless you start and never give up. In your 20s or even your 30s, retirement might seem so far away that you barely think about it at all. But you will. Once your 40s arrive and you realize that you're running out of time to save, that's when things can become scary.

The time to start is now. Pay off your debt, or don't let any debt creep up to begin with, and start your saving and investing plan as soon as possible.

If you wait until you think you can manage it, you might never get there. Plan like you can't afford not to save. Because one day, that will be a fact.

Mint.com can help you find your way on the road to retirement planning. With budgeting features that help you save money and categories to watch your savings grow, all you need is to make the choice and take the first step. Sign up for your free account today, and start saving for a comfortable retirement.