By Connie Schlosberg
With only a few weeks left until the end of the year, I’m sure you are like me and want to start the new year in the green. Every December, I find myself reflecting on what I can change once January rolls around that will help with personal finance. One thing I’ve been thinking about recently is the number of paychecks we’ll receive before retirement.
It may sound deep to you but here’s a somber thought: a 25-year old who plans to retire at age 65 has 960 paydays left. A 45-year-old has only 480. If you receive 24 paychecks per year for the rest of your working life, how many do you have left?
Think about how much you save from each paycheck towards your retirement. How about to pay down debt? For many of us, a paycheck hardly extends over a two-week pay period for just living expenses. Even if you are lucky to retire at 65, you may live another 40 years. I certainly hope to live an enjoyable and long retirement. I’m sure you do too. The challenge is to link the difference between how much we save for retirement and how much we’ll need. And be debt free long before we hit retirement age
Increase Your Income
There are few ways you can increase your income: by saving more, by working longer, and/or increasing your salary. Saving more is always sound advice, but it’s not always possible. Why? Life happens. The same goes for earning more in your paycheck. Depending on your job and health, working after age 65 may not be an option. Honestly, it’s hard to tell now how you will feel about working when you reach your sixties.
What else can you do? Put a percentage of your money into the stock market, if you can. The stock market has the potential for greater returns that may outpace inflation. If you are overwhelmed by the intricacies of the stock market, try equity mutual funds that offer professional money management and diversification.
Frankly, if saving more, working longer, and earning extra income are not possibilities for you, you’ll need to make your savings work harder. Start now with an investment program – don’t forget about your employer’s 401K benefit - so your money has a longer time to grow.
Get a Handle on Your Debt
If you are in over your head with credit card and student loan debt, you need to pay it down or all the efforts you put into increasing your income will be for nothing. More income should not be an excuse to add more debt even though this is the mindset many of us use to justify spending more.
According to recent The Motley Fool research, credit card debt in the United States was $868 billion in Quarter 2 2019. This is a 4.7% increase from 2018. Gen Z and Millennials account for $198 billion of that debt. Add in another $840 billion in student loan debt for those generations, you can understand why there is a huge issue with debt in the United States.
*Try DebtMD’s free Smart-Debt Analyzer™ tool to find out how much debt you have.
Moving Forward in 2020
You need to ask yourself how you got in debt and what’s your plan to get out of it. Take a hard look this month and reflect on what you did to get in this situation. What do you need to change? Increase your income? Invest more in stocks? Get a consolidation loan or refinance your existing student loans? Don’t just rely on one method. I recommend trying a few ways to get out of debt and save money.
There’s more to life than just working to exist. Put a timer on your work life and resolve to start the road to debt-free living in the new year.
DebtMD is committed to helping you reach your debt-free living goals. When you are ready, head over here and start the new year on the right foot.
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