Aug 292018
 

According to a recent Northwestern Mutual study, nearly 1 out of 3 Americans have less than $5,000 saved for retirement. The average retirement savings for all Americans is $84,821. That’s a far cry from enough. Experts typically recommend building at least $1 million in savings by retirement. So it doesn’t look good for the average American. And we aren’t doing much better up here. A CIBC poll shows that 32% of Canadians between 45 and 64 have nothing saved for retirement. 😮

The 3 pillars of retirement savings

I recently finished reading a book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, which explains that we can’t possibly care about everything in our lives because that would be too exhausting. So we have to choose what’s actually worth giving a hoot about. For those who are having trouble saving for retirement the best way to get ahead is to focus on a few things that will make a substantial difference. 😀

Below are 3 important factors that are absolutely the mutt’s nuts to building up a retirement nest egg.

Income

This is the number one tool to accumulating wealth. You can’t have savings if you never have income. Prioritize finding new ways to make additional income. This could be through a side job. Investment income is another method that requires patiences but ultimately has extremely lucrative results. For example this is what consistently investing in dividend growth stocks for 10 years can do in a bull market. 🙂

Another strategy that usually gives a lot of mileage is to constantly apply for new jobs. Every month make it a goal to send your resume to a few different companies, and follow up with any interviews or feedback you get. The worst case is you decline a job offer with a lower salary than what you’re currently earning. But if you are offered a better compensation package then you’ll receive an immediate raise in your career, either by joining the new company, or negotiating a higher salary with your current employer. 😉

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Jun 152018
 

Lifestyle inflation is when we spend more money when our income increases. This can feel natural because the more we earn the more we can afford to spend. But this can make it very difficult to save for retirement or meet other financial goals. Lifestyle inflation is what causes many folks to get stuck in the rat race instead of being able to retire sooner. Here are some ideas to help curb lifestyle inflation when we get that big raise next time. 🙂

  1. Visualize the net amount of a raise after paying payroll and income tax.
  2. We don’t necessarily deserve nice things. But we deserve to be happy – which can be jeopardized if we overspend on nice things by sacrificing financial security.
  3. Hang out with friends who have similar spending habits to ourselves.
  4. Pay ourselves first. Set up an automatic transfer for a fixed amount of money from our bank account to an investment account every month.
  5. Define our goals and only spend new money if it will get us closer to those goals.
  6. Have inexpensive hobbies such as reading, blogging, hiking, playing music, and cooking.
  7. Realize that success doesn’t equate to material possessions. Better indicators of success are health, love, friends, family, and experiences. We should be happy with our quality of life without feeling the need to prove it to others.

Reaching a good balance of spending and saving is a personal journey for everyone. There are some people who save too much without enjoying life as it comes. There are others who impetuously spend too much without thinking of their future. Finding the sweet spot between the two extremes will bring us financial happiness. 🙂 Happiness is like peeing our pants. People around us can see it, but only we can truly feel the warmth of it. 😀 Live for today but don’t forget to plan for tomorrow.

 

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Random Useless Fact:

QiZai is the only giant brown panda in the world left. He is literally one of a kind.

Mar 102012
 

There are lots of great suggestions out there for saving money. One I’ve found particularly useful is making a budget. This post is to help personal finance beginners to think about money, and take control of their own financial situations. A budget is a detailed plan for the formula below.

Income – Spending = Savings

For more savings we just need to increase income and decrease spending. In my experience it’s usually easier to spend less than to make more because (A) it’s physically easier to not buy something than to work for extra money, and (B) savings aren’t taxed. A $100 salary raise means I only get to see $60 of it after paying income tax and CPP/EI/DCPP. My marginal tax rate (30%) isn’t even that high. People who make more than me, and work in a higher taxed province like SK, MB, or ON, probably only get to keep half of their raise, especially if they also have union dues, taxable benefits, and other deductions (ಠ-ಠ). In the US, just replace the Canadian payroll taxes with Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Tax. Of course making more money is always a good thing (^o^)丿but there’s an old saying that goes “A penny saved is worth two pennies earned.”  To the right is a simple example of how a budget works.

To implement a budget, spend one month first tracking all income and expenses. Then study the results and find ways to decrease spending, and if possible, increase the income. Finally set reasonable goals and limitations for future months, and stick to the budget and don’t overspend. If I pay Telus for my phone, and Bell for my internet, then by looking at both of these expenses together on a budget it’s easy to see that I can simply consolidate these services with just one company, and get a bundled discount.  Besides tracking just our financial progress though, budgets also teach us to be mindful of our habits so we can make better lifestyle choices (^_^) If I unknowingly ate too much food last month, I can easily spot the inflated food spending in my budget, which would help to explain the extra pounds I’ve put on lately. This is only an example of course.

I have a fixed amount in my head of how much in total I should spend each month. Here’s a look at my spending categories.

I changed the name of my employers to Job 1 and 2, and blurred my numbers so my friends in real life who know how much I pay for strata fees, for example, won’t know this is me. But for curious readers I’ve left some numbers (which shouldn’t jeopardize my anonymity) visible from January, which was a typical month of spending for me.  Budgets are quite fun actually. This is my 3rd year doing them. It’s really interesting when I compare my numbers today with the past. Budgets can be as simple or detailed as you want to make them. But as life gets more complicated, so will the budget. I have roughly 30 categories for my expenses. About half are fixed and the other half are optional. Every budget is personal and unique depending on each person or household.

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Random Useless Fact: There are over 180 official currencies worldwide ( ゚д゚)