On a tight budget? Here are 3 ways to make room for retirement savings

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401k, IRA: How to choose a retirement plan that’s best for you

There are many different retirement savings plans – traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401k. Here’s how to choose the one that will help you reach your goals.

USA TODAY

How often do you pledge to start putting more money into your IRA or 401(k), only to walk back that pledge when life’s expenses get in the way? It’s hard to prioritize retirement savings when you have other pressing bills to deal with. And to be clear, you should absolutely make a point to build a full emergency fund before putting money away for retirement, because if you encounter a near-term crisis, you’ll need that money in savings to tap.

But if you want to sneak more money into your retirement plan this year, you may need to make a few changes to your spending and income. Here are a few that could work wonders.

1. Choose a few non-essentials to cut back on

You probably spend money on non-essential items every month, like takeout meals, streaming services, and social events. This is nothing to feel bad about – we all do it. But if you want to ramp up your retirement savings rate, you may need to make a few changes to your budget.

Take a look at your non-essential spending and prioritize your monthly treats in order of importance to you. Then, pick a few areas to cut back on. It may be that you’re willing to give up takeout meals (or order takeout less frequently), but you’re not willing to give up outings with friends. Every small expense you cut back on will free up more money for your retirement plan, so don’t underestimate the importance of minor spending changes.

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2. Put money into your savings before spending it

If you have a 401(k), your savings are already on autopilot because your contributions get deducted directly from your paycheck. IRAs are a little trickier, because you generally have to send money into your retirement plan yourself.

But some IRAs offer an automatic savings feature, and it pays to take advantage of that option. If you arrange for a specific amount of money to go from your checking account to your IRA every month, you’ll have an easier time meeting your goals.

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3. Boost your income with a second job

You may only have so much wiggle room in your budget to increase your retirement savings rate. But if that’s the case, boosting your income with a side hustle should help. Since that money won’t be earmarked for existing bills, you can use your earnings to pad your IRA or make it possible to have more money from your regular paycheck taken out for your 401(k).

Best of all, many of today’s side hustles are flexible. If you’re pressed for time, find a gig that lets you set your own hours so it doesn’t interfere with your schedule as much.

Saving for retirement is important, because while Social Security will provide you with some income later in life, it probably won’t be enough to live on. If your savings rate needs a boost, use these tips to ramp up – and meet the goals you set for yourself.

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