Stop being stuck in a financial rut.
About half (49 percent) of those who have saved too little or who owe too much aren’t doing anything to solve their money problems, according to a Bankrate.com report released Wednesday. A quarter said they have “no plans” to address the issue and just under 1 in 5 (19 percent) said they’ll “get around to it” in the next year, according to the survey of just over 1,000 people.
The problem is, the most common financial regrets that are taxing so many of us are too serious to ignore: Nearly 2 in 5 survey respondents said they are not saving enough for either retirement or an emergency and and 1 in 5 are most concerned about being in debt. But both issues are so daunting that many people probably feel frozen in place: National credit card debt and student loan debt recently passed $1 trillion; 6 in 10 Americans (61 percent) don’t have enough cash saved to cover a $1,000 emergency; and while the typical retirement costs $738,000, only 9 percent of American women have $300,000 or more saved.
“In a word, it’s ‘inertia,’ which is working against you because you just can’t get started,” Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst, told Moneyish. But you can make inertia work for you by automating deposits into your retirement and savings accounts, as well as setting up automatic payments for your credit cards and student loans; all the work is done for you.
Here are the five biggest financial regrets from Bankrate’s report and the baby steps to start facing them today.
You haven’t saved enough for retirement
Most respondents wished they had started saving for retirement earlier and McBride noticed that these nest egg regrets increased with age, peaking in the 70s. (Census Bureau data shows that the average retirement age is about 63, although a recent Gallup poll finds working Americans expect to retire at 66.) “As you get closer to retirement, you realize that you’re behind,” he said. “But it’s never too late to start saving and there’s no better time than the present.”
Automating your deposits is the best way to begin a regular practice of contributing to your retirement account. “Have payroll set up automatic deductions into your workplace 401K or other retirement plan, or if that’s not available, open up a Roth IRA and transfer over monthly deductions from your checking account,” he said. Or take a look at your monthly budget and see if you can bump up what you are contributing now, especially if your employer matches it.
So how much do you need? This depends on how much you want to spend and how comfortably you want to live once you retire, but the conventional rule of thumb suggests a nest egg of $1 million to $1.5 million, or 10 to 12 times your current income,according to the AARP.