Ahh, retirement. Something we look forward to our entire adult life, or at least approximately one month after starting our first real job. We make jokes about it, tell people what we plan to do when we retire, we daydream about (while working), but what can we do to actually plan for it? After all, if we don’t plan or save ahead, there may never be a retirement.

To help you start planning for your retirement, here are 6 simple tips.

  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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

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