Set Your Retirement on the Right Path


Saving for retirement can feel overwhelming and daunting not to mention that it’s hard to stay focused on such a far-away goal.  I’ve found that my clients are able to approach proactively when it is broken down into step-by-step actions.  In case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed about saving for retirement, here are a few steps to consider.

The Earlier you Start Saving for Retirement, the Better

This is why.  Due to the power of compound interest, the longer you wait to save for retirement, the more money you’ll ultimately have to contribute overall to achieve the same level of savings.  If you’re just starting to save or trying to save more for retirement try this sweet little habit.

Become aware of your spending habits and your lifestyle by tracking your spending and expenses as well as income too.  By tracking your money (spending, expenses, income, savings) you’ll understand how and why you spend so that you can incorporate retirement savings into your overall financial picture.


Know What Type of Retirement Plan you Have

Do you know what type of retirement plan you already have? For example does your employer offer a 401(k), a 403(b) or another type of retirement option?  You will want to know the details of the plan, if your employer offers matching contributions, how your contributions will grow over time and if you can or need to make changes to your plan as you move along in your career.  And yes, if your employer offers matching contributions, take it- it’s free money and this is a good place to start.  In other words, begin by contributing the percentage necessary to get the employer match.  Be sure to speak with your employer’s human resource team to understand how your 401(k) is invested and make adjustments as necessary if funds are not performing well.

If your employer doesn’t offer a retirement plan, and this is a reality that will shift more and more responsibility on the employee to save for retirement, you’ll want to research your options for retirement investing such as an IRA or a Roth IRA and figure out which providers have the lowest fees to make changes.  Providers like T. Rowe Price have low fees and at this point Vanguard and Fidelity don’t charge fees to make changes.

If your self-employed or a small business owner, you’ll want to investigate a SEP IRA.  Additionally, if you’re a non-employed spouse, you might consider a Spousal IRA as a way to save for retirement.  Whatever retirement account you’re considering be sure to investigate it thoroughly as there are rules and limitations that will help inform you of your best option.


Increase Your Retirement Account Contributions

I think it’s easier to break down how you will increase your contributions in small steps as you’ll more likely achieve your goals over time.  Here’s an example:

If you have a 401(k), contribute the minimum to meet your employer’s matching funds, commonly 3%.  What this means is that once you contribute the minimum your employer will contribute a portion.   This is like free money and a bonus you’ll definitely want!

Once you’ve met this minimum, continue increasing by 1% every year, or more if you can until you’re saving the ideal percentage (i.e., 10%, 15%, etc.), or maxing out your retirement account.

If you have a IRA, Roth IRA, Spousal IRA or SEP IRA consider similar increases of 1% or more or even a certain dollar amount until you’ve reached the maximum depending of course on your goals and needs for retirement.

My clients have found it helpful to track their spending as a way to set up the framework for meeting their retirement savings’ goals.  In addition to tracking spending, I recommend review your overall financial plan and retirement accounts at least once a year or even quarterly so you can make adjustments and changes as necessary to meet your goals.

Hopefully, these steps will help you to set up your own retirement savings system and achieve your goals over a long period of time.  After all, saving for retirement is like a marathon that takes time, effort and consistency.  I also believe that this approach helps  to achieve other financial goals and to enjoy life along the way.



Mary Billerbeck is Founder and President of Mary Billerbeck, Int’l. and Financially Fit Living.   Mary is a Financial Wellness and Wealth Coach, a Personal Finance Specialist, a Financial Recovery Expert, and a Personal Development Educator.  Mary has a BA in Psychology and a MA in Public Administration as certications as a Money and Life Coach.

Mary empowers people to create positive change in their lives and is on a mission to bring awareness, healing and empowerment to our relationship with money. She believes that when you transform your relationship with money you gain massive clarity and confidence that flows into other areas of your life: from love and relationships, to life purpose and career, to health and wellness, and everything in between.

Mary can be reached at via her website