Future Healthy: How to shift your retirement thinking toward the future

We all know that it's a good idea to save for the future. You only need to see the rising costs of things year over year to realize that you want a decent nest egg.

But that doesn't necessarily make it easy to save for your life beyond the workforce. You know you want a comfortable retirement, but you also want to spend your hard-earned money now.

As a result, it's important to shift your thinking a bit to get a good balance between planning for the future and enjoying yourself in the present. Here are some tips.

Think about what you want for your retirement

If your retirement plans are nebulous, it can be hard to get excited about saving for them. Make things easier by writing down exactly how you want to spend your later years in life. Your ideas of a fun time may change between now and then, but the goal is to give yourself something to get excited about.

Maybe you want to travel the world, sell your house and explore the country in an RV, or just focus on enjoying your golden years. Whatever your goals, giving them some definition can help motivate you to stay on track with your retirement savings.

Decide when you want to make it happen

Once you know what you want to do in retirement, the next step is to decide when you want to quit needing to work for a living. If that time is sooner than typical, that means you'll need to be more aggressive with your retirement savings plan.

If, however, you like what you do professionally and don't feel the need to rush, you may be able to get by with saving less and focusing a little more on your current lifestyle.

Don't give up everything you love now

You may feel like you need to choose between investing in your lifestyle now and saving for the future. But unless you're experiencing financial hardship, you should be able to focus on both simultaneously.

Of course, that may mean that you may not be able to go full bore on the present or the future, but it's possible to find a balance between the two that allows you to enjoy yourself now.

You can find that balance by getting an idea of just how much you need to save to achieve your retirement goals. Then use a tax savings calculator and/or a retirement calculator to determine what you'll need to save now to get there.

Then take a look at your budget and lifestyle plans and find an allocation that works. If, for example, you can save the full amount needed for your retirement plan to work out while maintaining the life you want now, great.

If not, you may need to adjust your expectations for the future or your way of life right now. This process of trade-offs won't be easy, but it's worth the peace of mind.

Your takeaway?

Saving for retirement is important. But for some people, the obstacles are more psychological than financial. If you can afford to save for retirement, take the time to paint a picture of what you want yours to look like. Then consider how you can re-prioritize your budget to make it happen without upending your current life.

This process can require some intense introspection and planning, but your future self will thank you.


Whether it's for covering medical expenses, or planning bigger investments, our Future Healthy column will help support your path to retirement, no matter where you are on the journey. And for the latest info about your health and financial wellness, be sure to check out our HSA Learning Center, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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