I vividly remember when Tim and I reached the decision that our life in Memphis just wasn’t working (picture a huge house to maintain and pay for, 2 busy full-time careers, and a growing baby in a caring but not enriching daycare 40 hours/week). We made the choice to walk away from half of the money we were used to having (because I quit my job), moved across the state, and completely started over in a place that we rolled the dice on as the right choice for where to raise our children.
Our risk paid off in many ways. We adore Chattanooga and have made great strides toward putting down roots here and finding true community. We have been able to spend a lot of time with our girls and have them a home more than not, and we’ve found an excellent preschool that we believe is setting Darah up for success not just in terms of her knowledge set, but even more importantly, in terms of her character development.
Life is good, friends! We are so SO happy here and don’t regret the choices we made or what we gave up in order to live the life we are currently living.
With one exception: we have had to stop saving for retirement. And this has been a source of regret for us. I’m so thankful that we saved for retirement aggressively before we had kids, so at least we have a nest egg tucked away. But it has been so disappointing to watch it sit stagnant as we have shifted to being a one income family. We are financially savvy enough to know that RIGHT NOW is the time to be saving as much as possible for our retirement, while it still has 3 more decades to grow.
And yet, we face the same dilemma as so many families in this season of life: how do you save for retirement when you have just one income to support a growing family? It is the best time, for me personally, to be out of the work force, since my girls are little and never will be again. It is also the worst time for us to not have that extra money to sock away for later. We will only have to work harder and put even more money aside to try to play catch up for our lack of saving over the past 3 years.
I’m excited to report that thanks to my blog, I am now earning a bit of income every month, so we are ready to start contributing to our retirement again. I have two main tips I wanted to share if you are in a similar position and are struggling to figure out how to make contributions to your retirement funds.
Tips for Saving for Retirement on One Income
1. Know how to make a one time contribution. You would be shocked to hear how many times over the years we have received windfalls of money (and I use the term “windfall” VERY loosely here…maybe $100 we didn’t expect…not $10,000!). Almost every time we would say to each other, “We should put that in our retirement account!” and then we proceeded to NOT do that. Why? Because we didn’t want to take the time to figure out how to make a one time deposit. Is that ridiculously lazy? Absolutely. But also true. Now I know how to make a one time contribution and I have the step by step instructions printed out and in a safe but easy to access spot for future reference.
When you live on one income, you really may not be able to make monthly contributions (though I strongly encourage you to do so, even if it is only $20…every single dollar helps). But from time to time (birthdays, holidays, work bonus time, etc.) you find yourself with a bit of extra money on hand. Rather than let is melt away into your checking account, send it straight to retirement. Since my blogging income is very irregular, this is a great strategy for us, as there are some months when I can make pretty decent contributions, and there are other months when I’m not able to contribute anything at all.
2. Take a good hard look at your current budget. Have you ditched cable yet? Are you paying no attention to the sales flyers when you go grocery shopping? Done an insurance price comparison this year? There are several ways that you can trim your monthly living costs with not too much effort on your part. My family, for example, has been cable free since 2008. We missed it terribly for about 3 days. And then we got over it. The day we cut the cord, so to speak, we reclaimed $80/month! If we still had cable to this day, we would have handed over another $4,800 , and had nothing to show for it. And in today’s world, there are so many alternatives to cable like Hulu or Netflix. A Hulu subscription is just $8/month, 90% less than the cable bill you’ll have once any promotional rate you may have been offered is over. And for grocery savings, I’m not suggesting you learn how to extreme coupon. But use the sales flyer as your guide. My local store always has lots of stuff buy 1 get 1 free each week. I buy the majority of my groceries from that selection, instantly saving 50% on my grocery bill, no couponing required!
The reality is, when you don’t have a whole lot of money to start with, you need to stretch what you do have further. Some money saving measures take extreme amounts of time, and I judge those to not really be worth it. But some are quite simple, especially if you are willing inconvenience yourself just a tiny amount. Trade that little bit of time and effort for retirement contributions. Your 65-year-old self will thank you, I promise. And if you are lucky enough to be retiring very soon, definitely give this article on tips for 2013 retirees a read. I learned quite a few interesting tidbits, myself, and I’m nowhere close to retirement!
If you are looking for some help to get started with a retirement savings plan, or you just need some assistance managing your retirement contributions, consider Genworth. Genworth is the financial security company of choice for millions of people in all 50 states. They are a great resource to turn to whatever your age, be it 23 or 73. Speaking of 73, here’s a photo from my future 73-year-old self. It’s a great visual reminder that we’ve gotta take care of tomorrow by planning today!
This post is brought to you by our friends at Genworth and Brandfluential. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.