Every January, a flood of people resolve to lose weight. Then they show up at a nearby gym for the first time ever.
By February, everything settles down and the true gym rats are left to grunt in peace. That’s how it goes with resolutions. We break them at the slightest test of will.
What if your resolution is not to trim some holiday excesses from your waistline but instead finally to seriously save for your retirement?
If so, I have great news: While going to the gym is a repeated effort to overcome personal inertia (and the overwhelming draw of your couch), saving for retirement can be pretty close to a one-time decision. And January is a great time to start.
It’s simply more of an attitude than anything else. “Just do it,” as the Nike ads famously say. The trick is to find a way to not even think about it.
The real hurdle is getting started. For most people, the best way is a tax-advantaged 401(k) plan at work or a personal IRA.
If you work and get a paycheck you can automatically deduct contributions to your plan. Simply walk over to the human resources department for this. Automatic contributions allow you to forget about it. Now you’re consistently saving with every paycheck.
Next is to understand how to invest. Figuring out how to allocate your savings into investments can be intimidating.
So, what do you do to overcome that? Hiring an advisor in one possibility. Or, you can do some reading.
You’re going to feel better just by moving in the right direction. Even if you’re 50, that’s 20 years away from retirement. You can still make a big difference.
Some people see immediate results at the gym. Similarly, if you start investing the impact is immediate. You will have a retirement plan, whereas before you didn’t have one at all.
Just like it’s never too late to start working out, it’s never too late to start saving. You can have a positive impact and you’re going to feel better because you’re saving and moving toward your goals.
Commit for real results
Finally, stick to your plan. If you stay with a work-out plan for five years you’re going to see results. It’s the same with investing — you have to stick with it.
A trainer at the gym is going to come up with a plan to help you get into shape within 12 months. Likewise, if you go to see a financial advisor, she can help you develop a sustainable financial plan that’s right for you.
I promise you, at the end of a year you’re going to feel great about it.