Save More for Retirement: 5 Easy Steps to Greater Financial Security

Few people enjoy penny-pinching, but it’s easy to cut back on wasteful spending that costs most us hundreds, if not thousands, a year. And it’s unlikely to negatively impact your happiness, or your quality of life. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: with more money stashed away in a retirement account, you’ll get the peace of mind that comes with financial security.

Here are five low-hassle ways to do it:

Use an online savings account for infrequent expenses

It’s easy enough to account for monthly expenses like groceries, cable bills and student loans. But we often forget to take into account annual expenses — car repairs, home maintenance, property taxes, magazine subscription — that come infrequently or once or twice a year. The best way to handle this is to estimate the annual expense and, every week or month, automatically put money into an online savings account earmarked for that purpose. INGDirect, for instance, allows you to create up to 20 individual savings accounts. Best of all, you can always move money between accounts if, for instance, a big car repair hits and you haven’t yet saved the money. At the end of the year, sweep any left over money into your IRA or “rainy” day savings accounts.

Be ready, and willing, to switch cell phone and cable carriers

Nobody likes to lose a customer, particularly big companies with the financial wherewithal to take a hit on discounts for a few educated–and mildly patient — consumers. When it comes time to renew your cell phone bill, explore your options and, if you like your current carrier, call them to negotiate if you find a competitor with lower rates or better features. Do the same with cable every 6 to 12 months. If the company won’t budge, try the nuclear option — threaten to leave. They’ll often come around, and if they don’t, you’ll at least know you’ll be saving money by switching. One note of caution: the process of canceling and opening a new account can take some time on the phone or in the showroom. If you don’t have the time, the savings may not be worth it.

Get deals on gas

Saving a few dollars on a tank of gas may not seem like the most effective way to boost retirement savings, but stretch those savings out over a year and it starts to add up. Saving even $2 a tank, per week, add ups to $104 a year. And Internet sites and smartphone apps like Gasbuddy make it easy to search for the lowest prices in your area. That extra mile is often worth the extra savings.

Do it yourself

Laziness (and in some cases, a lack of self-confidence) can cost you big. Over the course of a year, paying for someone to complete simple maintenance tasks like installing windshield wipers, unclogging a drain, and washing a car can really add up. Sometimes it’s a matter of convenience or necessity, but typically it’s either because we don’t feel like doing it, or don’t feel like we can do it. But the Do-it-Yourself (DIY) community is alive and well online, and you can find written and video instructions on everything from painting a room to building a kitchen table. Give it a shot, save some money, and give your retirement savings a boost.

Don’t pay for storage

Backing up files like photographs, documents and music is essential in today’s digitally centered world. But it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg to do so. In fact, unless you have particularly huge storage needs, it shouldn’t cost anything. Services like Amazon Cloud storage gives users 5 GB of storage for free. If you own an Apple device like an iPad, iPhone or desktop computer, its iCloud offering backups an unlimited number of files created or stored in its native applications (iPhoto, Pages word processor, Numbers spreadsheets, etc.). Music purchased via iTunes is automatically available for re-download if your hard drive crashes and, for $25 a year, its iTunes Match service will even store music purchased outside the Apple universe. Google Music and others offer similar services for free.

Matthew Malone writes for the leading Roth IRA and online retirement planning resource, RothIRA.com. He is a CBS SmartPlanet contributing writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Smartmoney.com, Fortune.com, Forbes.com, and other publications.

Photo Credit: Ashleigh290

7 comments to Save More for Retirement: 5 Easy Steps to Greater Financial Security

  • You know, the ‘storage’ tip can apply to physical storage as well. Don’t pay for physical storage to store items you can’t fit in your house. If you need that kind of storage, chances are you have too much stuff, and paring down will not only reduce the storage fees, but also potentially raise money AND stop you from buying more stuff, all leading to positive savings that can help your goal of a good retirement. Not exactly what you had in mind there but hopefully you like the leap I took there :)

  • As far as gas goes just make sure you aren’t driving too far out of the way and let it eat up your savings. If you have a 20 gallon tank each penny in price difference is only 20 cents off your bill. If you get 20 MPG each 1 mile you go out of your way costs you 2 miles round trip or 10% of a gallon of gas… not to mention the time and maintenance costs!

  • I love the Cloud storage idea. I actually hadn’t really considered it before. I like it because you have access from any digital device anywhere in the world. I currently back up to a storage device and put it in a fireproof safe. I always wondered if the heat from a fire would wipe it out anyways. That sounds like something I need to learn more about. Thanks for the tip Len!

  • Great list. Doing a bit of research on the lowest prices of gas in your area will surely save you lots of money. For my DIY at home, I find watching tutorial videos online to be very helpful. You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save when you do some of these tasks by yourself.

  • [...] Save More for Retirement: 5 Easy Steps to Greater Financial Security (Len Penzo dot Com) Maybe you are convinced that you need to start saving for retirement now, but you aren’t sure how to free up extra room in your budget. Here are some small changes you can make to do just that. [...]

  • [...] By Guest Blogger | Sep 27, 2012 The following post comes from Len Penzo at partner site LenPenzo.com.Few people enjoy penny-pinching, but it’s easy to cut back on wasteful spending that costs most [...]

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