David Bakke is an author and blogger for the personal finance resource Money Crashers, where he discusses tips for saving money for retirement and generating long-term wealth.
When it comes to saving for retirement, many Americans are woefully behind. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 56 percent of those surveyed said they had less than $25,000 in retirement savings, and 30 percent doubted they'd have enough money to retire. However, regardless of your situation, it's never too late to start making or increasing monthly contributions — and you'd be surprised at how many ways there are to free up extra money to put toward your golden years.
1. Refinance your mortgage
Mortgage refinance rates are still near historic lows. HSH.com reports that the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed is 4.01 percent, while 15-year fixed refinance rates are at 3.21 percent for the week ending May 31. Just be sure to investigate all your options, and consult multiple mortgage refinance professionals before making a final decision.
2. Trim your grocery bill
Extreme couponing can reduce your grocery bill by as much as 80 percent. And even if you take a less aggressive approach, using coupons is still a great way to save money. Pick up an extra copy or two of the Sunday paper and get out those scissors, and be sure to sign up for your preferred grocer's loyalty program to receive even more coupons in the mail. Organize them according to expiration date so you use them all in time.
3. Eliminate your landline
Eliminating a minor expense such as a home telephone can actually help you save a lot for retirement? For example, say you're paying $50 per month for a home phone. Get yourself a MagicJack Plus device (you don't even need a computer anymore to use it), and you'll pay $70 for the device and the first year of service, then about $30 a year after that. If you start using this at 40, you'll have saved more than $14,000 for retirement by the age of 65 – and that's excluding any interest you earned.
4. Review your data plan
When was the last time you reviewed your smartphone usage and compared it to your data plan? If it has been awhile, you may want to take a look at your last statement. According to BillShrink, many American households pay for as much as 8GB of data per month, yet only use a fraction of that. If you can cut this expense by approximately $30 per month, that's another $360 each year to tuck away for your future.
5. Start a side job
Need some ideas for ways to earn some cold, hard cash? Start off by cleaning out your drawers and closets, and sell your unneeded stuff online via Amazon or eBay. Or, learn to manage your personal time more effectively and start a consulting business based on an area you're well-versed in. Start by getting the word out to family and friends. Then, check out the website Meetup to see if there are other like-minded professionals in your area. Attend a gathering or two and shake some hands, and you'll find tips and advice on how to expand your side business idea. Start a Facebook or Twitter account to advertise your services through social media.
Once you start to see a little extra at the end of each month, make sure you invest your savings effectively. If you participate in your employer's 401(k) program and they have a company match option, make sure you're contributing at least up to that limit. Next, look into a Roth IRA. You can contribute up to $5,500 ($6,500 if you're 50 or older) for this year and your qualified withdrawals are tax-free. The concept of saving more for retirement is great — just make sure those funds make it to their intended and most advantageous destination.
How much do you currently have saved for retirement?