Is it ever too late to start saving?  Maybe, but probably not.  If you have one year before retirement, you’re in trouble.  If you have five years or more, you can accomplish what it will take to retire using the steps below.  

I’m a big proponent of meeting people where they are.  So, where are you?  Specifically, how old are you?  When would you like to retire/stop working?  

Before I go any further, please know that I believe everyone is capable of doing incredible things.  I believe you’re capable of doing incredible things.  I believe you can make the changes you need to get to where you want to go.  

Here’s what we’re up against.  It’s not so much how many years you have left to save before your desired retirement date.  It’s that you haven’t been saving money for your entire life.  To change, you need to address these two questions: How are you going to start saving money now?  Why are you going to change your behavior?  The answer: Because something in your mindset has changed.  The lightbulb turned on for some reason. Have you heard yourself saying, “Shoot, I’m 60 and I don’t have any money saved.” or “I’m 40 and we just had a kid.” or “I’m 50 and my uncle just had to take a job as a greeter somewhere he didn’t want to. I don’t want to end up like that.”  

Whatever turned on the lightbulb (we’ll call that your “why”), let’s get into figuring out how to help you start saving money.   

I enjoy earning, saving, and investing money.  I also enjoy spending it.  There have been times in my life where I had the balance wrong and spent way too much and stopped saving all together.  So as you work through this, know that I’ve been there and have come out on the other side. Also, I’m on your side and am committed to helping you get better so you can live how you want.  

Ask yourself these questions and be as honest as you can

  • Do I know how to save money?
    • If I don’t, where can I get the resources to learn how?
  • Am I afraid to do the things it will take to save money?
    • If yes, where can I get the support I need to move past the fear?

An honest assessment of where you currently are will help you to develop a plan for moving forward.  

The importance of wants versus needs

There is a simple but extremely important distinction between something we want versus need.  

Needs are things we cannot live without. They include:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Clothing
  • Exercise
  • Human connection
  • Time off

Wants are things which make life more enjoyable and are nice to have. They include:

  • Going out to eat
  • Sparkling water or soda
  • Big homes or apartments
  • Designer clothing
  • Expensive gym memberships and personal training
  • Popularity
  • Expensive vacations

Will Rogers said, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like.”  As you develop a plan to help you start saving, it may be necessary to keep that top of mind. 

If you’re not currently saving money, that probably means you’re spending all the money you earn.  To start saving, you’ll need to make more money, spend less, or some combination of the two.  What will you do?  

Earning more

If you have the extra time, attention, energy and ability to take on additional work to earn more money, there are lots of opportunities to do so.  SideHusl.com has a lot of great resources for doing exactly that.  

Living on less

If your income will remain the same, where can you make cuts to free up money to save?  In the context of this discussion, every little bit will help. 

Identify areas where you’re overspending on wants instead of simply paying for needs.  Are there opportunities to cut costs, downsize, ask for discounts or get rid of expenses all together?    Here are the categories to look into:

  • Mortgage/rent
  • Other property expenses (taxes, maintenance, insurance)
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Medical expenses
  • Automobile/transportation
  • Hobbies/recreation
  • Personal care
  • Vacations
  • Entertainment (Cable, Netflix)
  • Technology (Cell phone, tablets, etc)
  • Your Amazon account

Be ruthless with your cuts. I can’t promise if these cuts will be temporary or permanent.  If you make a cut, then find you can’t live without it, you can always buy it again.  Remember, you’re someone who’s worth saving money for.  

A secondary benefit of going through this exercise will be a better understanding of your cash flow.  Also, I recommend you start budgeting if you’re not currently doing so.  The best time to plant a tree was thirty years ago. The next best time is today. 

To figure out how much you need to save, you’ll need to do some simple math. In the examples below, I’ll use 8% as a rate of return, which I think is reasonable.  It’s designed to give you an idea of the role that compound interest and time can play. 

20 years to save and invest

  • Saving $10,000 per year for 20 years at 0% interest will result in $200,000.  
  • Saving $10,000 a year for 20 years at 8% interest will result in $474,550.  

10 years to save and invest

  • Saving $10,000 a year for 10 years at 0% interest will result in $100,000.
  • Saving $10,000 a year for 10 years at 8% interest will result in $150,226.

5 years to save and invest

  • Saving $10,000 a year for 5 years at 0% interest will result in $50,000.
  • Saving $10,000 a year for 5 years at 8% interest will result in $60,838.

Reach out if you need help to develop a scenario based on your personal situation.

Obviously, the longer you have, the better off you’re going to be if you start now.  If possible, increasing the amount you’re saving and investing will have a big impact which can be in your control if you take the above exercise of cutting wants seriously. Bigger interest rates can help but that part is likely out of your control or requires you to take on more risk.  

What will it take to do this?

Courage.  Doing new and uncomfortable things requires courage.  Making substantial changes requires courage.  

As you begin making the necessary changes, you will encounter resistance.  That resistance will come from internal and external forces.  

  • External: Your friends may respond negatively to the changes you’re making.  This doesn’t mean they don’t want you to succeed. It’s simply a natural human response when things are different.  They’ll get over it.  
  • Internal: “Pride is tasteless, colorless, and sizeless, but the hardest thing to swallow.”  Taking a step back in certain areas of your lifestyle won’t be easy, but this is too important not to do.  When you notice those feelings of discomfort and pride, remind yourself of your “why.”  

Choosing to make cuts to save money could be one of the most important decisions of your life.  Don’t let anything stop you from doing it.  You’re someone who can be successful and someone who is worthy.  

As always, I encourage you to talk with someone about this.  Talk to a friend, coworker, or your favorite cousin.  Don’t feel like doing that? Get info on financial coaching and hop on a call.  

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