After the year we had, filled with anxiety and stress, we are all dreaming about retirement. The days when we don’t have to worry about deadlines, last-minute projects, or being called into our boss’s office unexpectedly.

As much as we all dream about retirement, it takes a lot of planning and saving to be able to truly enjoy it. Have you started saving? What can you do to help get you there?

Here are 8 simple tips to get yourself one step closer.

  1. Start saving now. Yes, we literally mean RIGHT NOW. By setting aside money reserved strictly for your retirement, you are allowing your savings to gain interest giving you more bang for your buck. The longer it sits, the more interest it can accrue.
  2. Don’t pass up company 401k matches. At the bare minimum, as much your company matches for, do that. So, if they match up to 6%, make sure you do 6%. If you don’t, you are literally leavings hundreds to thousands of dollars behind.
  3. Take advantage of catch-up contributions. While it’s strongly encouraged you start saving as early as possible, there are situations where this isn’t feasible. Luckily, there is still an option to save as we age. Specifically, when you reach age 50, you’re eligible to go beyond the normal savings limits of IRAs and 401k’s. This is thanks to catch-up contributions which can help boost your retirement savings.
  4. Pay off your mortgage. This is an essential bill, and also likely your largest. Paying off your mortgage before retirement can free up significant funds each month. To do so, consider refinancing which can lower your interest rate and cut off years of payments. Another idea, try paying a little extra each month. Even a small amount can end up cutting off significant funds.
  5. Create a budget. Having a pre-established retirement budget will allow you to know where you can splurge and where you can save. In addition to your typical expenses, consider what your retirement plans are. Many folks travel more, some purchase winter homes in a warmer location, others dine out more frequently, or hire companies to do work they once did such as yard and housework. Be sure to budget for those expenses as well.
  6. Consider delaying your Social Security benefits. For every year you decide to delay receiving a Social Security payment before the age of 70, you have the chance to increase the amount you will receive in the future. 62 is the earliest age you can start receiving Social Security retirement benefits. However, each year you wait until you reach 70, your monthly benefit will increase. This additional income adds up quickly and even delaying by one year can make a huge difference.
  7. Sign up for Medicare on time. Medicare is available to individuals who are ages 65 and older. There are exceptions for individuals with certain disabilities. Medicare will cover certain medical-related expenses instead of using your savings to cover those amounts. Enrolling late can result in increased costs and fees.
  8. Select a better insurance plan. From health insurance to home insurance, if you pick a plan, make sure it covers you for expenses you will need. Some plans require you to pay HUGE out-of-pocket costs for certain expenses, which could leave you in a pickle, to say the very least. Make sure you research and select a plan that will make sense for you and your pocketbook.

Looking ahead to retirement should be fun, not stressful. Start planning for your golden years with these tips.